Communication on the Rails: A New Era

As my College Program comes to an end, so does an era in monorails. As of right now, monorail drivers have complete control over piloting the monorail. Soon, however, that will not be the case. The current 12 Mark VI monorail trains will run on an automated system, and that system will affect both monorail drivers and operators alike. The system was reported back in 2014, but never really came to use until now. Communication in monorails will change as a result of the change in monorail operations, and I have recently experienced this change on a firsthand account.

With the current system, drivers use this console to drive the train. The lever on the right controls the train movement. With the new system, drivers can simply sit or stand in the cab hands-free. (via

On Wednesday, Disney Transport made this new system available to guests to observe/experience for the first time. When drivers come into the station, they normally rocket in at high speeds. However, the automated trains call for slightly slower speeds. Although it may seem like the wait times for guests would be longer due to this aspect, it generally did not effect wait times at all. From a greater standpoint, the new system has led to much less downtime due to mechanical malfunctions, and we had no issues on the beam during our first test with guests.

Communication in general is being reduced greatly. For example, there is much less radio traffic. When there are no problems or constant changes, there is no need to use the radio. Another difference now will be that the monorail operator on the platform will push a button to close the doors and will not need to communicate to the driver with hand signals to close them.

Even though I will not become trained on the new system because it will not be regularly used until after I am gone, I still must adapt to the situation when the automation is in use. I make sure guests do not have the opportunity to accidentally push buttons on any of the consoles. I also must make sure guests are completely inside the monorail as quickly as possible after the gates close, since the trained operator on the platform must close the doors instead of the driver. The driver can look straight down the monorail train, while the platform operator must look both ways. As the automated system develops even further, there will be more communication techniques that drivers and platform operators learn.



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