The operation of Japan's oldest monorail line will be suspended at a Tokyo zoo in November following a 62-year run as the current vehicles are getting old, the metropolitan government said Wednesday.
The government remained vague about whether the monorail run at Ueno Zoological Gardens would resume after a hiatus starting Nov. 1, citing high operation costs.
[Photo courtesy of the Tokyo metropolitan government's Transportation Bureau]
The zoo began to use the system, which has a 300-meter track and hanging monorail cars with arms only on one side, in December 1957 as a pilot project in which Tokyo sought an alternative to street cars in the postwar period.
The monorail has two-car runs under the track between the eastern side and western side of the zoo. The 90-second trip costs 150 yen ($1.4) and has drawn more than 1 million passengers a year, according to the metropolitan government.
The zoo will use ground transportation such as electric vehicles for free of charge after it halts the monorail system, the metropolitan government said.
The zoo began to use the current cars in the year through March 2002.
As there is no other monorail line in Japan that use similar models, it might take three years to manufacture a new unit and cost the local government a lot to renew cars as well as pay for power and other facilities.
(The monorail in October 1957, two months before service began)
An official of the metropolitan government implied it is premature to make any final decision about whether to maintain the monorail as those involved fully recognize it is popular among visitors.
"We will consider various avenues to take such as getting new monorail cars as well as trying other transportation," the official said.