British Columbia

Mini-monorail line pitched for Kelowna

A Kelowna, B.C., resident wants the city to consider installing a magnetized monorail to ease commuter congestion.
A Kelowna resident says the city should consider installing a new monorail system under development by SkyTran that uses magnetic levitation to move two-person pods. (Skytran)

A Kelowna, B.C., resident wants the city to consider installing a magnetized monorail to ease commuter congestion, but city officials say they want to see the technology in action first.

Resident Dave Straley wrote a letter asking council to start talking about technology being developed in part by SkyTran and NASA. According to the SkyTran website, commuters would travel in two-person pods, suspended from a monorail above city streets that are used on-demand rather than on a set schedule. 

"There's on-ramps and off-ramps to the actual station," Straley said. "Once you are on the main line you are non-stop to your destination."

The technology is similar to existing magnetic levitation technology used in high-speed trains, but on a much smaller scale.

"It's an incredibly minimalistic design," Straley said. "It basically just replaces the light posts along the road. All they look like is just a light post with just a foot wide rail."

Tests planned for San Francisco

He admits it sounds a bit out there, but a prototype will be tested in San Francisco by 2013, he notes.

"People are like 'Oh, it's Jetsons!'" Straley said. "And it's not. It's here now, it's using today's technology."

He says the high-tech system would not cost taxpayers a dime because he expects private investors will cover the costs.

"Our main problem is during rush hour, when all our commuters flood our road," Straley said. "But if you take out the commuter issue and get people to commute by this type of system, then people visiting our city have these nice open roads that go through our city."

The city's regional services director Ron Westlake, who oversees transportation issues says he wants to hear more but adds that Kelowna would want to see the system working somewhere else before taking it on.