The Seattle Monorail has been a Seattle icon since the 1962 World's Fair. Many people believe that the monorail is owned, managed and operated by the City of Seattle. However, unlike Metro, Sound Transit and the trolley, the monorail is a privately run business with independent leadership and staff. Not only is the monorail not government subsidized, but in fact, it brings in money for the city.
Area businessman, Tom Albro, holds the concession with the City of Seattle to manage and operate the monorail. The Monorail provides area convenience and efficient travel throughout the region.
Today, the trains carry approximately 1.5 million riders every year. The monorail has become an important fixture in Seattle for locals, who use the trains during major festivals and sporting events. Seattle Center Monorail is the nation's only fully self-sufficient public transit system.
Travelers can park downtown and take the Monorail to Seattle Center during festivals and events throughout the year. Trains typically depart every ten minutes or less. The Macy's garage (3rd and Stewart) frequently offers reduced parking rates for monorail patrons during the summer's three major festivals:Folk life,Bite of Seattle, andBumbershoot, in addition to Sonics' home games.
The Seattle Center Monorail system uses 62 pre-stressed concrete piers to support the two beams which the monorails ride upon. The trains can cover the 1 mile distance at a top speed of 50 miles per hour, making it the fastest full-sized monorail system in the country, even today.
Riding on 64 rubber pneumatic tires, the monorail runs on 700 volts D.C. power obtained through contact rails on the inside of the beam. 16 load-carrying tires ride on top of the beam, and 48 guide tires grip the sides of the beam.
The Seattle Center Monorail trains operate from 9am to 11pm seven days a week. The Monorail departs every 10 minutes from the station at Seattle Center, (across from the Space Needle) and from Westlake Center Mall, at Fifth and Pine Street. Each trip takes two minutes to cover the 1 mile route. Each train can carry up to 200 passengers per trip. The Monorail provides two-train service during special events and activities, with departures every five minutes or less. The Monorail is in operation every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Round-trip fares are $4.00 for adults; $1.50 for youth ages 5-12, $2.00 for senior 65+, disabled, and persons with Medicare cards. One-way rates are 1/2 of the round-trip price. Children age 4 and under ride free. The Monorail offers unlimited use monthly passes at $40 per month, or $10 per month for seniors, reduced fare permit holders, and youth.
On June 3rd, 2008 at 9:37 a.m., the odometer on the Seattle Center Monorail Red Train passed through the million-mile mark as the train pulled away from the Westlake Center platform on its one-mile route along 5th Avenue to Seattle Center.