Reuters

In its final weekend, ridership was up more than 200 percent. 

Sydney's deeply unpopular monorail made its final trip on June 30. And in a classic twist, its last weekend turned out to be unexpectedly profitable.

The 25-year-old monorail system has long been known for having low ridership and offering little convenience in its path through the city center. But nearly 16,000 people lined up to ride in its final weekend, according to The Daily Telegraph. Another 1,500 entered a contest to be one of 48 riders on the train's last ride. All told, that constitutes a 210 percent increase in ridership over the same period last year. The government of New South Wales plans to donate the final weekend's proceeds, about $70,000, to five children’s charities, including Make-A-Wish Australia and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. 

The Sydney monorail, which opened in 1988, crossed Darling Harbour and connected several tourist sites as it looped through the city’s central business district. But with a small circular route and a hefty $5 fare, even tourists, who made up 54 percent of the system’s users, generally preferred to walk. At its most extreme, riders could indulge in a less-than-a-block trip along Pitt Street between Galleries Victoria and City Centre—about 3 cents per meter.

The dismantling of the monorail will make way for a new convention center and entertainment district in Darling Harbour, an area in which planners had hoped to spur development with the monorail's original construction three decades ago. The removal of the monorail will also allow an expansion of the city's light rail network.

Decommissioning the system began Monday, and deconstruction will continue through March 2014. Planners intend to recycle more than 90 percent of the materials, including a total of 14,000 cubic feet of concrete and 1,600 tons of steel.

Top image: The Sydney monorail, shown above during the 2000 Olympics, closed forever in June (Will Burgess/Reuters).

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Coronavirus

    The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here

    The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.

  2. Perspective

    In a Pandemic, We're All 'Transit Dependent'

    Now more than ever, public transportation is not just about ridership. Buses, trains, and subways make urban civilization possible.

  3. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  4. Illustration: two roommates share a couch with a Covid-19 virus.
    Coronavirus

    For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

    Renters in apartments and houses share more than just germs with their roommates: Life under coronavirus lockdown means negotiating new social rules.

  5. An African healthcare worker takes her time washing her hands due to a virus outbreak/.
    Coronavirus

    Why You Should Stop Joking That Black People Are Immune to Coronavirus

    There’s a fatal history behind the claim that African Americans are more resistant to diseases like Covid-19 or yellow fever.

×