Port Harcourt Monorail - August 2014 Update
Phase 1A covers 2.6 Kilometres of Single Track
Phase 1B will extend the system from UTC Station to Waterlines Station (Adding 3.9 Kilometres of Dual Track)
and also converting the existing 2.6 Kilometres of Phase 1A into a Dual Track System.
The entire Monorail system including Phase 2, should cover 19.5 Kilometres of track, making it similar in scope to Line 2 of the Chongqing Monorail.
The monorail system will operate the P30 Intamin technology, under operating speeds of up to 80 km/hr. 1 P30 will be in operation in Phase 1A, while 6 will be in operation in Phase 1B. Each train will consist of seven cars.
80% of the funding will be derived from TSI Holdings, while the remaining 20% will be funded by the Rivers State Government.
The initiative has been criticized by many observers as being unnecessary and wasteful. Many have mentioned that the distances between stations are even walkable. Conventional standards stipulate that, the acceptable walking radius for a centre is 400 metres, while the walking radius to a rail station is 800 metres. Assuming that there is a developed catchment of (400 metre Radius) around the rail centre, it should be acceptable for any given individual to walk 800 metres to a rail stop.
Interestingly, the exact distance between UTC Station and Isaac Boro Station is 800 metres in length. This suggests that the acceptable walking distance of a developed catchment area is equal to the transit route, which could be problematic. Fundamentally, people walk longer distances to travel longer distances and conversely, they walk shorter distances to travel shorter distances.
Essentially, it is logical that people may walk up to 20-30% the length of their journey, but in circumstances where they are walking 30-50% of their journey, the frequency of the transit system has to be quite high.
Image Source: http://www.activehealthycommunities.com.au/content/walking-and-cycling-pedshed-analysis
1) The Monorail stations have to be perceived as part of a larger and integrated system. The monorail stops must be seen as intense and serviceable centres. Once there is intensity of land uses and activity and a program built on complementary uses, then suddenly the Azikiwe-Ikwerre axis for example, may be seen as an urban corridor of intense and vibrant activities
2) These intense and vibrant activities (based on complementary hubs, such as: retail, commerce, restaurants and cultural precincts) must also be serviced by a transit system that is frequent, with trains arriving at 5 - 15 minute intervals. This ensures that a 800m walking time to a station (Sharks Park Station e.g.) translates to 10 minutes of walking and about 2/3 minutes of travel to Azikiwe Station. If we had wait times, this could translate to 17 to 28 minutes of travel time, from point of origin to access and then to egress. If this exercise however was conducted purely by walking, then this would take 30 minutes. So best case scenario, the user saves 13 minutes of time or even 11 minutes (assuming no wait times) and worst case scenario, the user saves only 2 minutes of time.
3) The beauty of the system however lies in the combination of the first and second points, which is an integrated system, with a high frequency of movement. The greatest sacrifice that a user makes is the first 400 metres of walkability to get within the intense zone of development. Thereafter the user can make compounded savings of time, by moving through a fluid system, at each stop he/she arrives at a complimentary hub of activities and on each occasion time is saved.
The onus is therefore on the Rivers State Government to ensure accessibility, by ensuring that each transport node (whether it be Monorail, Bus stops or other future rail extensions) are no greater than 400 metres from the vast majority of the population. The monorail should be complemented by other forms of transit and it should complement other forms of transit. All the while, there should be a desirable rent model around the catchment areas to achieve highly developed outcomes and a program that works.
Some of the ideas captured in this analysis were referenced from here.