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Route disagreements postpone monorail extension decisions

Date Posted: 2007-11-09

A sixth conference of the Okinawa Urban Monorail Analysis Committee has ended with a decision not to make a decision, delaying until next year selecting the route for a planned monorail extension.

Two routes have been identified, but disagreements over which is the better choice has led the committee to seek public involvement from Okinawa citizens, then make a decision next March. “My opinion is the Urasoe route,” says committee chairman Kiyoshi Uema, a professor at the University of the Ryukyus.” He says the committee, as a whole, favors the Urasoe route over the Fukushi Welfare Center route, but “there were strong opposing opinions that came out, eading to the decision to delay until next year.”

The Yui-Rail committee is studying the route for extending the monorail system from Shuri Station to the Okinawa Expressway Nishihara Interchange. The Urasoe route has been favored as the more influential, “because in the future this route will bring strong ridership to the Chubu area,” an official says. He adds the route would cause more people to use the monorail.

Comparing the two routes, officials point out the Urasoe route would have a daily ridership of 9,700, compared with 8,400 on the Welfare Center route. Construction costs for the Welfare Center route are much lower, ¥17.5 billion compared with ¥22.1 billion for the Urasoe route, but analysis committee members say the increased number of passengers would ultimately offset the higher construction costs.

The committee says long term planning reflects higher numbers of monorail passengers in the Nishihara Town to Ginowan City areas, all of whom would be better served from the Urasoe route. The committee, as a whole, says profits will come later, and the Urasoe route is better for Yui-Rail’s future.

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