[Update, January 26, 2017: Yesterday, just hours after publishing Soonish Episode 1.02 and this supplementary interview, I received the sad news that Kim Pedersen had passed away after a long battle with cancer. My thoughts are with Kim's wife Carol and the whole family. I've recorded a new introduction to the full episode dedicating it to Kim's memory. And I'm leaving this interview here as my own small tribute to his work to help the world learn about monorail technology. —Wade]
There's probably no one in the world better versed on the history and varieties of monorail technology than Kim Pedersen, the founder and president of the Monorail Society. When he agreed to talk with me for Soonish Episode 1.02, "Monorails: Trains of Tomorrow?," I knew the story would turn out okay. The sound file above is the full recording of my October 2016 interview with Kim at his home in Fremont, CA.
Kim founded the society of monorail fans and monorail professionals—which has 7,000 members around the world—back in 1989. He's traveled the world to visit and ride monorails of every type. In fact, he and his wife Carol plan many of their vacations around destinations with monorails. Kim collects monorail memorabilia, and he's even an accomplished painter of futurist art, including, of course, cityscapes graced with monorails.
In 2015 Kim distilled all this knowledge into a gorgeous, image-rich, 248-page book called Monorails: Trains of the Future—Now Arriving. The book became my bible on the history and engineering of monorails as I was doing the research for this episode.
In the interview, Kim talks about the origins of his interest in monorails; the birth of the Monorail Society; the inextricable ties between Walt Disney and monorail development in the US; his own efforts to help get a massive regional monorail project off the ground in Seattle; the boom in monorail construction in other countries; and the difficulties besetting the technology here in America.
Kim's house abuts the Fremont tracks of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority system, and he built a platform over the back fence where he and Carol can relax and watch the trains zoom past. That's where we finished up the interview.