ATRA Board Meeting – Keynote Speech

April 16th, 2014

ATRA Board Meeting – State of the Industry – 4/15/14


  • Existing Projects
  • Suppliers
  • Potential Owners
  • Technology Changes
  • Is PRT Tipping?

Existing Projects

Masdar City recently announced expansion of the PRT system to the city center. Suncheon entered limited public service in August, 2103. It is scheduled to enter full public service this Sunday, April 20. Heathrow Airport included expansion of the PRT system in its official budget, but has since invoked budget cuts that include the PRT expansion. The existing service is functioning very well and demand keeps growing. Morgantown is upgrading their PRT control system to improve reliability.


Ultra has announced opportunities in South America and Asia. The project in Amritsar, India seems stalled. We are aware of opportunities in the US being pursued by Ultra, 2getthere and Vectus. We are sure there are many more opportunities they are pursuing around the world that we are not aware of.

Modutram recently successfully deployed a demonstration system in Mexico that carried passengers.

Skytran has changed their design to have a double guideway with the vehicle either supported or suspended. There is talk of them launching in Israel

Taxi 2000 has been making numerous trips to Greenville, SC.

Potential Owners:

Public Sector

We are doing a PRT study for Greenville, SC for a system utilizing an abandoned railroad right-of-way. We are talking to a large, rapidly growing, county interested in incorporating PRT in their transportation plan. The City of Kirkland, WA recently held a symposium aimed at learning about advanced transit and educating elected officials and agencies at the state and city levels. Airport interest continues. It least one metropolitan transportation authority is open to a PRT solution.

Private Sector

Some developers now see the value of PRT in boosting property values. More than one corporate campus is seriously interested in how PRT could solve their accessibility problems. Some large EPC companies now see the opportunity to expand their businesses on the basis of PRT.

Technology Changes

The lines between PRT and GRT are becoming blurred. PRT projects may include ride sharing, coupled vehicles and/or larger vehicles.

Gondolas/ropeways are a technology that is catching on quite rapidly. Their niche overlaps a bit with the PRT niche.

The advent of automated cars makes it easier for people to accept PRT can be done. Some think automated cars/taxis will replace PRT but, in my opinion, this won’t happen for a long time, if ever. There will be a market for automated guideway vehicles for a very long time to come.

Is PRT tipping?

The best we can do is share our experience. We started our business in 2005 doing mostly airport consulting and a little PRT consulting.  By 2011, 35% of our projects were PRT, last year was up to 63%, so far this year it is at 98%. Paying projects last year were 43% higher than the average of the previous two years. So far this year, in three and a half months, we are already up more than 30% over all of last year. We have ten people (not all full time) based in three countries and four US states being paid to work on PRT projects. It seems to us like it is starting to tip.

Peter J. Muller, P.E.

President, PRT Consulting, Inc.

New to PRT

April 9th, 2014

New to PRT by Kate Engel, Executive Assistant, PRT Consulting

Before November 2013, ‘PRT’ was just an acronym I thought depicted the initials of my new boss.  When I was informed of its true meaning, visions of the old cartoon show ‘The Jetsons’ came to mind: sky vehicles hovering over cities, self-driving themselves to their destinations with the push of a button.  Needless to say, I wasn’t too far off!news_Jetsons

As a layman in these waters, I was fascinated.  Years of working in the travel industry, living in cities, commuting, and traveling throughout the world have prepared me for this…a greater convenience at a lower cost.  What wouldn’t I give to be able to ‘ditch’ my car during rush-hour for a direct commute, or to be able to park in the ‘cheap’ lot at the airport and hop on a podcar NON-STOP to the terminal.  Heck!  To be able to take a podcar from close to home directly to the airport would be ideal!

The industry and its’ technology are still young, but as more people in ‘decisive’ positions learn about this option, and more ‘laymen’ like myself to discover this ‘commuter methodology’, the greater the demand will be.  Which major city will be first to embrace PRT?

news_skytran10sSo, after 6 months of working in this fascinating industry, I am now familiar with terms like GRT, APM, magnetic levitation, guideways, and podcars.  I can site the many advantages of PRT, and can now truly envision a futuristic environment not too different from what the Jetsons cartoon depicted all those years ago…

Personal Rapid Transit News (April 2014)

April 9th, 2014

Breaking news related to automated transit networks (ATN – an umbrella term for personal rapid transit (PRT) and group rapid transit (GRT) systems, also known as podcars), along with links where available. Reader beware: we publish links to articles that appear to be newsworthy, without concern as to whether or not they are for or against PRT and without checking their sources. Comment directly on the original article, not here.

ModuTram Photos

For an excellent selection of ModuTram photos, Click Here….

news_Google busesCouncil wrestles with growing commute traffic woes

Downtown transit station overwhelmed by employee shuttles…   In a city where job growth never seems to quit, a growing number of workers commuting to Mountain View is causing a problem. In a study session Tuesday, April 8, it was revealed that more than a few of the city’s streets have recently reached the lowest possible grade for traffic — an “F” — while the downtown transit station is seeing 57 different employee shuttle services during rush hour, lining Evelyn Avenue and using space in the station’s bus turnout. Read More…

news_SuncheonNews2Eco Trans Suncheon, Korea’s first PRT ‘Sky Cube’ formal opening on the 19th

Suncheon Bay Garden, connecting the first domestic train of small unmanned orbital Sky Cube (SkyCube), is officially opening on the 19th.  ‘Sky Cube’ is a train of small unmanned orbital PRT (Personal Rapid Transit).  Suncheon Eco Trans announced the opening at a Suncheon International Wetlands Centre conference room presentation the day before. Read More… Note:  Please select Translate to read in English.

Suncheon Bay, Korea

news_SuncheonNews14The Suncheon Bay Garden Transit System opened on April 20th.  It is the first with unattended service railcars (PRT · Personal Rapid Transit) in Korea.  Suncheon Bay ATN system only connects the garden and a park and ride in small unmanned railcars with a total of 4.64 kilometers and a total of 40 service vehicles. Railcars have the latest Galaxy Tab 2 to provide real-time service information and a tour guide within the state-of-the-art facility.  Suncheon Bay ATN streams along the bridge with a speed of 40 ㎞ per hour for about 20 minutes, when passengers can relax and enjoy the breathtaking views of Dongcheon.  Read Here.. Note:  Hit  Translate to view in English.


Air passengers could soon be whisked from Paisley to Glasgow Airport in futuristic travel pods, the Paisley Daily Express can exclusively reveal.  The driverless electric shuttles would carry travellers from Gilmour Street train station to the terminal on an elevated track above the town.  The £72 million scheme is one of the options suggested in a new report which looks at possible new links to the Renfrewshire airport.  The computerised system would be only the fourth of its type in the world, with each cart taking four people and luggage to the jet hub at the touch of a button. Read More…


West Virginia University’s Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system will be undergoing some modernization improvements this summer. In an effort to achieve the necessary PRT system upgrades, it will be necessary to shut down operations beginning May 5th with normal operations resuming Monday, August 11th. This shutdown is needed for a variety of capital and maintenance projects. The capital projects include the repair of the Hospital Tunnel and the retrofitting of the PRT vehicles with a new propulsion system.  Read More…

news_podcar8Post-Car Urbanism:  Implications for Town & Airport District Planning

The 8th annual Podcar City conference will advance the vision of sustainable urban transportation that reduces our auto-addiction and its high costs. Most modern countries are auto-addicted. Recent converts are in oil-rich areas and the choking cities and towns of India and China.  Auto-addiction is life when cars serve almost all everyday needs. On the whole, and especially from a community viewpoint, this degrades the quality of life. Whenever too many people want to gather somewhere, parking becomes a problem. If more people walked, rode bikes or came by transit attractive enough to make them prefer it, community life would improve. Automated Transit Networks (ATNs) do that.  Read More…

Personal Rapid Transit News (March 2014)

March 3rd, 2014

Breaking news related to automated transit networks (ATN – an umbrella term for personal rapid transit (PRT) and group rapid transit (GRT) systems, also known as podcars), along with links where available. Reader beware: we publish links to articles that appear to be newsworthy, without concern as to whether or not they are for or against PRT and without checking their sources. Comment directly on the original article, not here.

Unfortunately, the pod car never took off

Mountain View residents who may have dreamed of seeing a space-age transportation system of “pod cars” strung along Shoreline Boulevard between downtown and the North Bayshore had to be disappointed when the City Council pulled the plug on a small investment in the experimental system proposed by SkyTran.  Read More…

WVU finance committee gets update on athletic facilities plan, PRT modernization

Significant facilities improvements and investments are in store for West Virginia University athletic facilities and the Personal Rapid Transit system, pending Board of Governors approval at the April 4 meeting as well as further authorization from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission at its April meeting.  Read More..

news_LHRpod2The Heathrow Pod

The Heathrow pod is Ultra Global’s innovative Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system at London’s Heathrow Airport, the service provides passengers transport between the airport’s Terminal 5 and a designated business car park. The PRT system has been open since May 2011 and has carried close to a million passengers. Mark Griffiths is Ultra Global’s Head of Operations and has been in charge of the team of controllers and technicians responsible for the day to day running of the system. Some of the stats from the system include:

  • Saved 200 tonnes of Co2 from the previous bus service
  • Has taken 70,000 bus journeys off of Heathrow’s congested roads each year
  • Has been voted the best passenger service on the airport campus
  • The pods at Heathrow have travelled over 2 million autonomous kilometres  …Read More…

SP body seeks detailed info on transport system

THE City Council’s committee on transportation has requested Polish inventor Ollie Mikosza, proponent of the Metropolitan Individual System of Transportation (Mister), an elevated rail personal rapid transfer system (PRT), to provide them a much more detailed information on the new transportation system.  The Mister-PRT system is a “high level mini-taxi” service where small, fully automatic, air-conditioned, driverless, and light weight pods are propelled by pollution-free motors.  Read More…

Mountain View passes on funding pod car projectnews_skytranMtview

The Mountain View City Council isn’t interested in becoming a crusader for pod car technology.  The council reached that conclusion following a discussion Tuesday night about a request by skyTran, a Mountain View-based firm developing “personal rapid transit” technology, to participate in talks about creating a $750,000 federal grant program to fund a proof of concept demonstration project.  Read More..

news_MtViewPlanMake-or-break council decision on pod cars tonight

Tonight City Council members will decide what to do about their longstanding interest in having an automated transit network in Mountain View.  The futuristic idea is being raised as a way to deal with traffic congestion in Google’s neighborhood north of Highway 101, where 3.4 million square feet of new offices could be built under a land use plan the council is considering this year.   Read More….

West Virginia transportation system inspires Lubbock monorail ideanews_mtown2

Morgantown PRT system costs $5.5 million per year to operate; funded by mix of federal money, student fees and rider fares.  Texas Tech and Lubbock developers aren’t the first from a large university or a medium-sized city to consider campus-to-downtown transit.  Big 12 rival West Virginia University has had a system designed to do just that in place for three decades.  WVU’s Personal Rapid Transit system is a public transportation service that connects downtown Morgantown with the university’s three campuses. Students, faculty and staff, as well as the general public, use it. It’s funded largely by student fees, and it’s working, administrators say.  Read More…

news_skytranMountain View at a crossroads with pod cars

The Mountain View City Council is set next week to consider ramping up the city’s involvement in the development of so-called pod cars as one potential solution to local gridlock.  SkyTran, a Mountain View-based firm developing “personal rapid transit” and “automated transit network” technologies, is looking for the city to back its efforts to build a “proof-of-concept” demonstration project at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field.  Read More…

Futurist Thomas Fray

Futurist Thomas Fray

The Next Bold Step in Transportation:  Personal Rapid Transit Systems

Throughout history, speed has been synonymous with greatness. In sports, those who ran the fastest were heroes. In times of war, those with the fastest chariots, ships, planes, and weapons had a significant advantage. In the business world, a company’s competitive edge has typically been formed around speed – quickest delivery, fastest transaction times, or speed of information.  With the aid of technology, we’ve found ways to speed up communications – voice, text, email, social networking, and even delivery systems. But we’ve only been able to achieve minor advances in the speed of physically traveling somewhere.  Read More…

Proposed transport system tackled todaynews_MisterPRT

THE Davao City Council, through the committee on transportation, is set to hold a committee hearing today on the proposal of a Metropolitan Individual System of Transportation to set up an Elevated Rail-Personal Rapid Transit (Mister-PRT) system by Polish inventor Ollie Mikosza, an official said.  Based on technical descriptions contained in the proposal, Mister “is a ‘high level mini-taxi’ service where small, fully automatic, air-conditioned, driverless, and light weight pods are propelled by pollution-free motors.”  Read More…

news_Navia100Driverless shuttle makes rounds with self-sufficient, 24-hour capability

A driverless shuttle made a brief appearance at the Cottages at Brushy Creek last week to introduce engineers, businessmen and the public to the testing of Induct’s Navia 100 – an all-electric vehicle. A touch screen display illustrates the stops on the course mapped by GPS. Users can summon the shuttle with their smart phones.  Navia has zero emissions, can travel at 12.5 mph and carry up to eight passengers. It is fully electric and recharged by induction – using magnetic fields – without the need for cables or human intervention, allowing it to be self-sufficient and run 24 hours a day.  Read More….

news_MontgomeryMakeover Montgomery II, a conference to be held May 8-10, 2014 in Silver Spring Maryland, will include an ATRA presentation showing attendees how PRT can be used to enhance light rail and bus rapid transit. The primary example will be PRT enhancements to the future Montgomery County, Maryland Bus Rapid Transit Network. The PRT network would act as a circulator shuttling passengers from the single BRT stop to their building in the Shady Grove complex. Read more…

news_Heathrow2014Video: The future of driverless transport is hiding at Heathrow

Driverless vehicles are either the future of motoring or the death knell for public transport, depending on whether you take your travel news from Google or the RMT.  But tucked away beyond domestic arrivals at Heathrow is a driverless transport network that has been running successfully for nearly three years and is the first of its kind in the world, with ambitions to be one of Britain’s biggest exports in the industry.  Read More, View Video…

Cross Kirkland Corridor Symposium Summary

February 25th, 2014

By Kate Engel

The Kirkland Symposium was held on Saturday, February 8, 2014 with good attendance.  The agenda consisted of a brief Welcome and Introductions by Darcy Nothnagle, Public Affairs and Government Relations Managers, Western Region, Google (in whose building the meeting took place).  She emphasized that Google promotes a ‘green’ environment and greatly supports the efforts that will be discussed in the Symposium since they will be directly affected by the decisions made in Kirkland.

This was followed by some brief comments on the theme ofSuburban Transit Innovations’:

Mayor Amy Walen, City of Kirkland

Mayor Amy Walen wants to find ways to make transit happen sooner and applauds the goals of the symposium!  She set the theme ‘Why Not Us?’ and ‘Why Not Now?’ as the Cross Kirkland Corridor theme for innovation.

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, 1st Congressional District of Washington

Strongly agreeing with Mayor Walen, Suzan DelBene applauded the areas’ “incredible spirit of innovation” and creativity, as well as  a community of risk-takers.  She agrees that the vision for Kirkland is ‘futuristic’ and believes that Kirkland will build a world-class, public amenity.

Triplet KS 1Kurt Triplett, City Manager, City of Kirkland

Kurt, the Symposium’s organizer, also believes that the NW region is one of great innovations.  He continued to tout the ‘Why Not Us’ theme of the symposium.  He challenged attendees to ‘use our imaginations to move forward’, and reminded all why we are here.  He asked:  ‘How do we create brand new, clean, green, transportation technologies that fit into the suburbs, that don’t have emissions, that are quiet, and don’t need gas.”   He showed existing Kirkland transportation modes, but highlighted the ‘gaps’ that need to be discussed today.  Planning for today and future is an important component in meeting the demands in the timely matter.

The rest of the day was split into 4 panels with multiple speakers in each followed by a brief Q&A session.  Here is a brief summary of those panels and speakers, in order of presentation:

Panel 1:  The Corridor Connections to our Regional Transportation System facilitated by Mark Hallenbeck, Director, UW Washington State Transportation Center

Mark emphasized what a wonderful opportunity we have to build something great here!  However, we must support our Public Servants in getting the public to, literally, ‘buy’ into whatever we come up with.

Judy Clibborn, Chair, House Transportation Committee, Washington State Legislature

Judy discussed the intricacies of government funding for transportation, and the battle for funds.  She advised of the newest ‘Senate package’ coming out next week that will provide needed funding for the 520 Highway, no tolling on I90, and a number of major projects based on freight mobility.   To get packages approved, there is a lot of compromise.  They must concentrate on completing existing projects as well as maintaining existing roadways.  They also compete with non-transit needs such as education (which is a mandatory expenditure).  She continues to champion the way for funding transportation, but asks local governments to keep pushing to find creative ways to fund transit needs.

Lorena Eng, P.E. Regional Administrator, Northwest Region, Washington State Department of Transportation

Lorena Eng announced the new governor’s mission:  ‘Be the best at providing a sustainable and integrated, multi-modal transportation system’.  The value is to view innovation as ‘sustainability’ with goals for modal integration and smart technology.  She featured current integrations of ‘smart technology’ in the area that support the commitment to an innovative future in line with the goals of this symposium.

She asked:  How can we build on the technology that’s out there?  And how can we link the new technology to existing transit:  buses, rail, streetcar, ferries….  Input from this symposium will go into their ‘plan’!

Trinity Parker, Depart of Planning, Environment and Project Development, Sound Transit

Sound_KSFilling in for Ric Ilgenfritz, Trinity Parker explained the Sound Board has 18 people who meet, discuss, and determine needs for the area.  They gather demographic data to determine needs – highlighting population employment areas and how to connect them.  Plans are already in the mix to increase Light Rail by 2023 to 33 stations, 14 cities and over 280,000 riders/day – up from current 30,000.  This Sound Board as the ability to fund future projects, and estimates that by the end of 2014, they could start the steps to get the ‘Cross Kirkland Corridor’ on the ballot for funding.

Harold Taniguchi, Director, Department of Transportation, King County

LongRangeHarold’s concerns include all modes of transportation, from Ferries to Vanpools.  Sales Tax is the predominate factor in the revenue structure and the recent economic downturn affected their spending, requiring them to ‘buckle’ down and make changes accordingly.  King County already offers a huge variety of transit modes including:  Vanpools, Vanshares, DART, Dial-a-ride, Water taxis, Rideshares, hybrid-electric buses, electric trolley/bus fleet, Metro-pool, and they are installing electric stations.  They have re-assessed needs based on new ridership studies, but believe that with more service comes more riders, and they have come up with an elaborate, methodical method for determining service levels and demands which will help propel them into the future.

Panel 2:  Introduction to Advanced Transportation Technology, facilitated by Dr. Stanley E Young, President, Advanced Transit Association, University of Maryland Center for Advanced Transportation Technology

ATN_KS2Dr Young gave a general overview of PRT:

-Fully automated

-Typically small vehicles (- 4 passengers)

-Rapid (25mph)

-Direct origin to destination

-3 Second headway

He also defined ATN as a more inclusive term for automated transit.

So, what about automated vehicles?  And how will that affect our transit concepts?  Although not a big discussion here today, but certainly something to consider.  He also offered up some ideas for ATN as an activity center circulator and major transit feeder, or as a Transit Interconnect as being discussed as options in the D.C. area.

3sysPTT_KSPeter Muller, President, PRT Consulting

There are currently 3 systems in use today, with data and statistics to validate concerns.  Each system operates a bit differently:

  • Masdar City, Abu Dhabi (4 passengers)
  • London, Heathrow Airport, U.K. (4 PAX + luggage)
  • Suncheon, Korea (6 PAX seated, 6 standing)

Mr. Muller also explained the statistical comparisons between these

systems. He showed results from numerous studies in the US and abroad that indicate the high level of service of ATN will dramatically increase overall transit mode share.

David Gow, Editor, PRT NewsCenter

STARR_KSAddressing GRT (Group Rapid Transit), David explained that GRT lies somewhere between PRT and mass transit (e.g. Bus/Streetcar/LRT/Metro/Intercity).  He gave us a ‘history’ of GRT, starting in the 1960s when the Urban Mass Transit Admin was formed and tasked with ‘PRT Implementation’.  The resulting “STARR Car” was promoted and demoed in Morgantown, WV (due to political connections of the US Rep there).  There were trials and tribulations (including locking Julie Nixon in the car during the highly publicized introduction), but eventually Morgantown became one of the first successes of PRT/GRT, linking campus for the UWV.  It is still in existence today!

Panel 3:  Opportunity for Emerging Technology on the Cross Kirkland Corridor, facilitated by Steve Marshall, Executive Director, Center for Advanced Transportation and Energy solutions

With the focus on emerging technologies, Steve emphasized the need to provide accident-free, congestion-free, lower-cost, green transportation in the future.  We are looking at huge changes in transit that the CKC can help bring in from the future!  He challenged the panel to discuss 3 Qs:

What other cities are using this ‘futuristic’ transit?

Do any systems meet the CKC requirements?

What the opportunities for expansion?

LevX_KS1Jo Klinski, Chief Operating Officer, LEVX

As a local NW company, LEVX has long integrated smart technology into their company focus.  They focused on replacing weight-bearing wheels with magnetic levitation.  She explained what their technology could look like in CKC.

  • The system would operate above ground with minimal structural needs, adding to safety, land usage efficiencies, and possible additional bonuses (restrooms for pedestrian/cycle paths).
  • Bi-directional guideways, with options for a variety of vehicle sizes; from 6 PAX to 80 PAX – operating on the same track, thus filling needs for high-demand times vs low-demand.
  • Options for freight vehicles on the same track.
  • Ability to extend into Redmond and additional communities beyond.
  • Low energy usage, as well as being non-electric (stills runs even if the local power goes out)

Estimated data provided that shows a   Renton to Woodville/Redmond line, end to end, would be FASTER than driving HWY 405 the same distance!


Robert Baertsch, EVP Software Engineering, SkyTran

The BIG Question?  How do you fund these systems?  Robert challenged that cost is directly connected to the weight, and SkyTran provides an excellent alternative to higher-cost, heavier systems.  The SkyTran vehicles holds only 2 passengers, keeping weight, hence, costs, down.

The fundamental differences with SkyTran from other PRTs is SPEED!  SkyTran provides a 2 speed guideway that allows for an inner-city speed of 40mph and a ‘suburban’ speed of 100mph.  Like RevX, it operates on a magnetic elevation system or magnetic ‘wings’.  Their aluminum rails are simple to manufacture, also at a lower cost.  The guideways are narrower (4 feet wide) and boasts the option to be ‘hanging’ or ‘top riding’ .  Using solar power is also an easy add-on with the less-intrusive, minimal infrastructure needed to support SkyTran.  He emphasized that SkyTran is FAST, SAFE, GREEN, and ENERGY efficient.

CyberKSNeil Sinclair, Chairman, CyberTran International Inc.

A group of engineers were tasked to define the needs and abilities for the best solution to high-cost, efficient transit, and they came up with utilizing old and new technology.  They combined the traditional ‘steel wheel on steel rail’ system used today with the smart technology of the future to suggest an ‘ultra-light rail system’.  This would be a combination local, commuter, and high-speed system that can travel FAST (150mph), with an optimum capacity of 6-30 passengers, and could run on electric or solar energy.  Stations might also include TOD.  The last slide depicts a modern vision for the CKC.

cableKSSteven Dale, Founding Principal, Creative Urban Projects

Cable-propelled transit has been around for years…and it just gets better!  This is a PROVEN system that boasts of lower costs, faster implementation, and a bit of ‘flare’.   Images of falling off ski-lifts as a child meld with the newer, bigger, cable-car systems in use today:  Medellin, Columbia (now in its’ 3rd phase addition), Sentosa, Singapore (one station built into an existing high-rise), Roosevelt Island, NY (recently renovated).  Cable transit is one of the fastest growing technologies in the world today, with Latin America as its ‘epicenter’.  It is, again, a PROVEN system with lower implementation costs, less invasive, and with a bit of ‘tourism’ added in, possibly profitable.

Panel 4:  Case Studies:  Implementation of Advanced Transit Systems, facilitated by Jon Pascal, Principal, Transpo Group; Chair, Kirkland Planning Commission

Jon Pascal challenged:

How do we get beyond the academic side? What does it take to implement an advanced transit system? What are the things that regional and local areas need to think about? And how do we operate it over time?

IstituteKSRon Swenson, Co-Founder, International Institute of Sustainable Transportation
It takes a lot of different players to come up with the best solutions, and incorporating Universities into the mix (as they have done in Europe and Mexico) is an excellent option.  Ron’s group issued a challenge to universities to come up with ideas, and the results were amazing.  Industrial Design students, Urban Planning students, and even MBA students offered input.   Some of the results of their efforts showed:

  • Solar power should be used (yes, even in Seattle)
  • Speed, end to end, should be better than driving.
  • There should be a ‘direct’ connect (bypass any ‘center point’)
  • Vehicles should be suspended for narrower, less invasive design

Ron stressed that we all need to raise the bar to succeed!

SJCAP_KSLaura Stuchinsky, Sustainability Officer, City of San Jose Transportation Department (virtual)

Tasked with Project Management of a feasibility study to connect the SJC airport with existing transit, Laura determined that the original idea of APM connecting underground was too expensive, but a form of PRT was more flexible and less costly.


  • Better quality of service (could actually provide additional stops/advantages for passengers)
  • Capital Costs were lower
  • O & M costs were similar to bus shuttles


  • Exceeded proven capabilities
  • Costs and Risks high until 1) Refine/Confirm capabilities and business cases and 2) US regulation requirements are established

Conclusion:  The City of San Jose turned down the options as there are too many ‘unknowns’; however, the City of San Jose does see ATN/PRT as a viable options for future projects, and they have actually identified several locations for future discussion.

Fred Payne, County Councilmember, Greenville, South Carolina

GSPKSSelf-professed academic, non-bureaucratic civil servant, Fred Payne, discussed how they used Steven Covey’s 7 ‘habits’ to come up with a plan for implementing PRT.   Using the end goal of GreenvilleVillages Development helped them plan their implementation for a multi-modal transit system utilizing 3.4 miles of railroad track they purchased.  This systematic process, along with a lot of research will propel Greenville, SC into the future!

news_Moti KSMoti Pinhassi, Urban and Regional Planner, City Center Renewal Division, Netanya Municipality, Israel (virtual)

As a University student, Moti was challenged by a Professor to ‘show the future’ in the year 2050.  He came up with a design of a downtown street that held no cars, just a park with an elevated, ATN system.

When he looked online, he found it already existed, and that shaped his future endeavors.  He now works in Netanya, Israel and is working on a solution for transit within this town ‘divided’.  Like Kirkland, a major highway separates the 2 sides of the town – old town and new.  The old town suffers from congestion and a lack of parking, which prohibits growth and deters prospective visitors.   Moti believes that PRT is a viable solution to their space and structural challenges, and will promote PRT as their best option.

CaseDENKSPeter Muller, President, PRT Consulting

Once again, Peter Muller joined in to show case studies of actual comparisons of PRT to other modes of transit.  He provided statistics on PRT vs  Circular Bus, BRT (Greenville), LRT (Denver), Rail (Chicago), and Ft Carson (Colorado).

Each instance showed positive impact when choosing PRT – both in the efficiency and cost factors for implementation.

This concluded the panel discussions, and what ensued were open, facilitated discussions.  To view in its entirety, View Here…

Personal Rapid Transit News (February 2014)

February 19th, 2014

Breaking news related to automated transit networks (ATN – an umbrella term for personal rapid transit (PRT) and group rapid transit (GRT) systems, also known as podcars), along with links where available. Reader beware: we publish links to articles that appear to be newsworthy, without concern as to whether or not they are for or against PRT and without checking their sources. Comment directly on the original article, not here.

news_Navia2Greer Memorial Hospitals Tests Driverless Navia Shuttle

GREER, S.C. -The Cottages at Brushy Creek on Greer Memorial Hospital Campus tested out Induct’s Navia 100% electric driverless shuttle. The shuttles carry up to eight people and navigate the roads by using advanced robotics, laser mapping technology and sensors to detect the vehicle’s acceleration and rotation.  Navia instantly calculates its position, nearby obstacles, route and distance traveled in real time, enabling it to carry its passengers quickly, safely and efficiently. It can also weave around pedestrians.  Read Here…

news_Navia1Unmanned shuttle drives people around Greer Memorial with ease

GREER, SC (FOX Carolina) – It may look like something out of the future, but they were spotted across the Greer Memorial Hospital campus on Friday.  The latest in electronic vehicles is used to cart people around the campus – without drivers.  The cars, called Navia, use advanced robotics, laser mapping technology and sensors to detect the vehicle’s acceleration and rotation to transport up to eight passengers to from one destination to another. To view Video and  Read More…


Ambitious PODS project yet to see the light of day

While the City Bus Service has finally started here after a long wait of seven years, the city was promised a lot more in terms of a regulated system of public transport to ease congestion on busy roads, especially in the form of the ambitious Personal Rapid Transit System (PRTS), also known as the PODS project, which was announced by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal over two years ago, but the project is yet to see the light of the day.  Read More…

news_DavaoProposed transport system tackled today

THE Davao City Council, through the committee on transportation, is set to hold a committee hearing today on the proposal of a Metropolitan Individual System of Transportation to set up an Elevated Rail-Personal Rapid Transit (Mister-PRT) system by Polish inventor Ollie Mikosza, an official said.  Based on technical descriptions contained in the proposal, Mister “is a ‘high level mini-taxi’ service where small, fully automatic, air-conditioned, driverless, and light weight pods are propelled by pollution-free motors.”   Read More…


Modutram (Autotrén) system

Please enjoy these pictures from the successful demonstration of a 100% functional Modutram (Autotrén) system at the Convention Center WTC-Morelos in conjunction with Green Solutions 2013 .  View here…

Kirkland CableCommute by gondola? Kirkland may be up for the idea

Unpredictable public-transit solutions from Sound Transit and King County Metro are prompting Kirkland to explore innovative commuting alternatives such as air gondolas.  Visions of traveling by gondola usually include floating through Venice or approaching a freshly powdered ski slope, for most Americans — not getting around Kirkland.  But that could change sooner than you might think.  Antsy for affordable and green transportation alternatives, City Council members, the city manager and the mayor have started exploring the addition of air gondolas into its public-transit mix.   Read More…

news_mtown7Winter weather causes Morgantown transportation woes

West Virginia University students rely on the PRT and Mountain Line bus service on a daily basis to get to class, the Student Recreation Center, the hospital and the dining halls.  However, due to the vast amount of snowfall in the past months, there have been many transportation delays.  “Lately because of the snow, the PRT has been down and no bus drivers who came to the Beechurst station would take me to Health Sciences,” said Cameron Ferdinand, a medical laboratory science student. “I understand that the snow is an issue, but it’s frustrating when I’m trying to get to class and have to find a ride last minute.”  Read More….

news_kirklandAdvanced Transportation Symposium

On February 8, 2014 the City of Kirkland took a look into the not so distant future by hosting a symposium on 21st Century Suburban Mobility Solutions. The purpose of the symposium was to bring together government and private sector transportation interests to share their knowledge about advanced transit options that are being developed and implemented throughout the world.  Note: This Website has a 6 hour video of the Symposium; however, we will soon post a Blog with a summary of the proceedings for those who want a shorter ‘review’.  Read More….

A great day in Kirkland – but someone was missing

Saturday’s Cross Kirkland Corridor Advanced Transportation Symposium (“the Symposium”) was, in this participant’s estimation, a smashing success in terms of establishing policy gravitas and as a successfully planned and executed event. Held February 8 at Google’s Building in Kirkland, the Symposium drew federal, state and local lawmakers, business people, transportation officials, and a variety of vendors and activists from the field of high-technology transit…   Read More….

Personal Rapid Transit News (January 2014)

January 9th, 2014

Breaking news related to automated transit networks (ATN – an umbrella term for personal rapid transit (PRT) and group rapid transit (GRT) systems, also known as podcars), along with links where available. Reader beware: we publish links to articles that appear to be newsworthy, without concern as to whether or not they are for or against PRT and without checking their sources. Comment directly on the original article, not here.

Greenville Personal Rapid Transit


Call a private vehicle to a transit stop.  Select your destination.  Hop in and be whisked away non-stop to where you want to go.  It is point-to-point.  It is on-demand.  It is private.  It is a revolutionary urban mass transit system coming to Greenville.  Most riders will choose to ride it because it provides connectivity…Read More…

news_Transport1970People Movers:  The Great Transportation Promise of the 1970s

In the 1970s, personal rapid transit (PRT) was supposed to be America’s great transportation savior.  It combined the privacy of a privately owned car with the efficiency of mass transit. But despite a great deal of hype, this futuristic transportation tech is still mostly relegated to the future that never was. Serious research on PRT systems was already taking place in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s — when the economy was in the toilet and the energy crisis hit — that it started to become a mainstream cause in futurist circles.  Read More…

news_kirklandKirkland Thinks Outside The Box For Cross Kirkland Corridor with Transportation Symposium

The terms Skytran, Cybertran, and Personal Rapid Transit may sound like words you would hear in a futuristic movie or read in a science fiction novel.  But they are names for cutting-edge transportation technologies that leaders from Kirkland and around the region are exploring at an upcoming transportation symposium.  Read More…

Interview:  Steve Severance Makes the Business Case for Masdar City

news_SeveranceAbu Dhabi’s sustainability week – one of the largest sustainability gatherings in the world – draws more than 30,000 participants from 150 countries. As a key organizer of the event, Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, receives a great deal of attention from visiting dignitaries, world leaders and media alike.  I had a chance to sit down with Steve Severance, manager of program management and investments for Masdar City, to discuss how the company is walking the fine line between sustainable innovation and savvy business management.  Read More…

news_podpodMarch of the pods: How design is going egg-shaped

Conjugate the verb “to pod”. I pod, you pod, we pod, they pod … yes, the pod is set to come bursting out of solitary confinement thanks to a multitude of design innovations to whisk you and your overstuffed luggage around airports, send you cruising the oceans and at the end of it all give you a place to grab a quick snooze. From this year, the pod will no longer be the lonely preserve of “I” because everybody will be in or on one…Read More…

Amritsar3Government puts brakes on PRTS system

The state government’s ambitious Personal Rapid Transit System (PRTS) appears to have been put on     the back burner as Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal stated that the only company that had come      forward to execute the project had doubtful credibility.  Read More…


New Year Energy Burst

2014 starts with an upsurge if active demands for modern    mobility options, with much focused on the maturing forms  of ATN now available or judged within technological reach with modest risk.  On January 10, the mayor of Huntsville AL will unveil plans for CBD redevelopment that include a simple three-station APM.  Read More…

Cutting-edge public transport

news_LHR14 Personal rapid transit (PRT) pods may appear as something exclusively restricted to sci-fi films, but at Heathrow airport this cutting-edge transportation is very much a practical reality. In 2011 the airport became home to the first commercial PRT application in the world, with the purple pods whisking passengers from the Terminal 5 business car park to the main terminal building.  Read More…

wvuTransportation Gets Personal

When West Virginia University opened its personal rapid transit(PRT) system in 1975, it seemed on the edge of high tech. The short distance, small vehicle-focused people transporter helped the university to expand enrollment from 10,000 to 30,000, by enabling tighter class schedules and ensuring students could arrive on time. Read More…

Read More…

Some Thoughts on PRT Station Layouts

January 8th, 2014
Offline Station with Offline Bays

Offline Station with Offline Bays

A major advantage of PRT is the ability to provide offline stations that allow vehicles to go non-stop, from origin to destination. The ability to have station bays that are offline to each other was first conceived during the Heathrow Project and has also been implemented at Masdar City.

Offline Station with Inline Bays

Offline Station with Inline Bays

On the other hand, the Suncheon project has a more conventional layout where the bays are in line with each other.  In-line bays are more efficient and require less vehicle dwell time. However, a delay in a preceding vehicle delays following vehicles. This is not thought to be a significant problem given the high reliability of PRT systems and their simplicity of use. Now that Suncheon is operational, we should be getting data regarding the effectiveness of inline station bays.

Offline Bays Requiring No Reversing

Offline Bays Requiring No Reversing

The late Professor Martin Lowson patented a modified station bay layout that allows independent vehicle operation without requiring the vehicles to back up.   This more efficient operation is partially offset by the need for a longer platform to accommodate vehicle departures.

In considering a PRT system serving a commuter rail station, PRT consulting developed the conceptual station layout shown below. It combines elements of in-line and offline stations and is expected to be quite an efficient way of laying out a large capacity station.

Offline Station with Inline and Offline Bays

Offline Station with Inline and Offline Bays

It should be noted that offline station bays require vehicle paths to cross each other. While this can be safely accomplished in a station environment by open-guideway type PRT systems (such as Ultra and 2getthere), captive-bogey systems (such as Vectus and Taxi 2000) probably will not be able to maneuver in this way.

Personal Rapid Transit News (December 2013)

December 17th, 2013

Breaking news related to automated transit networks (ATN – an umbrella term for personal rapid transit (PRT) and group rapid transit (GRT) systems, also known as podcars), along with links where available. Reader beware: we publish links to articles that appear to be newsworthy, without concern as to whether or not they are for or against PRT and without checking their sources. Comment directly on the original article, not here.


Masdar 3 year anniversary

On November 28th 2010 the Masdar City PRT application was the world’s first podcar system to open to the general public. Last week the system celebrated the completion of its third year of operation, having transported over 819,000 passengers during that time. Read more…

news_sj2Silicon Valley moving on and those who make it happen

As usual, many of the things that changes our world start in Silicon Valley. Today the Podcar/ATN community experiences a dramatic increase of interest from universities and cities in The Valley. Under leadership from Ron Swenson of INIST, seven cities and three universities now collaborate in moving the technology and good use of sustainable transportation forward. Read more…

news_arupPRT at Heathrow – 2 years on

Has the project been successful and is Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) the way forward for ‘last mile’ solutions?
It is two years since Vince Cable came to visit the opening of the Arup designed PRT system at Heathrow Terminal 5.
Has the project been successful and is Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) the way forward for ‘last mile’ solutions? It is two years since Vince Cable came to visit the opening of the Arup designed PRT system at Heathrow Terminal 5. Read more…

news_sjsSpartan Superway

Late last month just before Thanksgiving, San Jose students explained their design work for a solar PRT project in front of professors and mostly California officials and various citizens concerned about carbon emissions and the crying need for serious alternatives to driving for general community and metro mobility. Read more…

news_wasWashington Dysfunction

APTA claims to speak for US transit. Strangely, it has little to say about full automation, and more specifically about driverless metros. Can we expect better from the USDOT or Congress? Read more…

news_ultra13Ultra Global and Taiwanese partners to carry out landmark study into Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)

Ultra Global is delighted to announce that it has signed a contract with its partners China Engineering Consultants Inc (CECI) to carry out a feasibility study into the deployment of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) within Taiwan. The agreement, the first to explore Ultra’s transport technology in Taiwan highlights the continued interest being shown in PRT across the South East Asian region. Read more…

Platform Doors – a Necessary Evil?

December 3rd, 2013

All three modern personal rapid transit (PRT) systems presently in public operation have platform doors which are synchronized with the vehicle doors and which remain closed unless a vehicle is present. These doors perform two primary functions:

  1. They prevent access to the track from the platform
  2. They prevent conditioned air from escaping into the track area

Before we consider whether or not these doors are necessary perhaps we should first discuss their evil nature. Certainly they are not the worst things that could be imposed upon a PRT system. However, they do add quite significantly to the capital and operating costs. Furthermore, they are an added complexity in a system that is already complex. They can fail and, especially with in-line station bays, their failure can cause significant system disruption.

There is no doubt that human or animal access to the track from the platform is undesirable – whether intentional or accidental. The question is whether or not platform doors are required in order to sufficiently prevent access. The best answer seems to be to look at systems with a long history of operation. Train systems around the world operate without platform doors but do not have impeccable safety records. However, trains enter the platform area at high speed and often have high-voltage third rails at track level. The track environment is thus extremely dangerous and can easily lead to accidental or intentional (suicidal or murder) death.

PRT systems with their offline stations do not have vehicles passing through at high speeds and often do not have electric third rails, although these may be replaced by safer battery recharge connection plates. Fortunately there is one such system that does not have platform doors from which we can gather data. Morgantown has no platform doors but does have an electric third rail system. While the platform has a railing, this railing is discontinued at the boarding positions and track access is readily available from the platform. Signs instruct passengers to keep clear of the platform edge and, it is believed, controllers warn passengers on the public address system who are observed straying too close. This simple methodology has successfully prevented any accidents in more than 50 million passenger boardings over a period of about 38 years. Proof enough?

Morgantown Platform Warning Sign

Morgantown Platform Warning Sign

Using platform doors to contain conditioned air is obviously only necessary if the platform air is conditioned. It is probably a vital function in systems with extreme weather conditions such as the Masdar PRT system near Abu Dhabi.

The need for PRT platform doors is a topic that needs further research. In the meantime it appears doors may be difficult to justify from a safety standpoint based on the Morgantown experience. If this is correct, they may be an evil necessitated mostly by extreme weather conditions.