The search for clean, efficient and non-annoying urban transit has take another U-turn, with a new version of an older idea—a monorail—possibly headed to a live test in the northern France city of Lille.
The system, called Supraway, uses an elevated trackway to move passenger pods with with seven to nine seats using solar power; rather than the usual tram or subway that makes repeated stops, each pod would head to a selected destination; passengers would wait for the right pod.
The Lille real estate federation is paying for a feasibility study to be used by the Regional Council to decide whether to go ahead; the cost is estimated at about €10-12 million per kilometre, a tenth of the cost of subway and less than half the construction cost of trams.
The original proposal is for a 7 km line from the city center to the airport, with possible other lines as long as 40 km to suburban areas around the city. Lille has a population of about 230,000 but is the center of a million-plus metro area.