First you may want to know What is a PRT?
…Think of a commuting (transportation) system that has all the conveniences of a car as well as the benefits of public transportation in one. Cars have the capacity for a private personalized transportation environment with the freedom to travel to any destination, while public transit systems have the benefits of a safe stress free, effortless commute while you can focus on other tasks such as reading a book, newspaper, internet, talking on the phone or watching some TV …and all without having to pay for insurance, gas, repairs or the car itself. Combining the benefits of both cars and transit is inevitable progress and a paradigm that we have not often seen in operation. The technology has arrived and is ready to go in the form of PRTs.
PRT = Personal Rapid Transit (Pod Cars)
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, the best way to introduce you to PRTs is to see this video. At 30 frames per second, this video is worth 30 x 1,000 each second, or 1.8 million words each minute (That’s a lot of words!), so check it out.
You can check out more on the Vectus website here http://www.vectusprt.com, although there are other companies out there like UltraPRT and Skyweb Express also called Taxi2000. At present the Vectus system appears to be the most developed system even though UltraPRT is already implemented in the Heathrow airport. My personal understanding of UltraPRT is that they use batteries to operate which from a sustainability perspective is not ideal.
7 KEY REASONS WHY YOU’LL SEE PRTs IN YOUR FUTURE…
- The CONSTRUCTION of a primary portion of the transit system can take place over a very short time (< 3 year), as compared to the 5 to 10 for planning and construction of subways or light rails. Do not underestimate the importance of the speed of implementation, with gas prices targeted to continually increase over the coming years.
- The FLEXIBILITY of the system to continually grow and extend into places that light rails and subways could never go. We can start building primary lines, targeting the most users right from the beginning, then extending to all areas based on demand as the system continually expands. A major advantage of the system due to the reduced cost is to extend one way looped lines into smaller neighborhoods which reduce the walking distances for the elderly and disabled users. This is ideal compared to the traditional transit park-and-ride locations or supplemental lines to connect up to main mass transit routes.
- Get the diesel pollutant, traffic congesting, dangerous trucks off our roads! The ADAPTABILITY of the system to accommodate transportation of goods during off peak hours for localized delivery services that could also be partially paid for by couriers like UPS, Fedex, USPS, etc. is another major benefit. Imagine the trucks that could be replaced and new businesses and jobs that could be created with localized neighborhood electric transporter cars that only have to travel a few blocks.
- The COST of getting a PRT system up and running is just a fraction of the cost of light rail or subways. Compare as much as $450 Million per mile for construction of subways in LA to a conservative estimate of $14.5 Million per mile for PRTs, which means you can cover a much larger expanse. Because the price is more achievable, private developers can pay for extending the system into their projects at no cost to the tax payers. PRT stations could be sponsored by developers or the private sector, like Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Toyota, etc. paying a premium for a Mercedes pod with high tech stereo, interiors, video playback, etc. The system would automatically return those pod cars back to their stations automatically. The economic incentives and opportunities are clearly diverse.
- All the personal CONVENIENCES of PRTs… You get your own private car where you could listen to the radio, watch tv, use WiFi internet access, or just read… all by yourself during your commute. Direct station-to-station commute without ever stopping along the way. Compare this to NYC successful subway system, where the majority of the time in transit you are waiting for other people to get on and off the trains. Imagine if your pod car was always an Express line directly to your stop. No accidents and expensive insurance or car payments. More frequent and closer stops to your destinations.
- The EFFICIENCY of having a light unstaffed pod car that is such a small fraction of the weight of a light rail train or monorail requires less energy to move and much thinner and lighter structures to elevate, which also have less of a visual impact on the environment. Think about how a similar light rail, subway or monorail travels at a minimum of 5 minute intervals , where a PRT system can have pod cars running at 2-3 second gaps one right after the other. It is clear to see which would use the track more efficiently?
- HIGH TECH & ENVIRONMENTAL appearance of the PRT system that will attract attention from all over the world. The PRT track can be retrofitted with solar and wind electricity generating devices. If funding isn’t completely available yet, have a plan in place for local businesses to lease portions of the elevated track to purchase solar panel arrays to enhance the neighborhoods sustainability and give communities more of reason to support the system.
This technology is a no brainer, the flexibility and ease of implementation will allow a minimal investment to test the system out and once that happens, the city that begins this global trend will be seen as a leader towards environmental progress.
I personally think this is the solution to many of our national challenges that we face today, including our dependence on oil, cost of our continuously more valuable time spent in traffic, stress of driving and the secondary effects on our social and family life, cost of gas which inevitably will go back up to above $4 / gallon, fatalities from traffic accidents, and many more.
As a visionary urban designer, I hope that others have the insight to see the massive benefits of PRTs for our environment, way of life and our economy.
You can learn more from –>WikiPedia.org.