It’s no secret that America needs to improve and expand our mass transit systems. With congested highways and roads, high fuel and vehicle costs, and concerns about the environmental impact of personal vehicle use, 77% of Americans want more transportation options and more investment in existing systems.1 And with the passing of the US Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, $39 billion has been earmarked for transit – a 43% increase above the FAST Act, making now the best time to start.
However, building out entirely new transit options can, by some estimates, take a minimum of 90 months2 to complete. What can be done today? To encourage riders to increase use of existing systems, the answer is clear: make the experience accessible, efficient, and safer for everyone.
That’s what Seattle Center Monorail wanted to achieve. The city-owned Seattle Center Monorail originally opened in 1962 for the Seattle’s World’s Fair and is designated as a Historic Landmark. However, the downtown Westlake station needed renovation and upgrades in anticipation of increased ridership during the Seattle Kraken’s NHL inaugural season at Climate Pledge Arena. Those upgrades included improving the method in which riders exit and enter trains to and from the platform at Seattle Center. STANLEY Access Technologies worked with Seattle Monorail Services LLC to develop a system that would improve public transportation safety, increase public transportation efficiency, and ensure that doors and gates open reliably for the monorail’s annual two million riders. And there was a critical deadline - the renovation needed to be completed before the Kraken’s NHL regular-season home debut on October 23, 2021. With STANLEY Access Technologies’ experience designing, building, and installing platform screen doors and gates of transportation systems worldwide, we were up to the task.
Right away, we were faced with two main technical challenges. The first was connecting the entrance solution to the existing roof structure for lateral structural support while accommodating vertical roof deflection. The second was designing a segmented threshold which allowed partial removal for servicing the motorized extension bridges at each opening. STANLEY Access Technologies resolved these challenges and designed, built, installed, and tested eight (8) full-height platform screen doors on the platform edge inside the station. These reliable entrance technologies protect passengers and prevent mishaps from occurring – making safety and security top priority.
After careful planning, STANLEY Access Technologies was able to complete the renovation in September 2021 before the Kraken hit their home ice. The system has been operating at peak performance ever since and Seattle Center Monorail was pleased with the results. According to Eno Yliniemi, Chief Systems Engineer for Seattle Monorail Service, “The reliability, aesthetic, and serviceability of the door system is far better than the previous gate system.”
“The reliability, aesthetic, and serviceability of the door system is far better than the previous gate system.” — Eno Yliniemi, Chief Systems Engineer, Seattle Monorail Service
The implementation of better transit doors is one step towards building a country with more efficient and safer options for transport. As we look towards the future, innovating and executing quickly will be a key strategy for success.
Peter DeLeonardis is the Director of Transit at STANLEY Access Technologies
1 https://t4america.org/2020/03/17/voters-want-and-need-more-transportati… 2 https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/why-building-r….