Posts Tagged ‘Transit’

Cross Kirkland Corridor Symposium Summary

Tuesday, 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!

skyT_KS

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.

Positives:

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

Challenges:

  • 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…


3rd International Conference on Urban Public Transportation Systems

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Paris, France, November 18 – 20, 2013

Although lightly attended, this conference was dynamic with high-quality speakers and audience. There were two sessions devoted to PRT with a total of six PRT-related papers.

Design and Innovation

Personal Rapid transit Live Applications Challenges by Joerg Schweizer, Ph.D., University of Bologna, Italy, addressed the pros and cons of PRT systems with a focus on those presently in service. Dr. Schweizer set the stage for the following presentations by outlining PRT characteristics and explaining PRT functionality.

PRT Urban Applications, Small to Large by Peter Muller, PRT Consulting, investigated three potential PRT applications in urban settings. It concluded that PRT can be a great rail extension alternative – in the applications examined it could provide a wider service area for less cost. PRT also has good potential as an area-wide networked transportation system and could be quite cost effective even in relatively sprawling suburban neighborhoods

PRT Statewide Application: The Conceptual Design of a Transit System Capable of Serving Essentially all Daily Trips by Alain Kornhauser, Ph.D., F.ASCE, Princeton University reported on a body of work undertaken by Princeton students to examine PRT in the State of New Jersey. Micro-modeling of population and demographics was used to determine trip demands.

Planning & Operations

Planning for Personal Rapid Transit – How to Plan for this Paradigm-Breaking Mode of Transportation by Peter Muller, PRT Consulting was a primer aimed at outlining key differences between PRT and conventional transit planning. It provided a summary of the characteristics of the Heathrow (Ultra), Masdar City (2getthere) and Suncheon (Vectus) PRT systems and concluded that PRT could dramatically increase transit ride share, cover its own operating (and possibly capital) costs and thus potentially be a game changer.

PRT Mode Share Estimations Using a Direct Demand Stated Preference Method by Joerg Schweizer, Ph.D., University of Bologna, Italy described a fascinating study where PRT mode share was estimated by questioning potential riders without ever describing PRT to the respondees. In all cases, the study found that transit use would be boosted considerably if an area-wide PRT system was added.

PRT as a Supplement to Existing Transportation Modes by Ingmar Andreasson, Ph.D., LogistikCentrum, Sweden described various studies that had investigated how PRT could supplement conventional transit. It found that PRT could boost transit ridership by acting as a collector/distributor helping to solve the last mile problem. It also found that PRT could quite successfully deal with surge loads at a train station.

Conference Season

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
Conference Season
The conference season seems to be upon us so here is some information (in date order) about some upcoming conferences relevant to personal rapid transit.
Innovations In Sustainable Transportation Conference, Renaissance Flatiron Hotel, 500 Flatiron Boulevard, Broomfield, Colorado 80021, October 10-11, 2013. This conference will include plenaries, break-out sessions, exhibits, and several opportunities for participants to meeting informally with one another. It is intended for:
Anyone who shares a passion for sustainable transportation
Thought leaders involved with innovative transportation ideas for last mile, medium distance, and long-range travel
Inventors, researchers and educators working on new transportation technologies
Business owners, manufacturers, and investors interested in the next wave transportation systems
Speakers include:
Daryl Oster: CEO, ET3 Global Alliance
Steven Dale: President, Creative Urban Proj. Inc.
Paul Williamson: Science Advisor, SkyTran
Emily Drennen: CEO, SMARTmuni
Bill James: Founder and CEO, Jpods
Jim Turner: CEO, Optibikes
Shyla Liebscher: GIS System Analyst
Clyde Mann: Founder “Day of Innovation”
Will Toor: SWEEP, Transportation Prog. Dir.
Peter Muller: President, PRT Consulting, Three PRT Case Studies
The conference starts with a reception at 5:00 PM on October 10 and, on the 11th , has sessions and networking from 8:00AM to 6:00 PM. Conference Website.
Podcar City 7, Innovations in Public Transportation, George Mason University, Arlington, VA, October 23-25, 2013. The purpose of this conference is To provide a networking environment to educate, facilitate and convene for a free flow of thoughts, ideas and concepts – to develop and showcase new and improved modes of transportation based on sustainability and renewable energy so that the efficiency and state of existing transportation systems can be improved and enhanced.
The keynote presentation will be by Congressman Jim Oberstar and speakers will include:
Rod Diridon
Magnus Hunhammer
Stefan Hanna
Christa Lopes
Ron Swenson
Matthew Lesh
Alain Kornhauser
Burford Furman
David Little
Shannon McDonald
Ann-Chr Frickner
Susan Herre
Donna Maurillo
Peter Muller
Sanjeev Shah
Fred Payne
The conference is presented by INIST in cooperation with ATRA, Kompass, US DOT, George Mason University and the Mineta Transportation Institute. It starts with a reception from 5:00 to 7:00 PM on the 23rd. On the 24th sessions are from 8:45 AM to 5:30 PM followed by a banquet at 7:30 PM. Sessions start at 9:00 AM on the 25th and conclude at 5:00 PM. Conference website.
3rd International Conference on Urban Public Transportation Systems, National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, Paris, France, November 17 – 20, 2013. This Conference will offer a forum for civil engineers seeking to address civil engineering applications associated with all modes of public transportation, including bus and rail. Papers of particular interest to this audience include:
PRT Statewide Application: the Conceptual Design of a Transit System Capable of Serving Essentially All Daily trips – Alain Kornhauser, Ph.D., Princeton University, USA
Planning for Personal Rapid Transit: How to Plan for this Paradigm-Breaking Mode of Transportation – Peter Muller, PRT Consulting, USA
PRT Mode Share Estimations using a Direct Demand Stated Preference Method – Joerg Schweizer, Ph.D., University of Bologna, Italy
PRT Urban Applications, Small to Large – Peter Muller, PRT Consulting, USA
Personal Rapid Transit Live Applications Challenges – Joerg Schweizer, Ph.D., University of Bologna, Italy
PRT as a Supplement to Existing Transportation Modes – Ingmar Andreasson, Ph.D., LogistikCentrum AB, Sweden
This conference is presented by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Conference website.
The conference season seems to be upon us so here is some information (in date order) about some upcoming conferences relevant to personal rapid transit.

Innovations In Sustainable Transportation Conference, Renaissance Flatiron Hotel, 500 Flatiron Boulevard, Broomfield, Colorado 80021, October 10-11, 2013. This conference will include plenaries, break-out sessions, exhibits, and several opportunities for participants to meeting informally with one another. It is intended for:

Anyone who shares a passion for sustainable transportation
Thought leaders involved with innovative transportation ideas for last mile, medium distance, and long-range travel
Inventors, researchers and educators working on new transportation technologies
Business owners, manufacturers, and investors interested in the next wave transportation systems

Speakers include:

Daryl Oster: CEO, ET3 Global Alliance
Steven Dale: President, Creative Urban Proj. Inc.
Paul Williamson: Science Advisor, SkyTran
Emily Drennen: CEO, SMARTmuni
Bill James: Founder and CEO, Jpods
Jim Turner: CEO, Optibikes
Shyla Liebscher: GIS System Analyst
Clyde Mann: Founder “Day of Innovation”
Will Toor: SWEEP, Transportation Prog. Dir.
Peter Muller: President, PRT Consulting, Three PRT Case Studies

The conference starts with a reception at 5:00 PM on October 10 and, on the 11th , has sessions and networking from 8:00AM to 6:00 PM. Conference Website.

Podcar City 7, Innovations in Public Transportation, George Mason University, Arlington, VA, October 23-25, 2013. The purpose of this conference is To provide a networking environment to educate, facilitate and convene for a free flow of thoughts, ideas and concepts – to develop and showcase new and improved modes of transportation based on sustainability and renewable energy so that the efficiency and state of existing transportation systems can be improved and enhanced.

The keynote presentation will be by Congressman Jim Oberstar and speakers will include:
Rod Diridon
Magnus Hunhammer
Stefan Hanna
Christa Lopes
Ron Swenson
Matthew Lesh
Alain Kornhauser
Burford Furman
David Little
Shannon McDonald
Ann-Chr Frickner
Susan Herre
Donna Maurillo
Peter Muller
Sanjeev Shah
Fred Payne

The conference is presented by INIST in cooperation with ATRA, Kompass, US DOT, George Mason University and the Mineta Transportation Institute. It starts with a reception from 5:00 to 7:00 PM on the 23rd. On the 24th sessions are from 8:45 AM to 5:30 PM followed by a banquet at 7:30 PM. Sessions start at 9:00 AM on the 25th and conclude at 5:00 PM. Conference website.

3rd International Conference on Urban Public Transportation Systems, National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, Paris, France, November 17 – 20, 2013. This Conference will offer a forum for civil engineers seeking to address civil engineering applications associated with all modes of public transportation, including bus and rail. Papers of particular interest to this audience include:

PRT Statewide Application: the Conceptual Design of a Transit System Capable of Serving Essentially All Daily trips – Alain Kornhauser, Ph.D., Princeton University, USA
Planning for Personal Rapid Transit: How to Plan for this Paradigm-Breaking Mode of Transportation – Peter Muller, PRT Consulting, USA
PRT Mode Share Estimations using a Direct Demand Stated Preference Method – Joerg Schweizer, Ph.D., University of Bologna, Italy
PRT Urban Applications, Small to Large – Peter Muller, PRT Consulting, USA
Personal Rapid Transit Live Applications Challenges – Joerg Schweizer, Ph.D., University of Bologna, Italy
PRT as a Supplement to Existing Transportation Modes – Ingmar Andreasson, Ph.D., LogistikCentrum AB, Sweden

This conference is presented by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Conference website.

Surface Transportation System Automation

Monday, April 15th, 2013
Surface Transportation System Automation
Introduction
The US department of Transportation is presently soliciting input on the above topic. Our response to some of their subtopics is presented here.
General
1. Role of government
Federal government should work to understand how market forces and regulatory requirements may unbalance the playing field to the detriment of society. Some examples follow, comparing autonomous vehicles to personal rapid transit (PRT) where PRT is a systematized form of autonomous vehicles travelling on separated fixed guideways and functioning as a public transit system, while autonomous vehicles function individually and travel on the open road.
If autonomous vehicles can increase road safety and capacity, significant benefits will accrue to the travelling public. PRT is already proven to reduce road congestion and to be orders of magnitude safer than cars and transit and, if it also proves to be scalable, significant benefits will accrue to the traveling public. It seems that both technologies (variations on the same theme) have the potential to significantly benefit the travelling public and will probably each address different segments of the market that may blend over time.
a) Market forces
Since autonomous vehicles will mostly be sold to the general public and since they are being developed as incremental modifications of conventional automobiles, the barriers to entry are not high. In addition, since most households own cars, the general interest in autonomous cars is naturally high and many already dream of owning one.
On the other hand PRT is a system that requires new infrastructure. Even though the total cost of a PRT system per passenger mile can be much less than the total cost of the road/automobile system, this requirement for new infrastructure is a huge barrier to entry. It means that most PRT systems will be purchased by government agencies and require significant upfront capital funding. Federal government agencies tend to react to requests from their constituents, many of whom have never heard of PRT and do not understand its potential to solve their problems. In addition, the political situation is such that a mayor would often rather wait for a $1 B light rail project with 50% FTA funding than proceed immediately with a $400 M locally- funded PRT project that does a better job but does not bring $500 M of federally funded jobs to his/her community. Even if the PRT project were FTA funded it would only bring $200 M federal money to the community. The current federal subsidy of fixed guideway projects is thus a barrier to entry for new, innovative and less expensive solutions.
In addition, federal funding of transit projects is biased towards conventional corridor-based modes since many qualification criteria are based on corridor analyses. PRT can function in a corridor but, in many applications, provides optimal service when functioning as a network. Since most people desire to travel from origin to destination with little or no need to pass through a corridor on the way, it would seem more appropriate to consider transportation alternatives on the basis of service area analyses rather than corridor analyses.
While it is appreciated that the scope of this RFI has been broadened to include PRT, this is insufficient. The scope needs to also include the driverless transportation of goods and freight – preferably not limited to roads but also including railroads. The driverless revolution will impact all of these modes and the interaction between modes must be understood if full advantage is to be taken of automation. The ability for automation to allow us to reinvent the entire surface transportation system (and some aspects of the air transportation system too ) should not be underestimated.
Automating cars in mixed traffic is a challenge. However, the mix of small and large vehicles may change dramatically if drivers are eliminated. To what extent will it be necessary to have large vehicles transport freight if all vehicles are driverless? What proportion of freight would be more economically and efficiently moved in small driverless vehicles that require much smaller and less expensive supporting infrastructure? How much less capital and O&M cost would be required for the infrastructure? What would the impacts on road congestion be?
The role of the federal government should be to understand the societal benefits of the different solutions and seek to balance market forces in a way that society receives the solutions it needs, not just the ones that natural market forces and political considerations tend to favor. The federal government needs to lead in the development of an integrated automated surface transportation system for people and freight that dramatically improves safety, efficiency and sustainability. Such a system needs to address all of the following issues related to surface transportation:
Congestion
Safety
Energy use
Foreign oil use
Emissions and climate change (cradle to grave)
Overall mobility/accessibility
Mobility/accessibility of non-drivers
Mobility/accessibility of non-vehicle owners
Logistics
Severance of neighborhoods
Right-of-way requirements
Capital, operating and maintenance costs
Walkability
Economic impacts
Land use
Specifically with regard to PRT, one role of the federal government should be to fund a PRT demonstration program. While many of the concerns expressed in the recent San José PRT feasibility study  may be easily addressed, some, such as scalability to large networks, require complicated hardware-in-the-loop evaluation, and almost all could be overcome with an extensive demonstration program. Without such a program, PRT in the U.S. will continue to languish behind systems being deployed elsewhere and will likely be limited to small campus-type applications for many years. A PRT demonstration program is needed in order to demonstrate if PRT is scalable to widespread urban deployment of the kind necessary to attract many drivers from their cars – a feature that could probably eliminate congestion long before autonomous vehicles are able to do so. If PRT can be widely deployed, its ability to significantly increase transit mode share has been demonstrated in many studies such as by Dekhordi  which show transit mode shares doubling, tripling and more in many European cities.
b) Regulatory Requirements
Cars have a horrendous safety record yet the general public seems to have grown immune to the dangers of driving – they are presently outraged at gun-related deaths but seem not to realize or care that even more are killed by cars every year. On the other hand the Morgantown PRT system has completed over 140 million injury free passenger miles in its 37-year existence – a safety record unmatched by any non-automated transportation system .
The regulatory requirements for PRT in the U.S. seem likely to be based on the ASCE Automated People Mover Standards which seems reasonable since PRT is a subset of automated people movers. The safety requirements in these standards are very rigorous and will result in PRT systems far exceeding the safety of driven systems.
The regulatory requirements for privately-used autonomous vehicles seem unclear but may be no stricter than those for present-day automobiles. Autonomous taxis on the other hand could be regulated as automated transit just like PRT. This could create an interesting situation where privately-used autonomous vehicles come to fruition quickly, but do not bring substantial safety benefits and autonomous taxis struggle for a long time to meet the rigorous standards PRT currently meets.
The role of the federal government should be to evaluate the benefits and costs of regulatory requirements w.r.t. safety (and other issues), to determine appropriate requirements and to ensure that all transportation systems provide similar levels of safety. The current disparity between automobile and airline safety should be eliminated (and not by decreasing airline safety!).
2. Smooth assimilation of automation into an integrated transportation system
PRT is leading the way in automating passenger vehicles because it is doing so in a controlled environment – automating vehicles on the open road is far more difficult and being undertaken in an uncertain regulatory environment. Autonomous vehicle developers could learn from the experience of the PRT community.
Smooth assimilation of automation into an integrated transportation system will not occur without a rigorous systems engineering process. This process must start at the highest level and incorporate all surface transportation. The federal government needs to initiate a process whereby the requirements for an integrated fully-automated transportation system of people and goods are developed and agreed upon. Only once we understand the end system that we are striving for can we know how each component should be developed and can we design a logical phased implementation plan. The opportunity exists for the U.S. to develop a revolutionary automated surface transportation system that is highly efficient and safe. It will probably require a Kennedy-like vision and sense of mission to accomplish this.

Introduction

The US Department of Transportation is presently soliciting input on the above topic. Our response to some of their subtopics is presented here.

General

1. Role of government
Federal government should work to understand how market forces and regulatory requirements may unbalance the playing field to the detriment of society. Some examples follow, comparing autonomous vehicles to personal rapid transit (PRT) where PRT is a systematized form of autonomous vehicles travelling on separated fixed guideways and functioning as a public transit system, while autonomous vehicles function individually and travel on the open road.

If autonomous vehicles can increase road safety and capacity, significant benefits will accrue to the travelling public. PRT is already proven to reduce road congestion and to be orders of magnitude safer than cars and transit and, if it also proves to be scalable, significant benefits will accrue to the traveling public. It seems that both technologies (variations on the same theme) have the potential to significantly benefit the travelling public and will probably each address different segments of the market that may blend over time.

a) Market forces

Since autonomous vehicles will mostly be sold to the general public and since they are being developed as incremental modifications of conventional automobiles, the barriers to entry are not high. In addition, since most households own cars, the general interest in autonomous cars is naturally high and many already dream of owning one.

On the other hand PRT is a system that requires new infrastructure. Even though the total cost of a PRT system per passenger mile can be much less than the total cost of the road/automobile system, this requirement for new infrastructure is a huge barrier to entry. It means that most PRT systems will be purchased by government agencies and require significant upfront capital funding. Federal government agencies tend to react to requests from their constituents, many of whom have never heard of PRT and do not understand its potential to solve their problems. In addition, the political situation is such that a mayor would often rather wait for a $1 B light rail project with 50% FTA funding than proceed immediately with a $400 M locally- funded PRT project that does a better job but does not bring $500 M of federally funded jobs to his/her community. Even if the PRT project were FTA funded it would only bring $200 M federal money to the community. The current federal subsidy of fixed guideway projects is thus a barrier to entry for new, innovative and less expensive solutions.

In addition, federal funding of transit projects is biased towards conventional corridor-based modes since many qualification criteria are based on corridor analyses. PRT can function in a corridor but, in many applications, provides optimal service when functioning as a network. Since most people desire to travel from origin to destination with little or no need to pass through a corridor on the way, it would seem more appropriate to consider transportation alternatives on the basis of service area analyses rather than corridor analyses.

While it is appreciated that the scope of this RFI has been broadened to include PRT, this is insufficient. The scope needs to also include the driverless transportation of goods and freight – preferably not limited to roads but also including railroads. The driverless revolution will impact all of these modes and the interaction between modes must be understood if full advantage is to be taken of automation. The ability for automation to allow us to reinvent the entire surface transportation system (and some aspects of the air transportation system too) should not be underestimated.

Automating cars in mixed traffic is a challenge. However, the mix of small and large vehicles may change dramatically if drivers are eliminated. To what extent will it be necessary to have large vehicles transport freight if all vehicles are driverless? What proportion of freight would be more economically and efficiently moved in small driverless vehicles that require much smaller and less expensive supporting infrastructure? How much less capital and O&M cost would be required for the infrastructure? What would the impacts on road congestion be?

The role of the federal government should be to understand the societal benefits of the different solutions and seek to balance market forces in a way that society receives the solutions it needs, not just the ones that natural market forces and political considerations tend to favor. The federal government needs to lead in the development of an integrated automated surface transportation system for people and freight that dramatically improves safety, efficiency and sustainability. Such a system needs to address all of the following issues related to surface transportation:

Congestion
Safety
Energy use
Foreign oil use
Emissions and climate change (cradle to grave)
Overall mobility/accessibility
Mobility/accessibility of non-drivers
Mobility/accessibility of non-vehicle owners
Logistics
Severance of neighborhoods
Right-of-way requirements
Capital, operating and maintenance costs
Walkability
Economic impacts
Land use

Specifically with regard to PRT, one role of the federal government should be to fund a PRT demonstration program. While many of the concerns expressed in the recent San José PRT feasibility study may be easily addressed, some, such as scalability to large networks, require complicated hardware-in-the-loop evaluation, and almost all could be overcome with an extensive demonstration program. Without such a program, PRT in the U.S. will continue to languish behind systems being deployed elsewhere and will likely be limited to small campus-type applications for many years. A PRT demonstration program is needed in order to demonstrate if PRT is scalable to widespread urban deployment of the kind necessary to attract many drivers from their cars – a feature that could probably eliminate congestion long before autonomous vehicles are able to do so. If PRT can be widely deployed, its ability to significantly increase transit mode share has been demonstrated in many studies such as by Dekhordi which show transit mode shares doubling, tripling and more in many European cities.

b) Regulatory Requirements

Cars have a horrendous safety record yet the general public seems to have grown immune to the dangers of driving – they are presently outraged at gun-related deaths but seem not to realize or care that even more are killed by cars every year. On the other hand the Morgantown PRT system has completed over 140 million injury free passenger miles in its 37-year existence – a safety record unmatched by any non-automated transportation system.

The regulatory requirements for PRT in the U.S. seem likely to be based on the ASCE Automated People Mover Standards which seems reasonable since PRT is a subset of automated people movers. The safety requirements in these standards are very rigorous and will result in PRT systems far exceeding the safety of driven systems.

The regulatory requirements for privately-used autonomous vehicles seem unclear but may be no stricter than those for present-day automobiles. Autonomous taxis on the other hand could be regulated as automated transit just like PRT. This could create an interesting situation where privately-used autonomous vehicles come to fruition quickly, but do not bring substantial safety benefits and autonomous taxis struggle for a long time to meet the rigorous standards PRT currently meets.

The role of the federal government should be to evaluate the benefits and costs of regulatory requirements w.r.t. safety (and other issues), to determine appropriate requirements and to ensure that all transportation systems provide similar levels of safety. The current disparity between automobile and airline safety should be eliminated (and not by decreasing airline safety!).

2. Smooth assimilation of automation into an integrated transportation system

PRT is leading the way in automating passenger vehicles because it is doing so in a controlled environment – automating vehicles on the open road is far more difficult and being undertaken in an uncertain regulatory environment. Autonomous vehicle developers could learn from the experience of the PRT community.

Smooth assimilation of automation into an integrated transportation system will not occur without a rigorous systems engineering process. This process must start at the highest level and incorporate all surface transportation. The federal government needs to initiate a process whereby the requirements for an integrated fully-automated transportation system of people and goods are developed and agreed upon. Only once we understand the end system that we are striving for can we know how each component should be developed and can we design a logical phased implementation plan. The opportunity exists for the U.S. to develop a revolutionary automated surface transportation system that is highly efficient and safe. It will probably require a Kennedy-like vision and sense of mission to accomplish this.

14th International Automated People Mover Conference

Thursday, February 28th, 2013
14th International Automated People Mover Conference
This conference will be held in Phoenix, Arizona April 21 – 24, 2013 and will have excellent PRT content. Martin Lowson of Ultra Global will represent the ATRA-Industry Group in the second morning plenary session on April 22 which involves a roundtable on the state of the APM industry. That afternoon Sam Lott of Kimley-Horn is likely to address PRT in his presentation titled Automated Systems for Last Mile Connections at High Speed Rail Stations.
There are three PRT breakout sessions starting on Tuesday morning and ending on Wednesday early afternoon. The presentations and presenters are as follows:
PRT 1
PRT at Heathrow: Delivering World Beating Customer Service, Phil Bly et al, Ultra Global
Masdar Experience, Robbert Lohmann, Henry Rökers, 2getthere
The Morgantown PRT Experiment/Experience and its Future, Arlie Foreman, Hugh Kierig, West Virginia University
Personal Rapid transit – User Interface, Jenny Baumgartner, Peter Chu, Lea+Elliott
PRT 2
PRT Connection of Transport Hubs, Adam Ruddle, Ultra Global
Station Dynamics Influencing Ride Sharing, Robbert Lohmann, Henry Rökers, 2getthere
San Jose International Airport Automated Transit Network Feasibility Study, William Baumgardner, Gary Hsueh, Arup
Sustainable APM Infrastructure at Airports, Robbert Lohmann, Henry Rökers, 2getthere
PRT 3
The Track to Suncheon: Making APMs Intelligent, Martin Pemberton, Vectus
Personal Rapid Transit – Computer Simulation Results and General Design Principles, Karminsky Bartlomie et al, Warsaw University of Technology
PRT Computer Network Simulation, Analysis of Flow Capacity, Wladzimierz Choromanski, Wiktor Daszczuk, Warsaw University of Technology
In addition to all of these PRT papers, there are many interesting presentations on APMs, autonomous road vehicles and fully automated cable car people movers, an exhibit hall and tours of the new Phoenix Airport APM. This is a conference well worth attending! I hope to see you there. Conference Website.
This conference will be held in Phoenix, Arizona April 21 – 24, 2013 and will have excellent PRT content. Martin Lowson of Ultra Global will represent the ATRA-Industry Group in the second morning plenary session on April 22 which involves a roundtable on the state of the APM industry. That afternoon Sam Lott of Kimley-Horn is likely to address PRT in his presentation titled Automated Systems for Last Mile Connections at High Speed Rail Stations.

There are three PRT breakout sessions starting on Tuesday morning and ending on Wednesday early afternoon. The presentations and presenters are as follows:

PRT 1
  • PRT at Heathrow: Delivering World Beating Customer Service, Phil Bly et al, Ultra Global
  • Masdar Experience, Robbert Lohmann, Henry Rökers, 2getthere
  • The Morgantown PRT Experiment/Experience and its Future, Arlie Foreman, Hugh Kierig, West Virginia University
  • Personal Rapid transit – User Interface, Jenny Baumgartner, Peter Chu, Lea+Elliott
PRT 2
  • PRT Connection of Transport Hubs, Adam Ruddle, Ultra Global
  • Station Dynamics Influencing Ride Sharing, Robbert Lohmann, Henry Rökers, 2getthere
  • San Jose International Airport Automated Transit Network Feasibility Study, William Baumgardner, Gary Hsueh, Arup
  • Sustainable APM Infrastructure at Airports, Robbert Lohmann, Henry Rökers, 2getthere
PRT 3
  • The Track to Suncheon: Making APMs Intelligent, Martin Pemberton, Vectus
  • Personal Rapid Transit – Computer Simulation Results and General Design Principles, Karminsky Bartlomie et al, Warsaw University of Technology
  • PRT Computer Network Simulation, Analysis of Flow Capacity, Wladzimierz Choromanski, Wiktor Daszczuk, Warsaw University of Technology
In addition to all of these PRT papers, there are many interesting presentations on APMs, autonomous road vehicles and fully automated cable car people movers, an exhibit hall and tours of the new Phoenix Airport APM. This is a conference well worth attending! I hope to see you there. Conference Website.

Dreaming Big or Small

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Personal rapid transit enthusiasts have long been proponents of dreaming big. City-wide PRT systems offering door-to-door service at speeds up to one hundred miles an hour are promised to soon also provide inter-city transportation at even higher speeds. After half a century of dreaming, the reality is two modern PRT systems in operation that have few vehicles, a handful of stations and a top speed of 25 mph. Both are out done by the 37-year old Morgantown “PRT” system with its top speed of 30 mph, its 5 stations and 70 vehicles. The Suncheon system, due to open early next year, will only have two stations but will boast 40 vehicles and, we believe, a top speed of around 40 mph.

PRT suppliers like to walk before they try to run. It only makes sense for them to start with small systems and gradually tackle larger and more ambitious projects. Potential customers are also cautious. Why should they take on a project much larger and more complex than anyone has done before? The only reason would be if there was no other solution and usually there is, even if much more expensive and less effective. Thus the growth in size and complexity of PRT projects is likely to be slow.
If PRT has the potential to help solve urban congestion, mobility and accessibility problems, slow growth is not acceptable. Using characteristics we believe to be safety certified by Vectus – a 6-passenger vehicle operating at 40 mph and a four second headway (time between vehicles) – simple analysis shows a capability exceeding that required for the Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport and the proposed Red Line extension in Chicago for substantially less cost and with a higher level of service. Consideration of the situations in cities like Mexico City, Mexico and Kampala, Uganda, both ranked among the most congested in the world, quickly shows that a cost-effective elevated solution could substantially reduce congestion and relieve its stranglehold on public wellbeing. The worldwide economic and health benefits of congestion relief in numerous cities are just too great for us to sit around and wait for PRT to slowly emerge.
My big dream is widespread urban PRT networks operating at average speeds between 30 and 40 mph and supplementing other forms of transportation. I believe such systems could very effectively reduce congestion and improve mobility, accessibility, safety and energy use. What will it take to realize such a dream?
I believe that the first and most important steps are to determine if PRT is up to the task. I think we are well on the way to knowing what the costs are – although the progression from custom to mass production vehicle costs is difficult to estimate as are operational costs of systems of vastly differing scale.  What needs to be proven is the scalability. Will a system with thousands of vehicles and hundreds of stations be able to operate robustly at high capacities for extended periods of time? People have successfully simulated such operations but this is insufficient. What about the effects of distance on communications, inefficiencies in sensors, unforeseen passenger behaviors, etc.? What is needed is a full scale demonstration system purpose-built to facilitate extensive investigations and hardware-in-the-loop simulations.
While we work towards getting such a demonstration system funded (hopefully by inter-governmental cooperation), I suggest that cities wanting to build a small starter system, that can later be expanded throughout the city, consider this:- People hate transit transfers mainly because of the uncertain wait times involved. However, transferring between PRT systems should only involve a cross-platform walk and a wait of less than one minute. Build your starter system with the best PRT system available today. Don’t worry about its scalability (as long as the starter system is justified on its own). If it later proves not to be up to the city-wide task, do that with a different system – the transfer between the two should be seamless. In this way you can dream big but start small.

PRT suppliers like to walk before they try to run. It only makes sense for them to start with small systems and gradually tackle larger and more ambitious projects. Potential customers are also cautious. Why should they take on a project much larger and more complex than anyone has done before? The only reason would be if there was no other solution and usually there is, even if much more expensive and less effective. Thus the growth in size and complexity of PRT projects is likely to be slow.

If PRT has the potential to help solve urban congestion, mobility and accessibility problems, slow growth is not acceptable. Using characteristics we believe to be safety certified by Vectus – a 6-passenger vehicle operating at 40 mph and a four second headway (time between vehicles) – simple analysis shows a capability exceeding that required for the Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport and the proposed Red Line extension in Chicago for substantially less cost and with a higher level of service. Consideration of the situations in cities like Mexico City, Mexico and Kampala, Uganda, both ranked among the most congested in the world, quickly shows that a cost-effective elevated solution could substantially reduce congestion and relieve its stranglehold on public wellbeing. The worldwide economic and health benefits of congestion relief in numerous cities are just too great for us to sit around and wait for PRT to slowly emerge.

Mexico City Congestion

Mexico City Congestion

Kampala City Congestion

Kampala City Congestion

My big dream is widespread urban PRT networks operating at average speeds between 30 and 40 mph and supplementing other forms of transportation. I believe such systems could very effectively reduce congestion and improve mobility, accessibility, safety and energy use. What will it take to realize such a dream?

I believe that the first and most important steps are to determine if PRT is up to the task. I think we are well on the way to knowing what the costs are – although the progression from custom to mass production vehicle costs is difficult to estimate as are operational costs of systems of vastly differing scale.  What needs to be proven is the scalability. Will a system with thousands of vehicles and hundreds of stations be able to operate robustly at high capacities for extended periods of time? People have successfully simulated such operations but this is insufficient. What about the effects of distance on communications, inefficiencies in sensors, unforeseen passenger behaviors, etc.? What is needed is a full scale demonstration system purpose-built to facilitate extensive investigations and hardware-in-the-loop simulations.

While we work towards getting such a demonstration system funded (hopefully by inter-governmental cooperation), I suggest that cities wanting to build a small starter system, that can later be expanded throughout the city, consider this:- People hate transit transfers mainly because of the uncertain wait times involved. However, transferring between PRT systems should only involve a cross-platform walk and a wait of less than one minute. Build your starter system with the best PRT system available today. Don’t worry about its scalability (as long as the starter system is justified on its own). If it later proves not to be up to the city-wide task, do that with a different system – the transfer between the two should be seamless. In this way you can dream big but start small.

Travel Preference Survey Results

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Thanks to the 112 people who responded to our Travel Preference Survey, we now have some interesting results to share. After eliminating incomplete returns and returns from those working at home, or already using transit regularly, we ended up with exactly 100 respondents who could change to transit for their home-to-work trips. Of these, thirteen said they would never switch since transit could not meet their needs.

The average trip distance was 16.6 miles and the average trip time was 34.7 minutes. This yields an average speed of 28.7 mph.

The survey was conducted on the Web and available in English around the world.

Breakdown of Respondents by Region

Breakdown of Respondents by Region

86% of all respondents use the car as their primary mode for work trips.

Mode Used for Most of the Work Trip

Mode Used for Most of the Work Trip

Less than half would wait more than 5 minutes for transit.

Longest Acceptable Wait Time

Longest Acceptable Wait Time

Only about one quarter would be willing to use transit if it involved more than one transfer and about one quarter would not tolerate any transfers.

Highest Acceptable Number of Transfers

Highest Acceptable Number of Transfers

More than half would accept a maximum door-to-door trip time of 45 minutes. A 45 minute trip for the average 16.6 mile journey yields a speed of  22.1 mph.

Maximum Acceptable Door-to-Door Trip Time

Maximum Acceptable Door-to-Door Trip Time

Only about one third of respondents were willing to walk more than 5 minutes (1/4 mile) to a transit stop.

Longest Acceptable Walking Time

Longest Acceptable Walking Time

Over one half would be willing to wait 15 minutes extra a week due to unreliability of transit.

Extra Time

Longest Extra Wait Time Due to Unreliability

More than half indicated they would pay the same for transit as the cost to go by car, or between the cost by car or bus.

Acceptable Transit Cost in Comparison With Other Modes

Acceptable Transit Cost in Comparison With Other Modes

57% said they would need a guaranteed seat in order to switch to transit and 32% wanted an exclusive vehicle for use by them and their associates.

While the survey population was small and potentially biased, the results are interesting and seem to point to the following conclusions:

  • PRT does not need to be high speed
  • PRT costs between that of a car and a bus should be acceptable
  • Wait times should be under 5 minutes
  • Transfers should be avoided but one may be acceptable
  • Walking times should be under 5 minutes (1/4 mile)

If the above criteria are met, it appears personal rapid transit would entice a significant number to begin using transit for their work trips.

Travel Preference Survey

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Just a few minutes will help you understand your transit needs and preferences and help us in the fight against congestion, depletion of fossil fuel and climate change.

Please take this survey

The results will be posted here in about a month

New Vectus Personal Rapid Transit and Group Rapid Transit Vehicles

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
This month’s news had numerous articles about Pininfarina’s London debut of their Vectus PRT vehicle design. Besides the sleek look, the addition of a GRT vehicle is worthy of note.
Vectus PRT Vehicle
Our understanding is that GRT vehicles of varying size can be formed more or less by coupling different numbers PRT vehicles together. Since the clearance envelope and door spacing both fit the PRT guideway dimensions and station door spacing, the larger vehicles can use the PRT infrastructure with no changes. Large and small vehicles can thus be intermingled and a large network could potentially have GRT vehicles serving peak travel between high-demand station pairs while PRT vehicles serve all stations at all times.
Vectus GRT Vehicle
Since the worst case static load on a guideway is when numerous PRT vehicles are stopped bumper to bumper, this load would not change with GRT vehicles essentially comprised of linked PRT vehicles. However there would be added dynamic loading with GRT vehicles operating at speed. In addition, the effect of standees in the GRT vehicles would add to both the static and the dynamic loading. Thus some increased guideway costs are to be anticipated.
1:18 PRT Vehicle Scale Model
Many potential clients have great difficulty understanding (and believing in) the capacity possible with small vehicles operating at short headways. Most are quickly satisfied when learning that larger vehicles can be added to the mix if necessary. Note that conventional PRT vehicles can achieve capacity gains without reducing headways by platooning two or three vehicles physically or electronically together.
Alleviating capacity concerns is a very important step in getting PRT accepted.
This month’s news had numerous articles about Pininfarina’s London debut of their Vectus personal rapid transit (PRT) vehicle design. Besides the sleek look, the addition of a group rapid transit (GRT) vehicle is worthy of note.
Vectus PRT Vehicle

Vectus PRT Vehicle

Our understanding is that GRT vehicles of varying size can be formed more or less by coupling different numbers PRT vehicles together. Since the clearance envelope and door spacing both fit the PRT guideway dimensions and station door spacing, the larger vehicles can use the PRT infrastructure with no changes. Large and small vehicles can thus be intermingled and a large network could potentially have GRT vehicles serving peak travel between high-demand station pairs while PRT vehicles serve all stations at all times.

Vectus GRT Vehicle

Vectus GRT Vehicle

Since the worst case static load on a guideway is when numerous PRT vehicles are stopped bumper to bumper, this load would not change with GRT vehicles essentially comprised of linked PRT vehicles. However there would be added dynamic loading with GRT vehicles operating at speed. In addition, the effect of standees in the GRT vehicles would add to both the static and the dynamic loading. Thus some increased guideway costs are to be anticipated.

1:18 PRT Vehicle Scale Model

1:18 PRT Vehicle Scale Model

Many potential clients have great difficulty understanding (and believing in) the capacity possible with small vehicles operating at short headways. Most are quickly satisfied when learning that larger vehicles can be added to the mix if necessary. Note that conventional PRT vehicles can achieve capacity gains without reducing headways by platooning two or three vehicles physically or electronically together.
Alleviating capacity concerns is a very important step in getting PRT accepted.

Personal Rapid Transit News (June 2012)

Monday, June 4th, 2012

This page provides breaking news related to automated transit networks (ATN – an umbrella term for PRT and GRT systems, also known as podcars) along with links where available.

news_vectus4Driverless Transport Pods Finally Starting to Catch On

The age of Personal Rapid Transit has gotten off to an uneven start. There was quite a bit of excitement that PRTs—small, driverless pods that take passengers directly to their destination without stops—would be the dominant mode of transportation in the United Arab Emirates’ futuristic Masdar City… Read more…

news_futureFuture Transit- This time it’s personal.

…What would it take to get the really die hard folks to try a new mode of travel? The trip to work  is “private time” for many- The personal auto commute is considered a needed break between the responsibilities of home life and pressures at work.  Read more…

news_riverside

Riverside Link: Personal Rapid Transit


Imperial College London YR3 Group Design Project. Group 11 Presentation Video. Made by Xiaojie Wang. Link to Youtube Video

news_vectus3An innovative service on demand

The Pininfarina in London exhibition marks the world debut of the innovative system of urban public transport Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) developed in collaboration with Vectus, Korean company, leader in urban mobility solutions. Read more…

news_2getValidation of our views on Masdar PRT plan error

The backpedaling typical of massive capital projects continues. A recent Fast Company state-of-the-effort article on Masdar City includes these conclusions by project managing director Dr. Sultan Al Jaber about the city’s 12-pod Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), scaled back from a huge citywide pod fleet. Read more…

news_ruddleInvesting in Future Transport

Investing in Future Transport is a high level conference which takes place on 16 August at City Hall, London. The conference will showcase innovation in transport and highlight investment opportunities in the sector.Adam Ruddle, Ultra PRT will speak. Read more…


news_podcar6Podcar City Berlin. Strengthening the Investment. September 18-21 2012

Come join world leaders in the emerging field of transit so advanced that it constitutes a new mode and offers very useful new tools to de-congest our communities and coax them to more sustainable urban life. Learn of rigorous podcar studies – analysis, engineering, visualization, financing — in Sweden, India and the USA. Read more…

news_rideshareRidesharing Methodology for Increasing Personal Rapid Transit Capacity

…This paper presents a ride sharing methodology that is applicable to any PRT system with more than about ten stations. The methodology is simple to implement and has sufficient flexibility to accommodate changing demand in each station… Read more…

news_vectus2On-Demand Subway Car Takes Riders to Their Destination Without Stops

The Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system from Pininfarina Extra features lightweight electric vehicles, similar to subway cars, designed for South Korean transportation company Vectus. Users ‘call’ for them like a taxi if they aren’t already at the station and tell them where they want to go. Read more…

news_transette

Final Report. Verification Testing Of The Transette Personal Rapid Transit System. 1977

The Transette System for personal transit  service is intended to fulfill the need for a system that can furnish effective, low-cost  transportation of people over moderate distances in high pedestrian  traffic areas. Read more…

news_vectusvidThe Vectus Personal Rapid Transit System: A Pininfarina-Designed Metro-on-Demand. And It’s Real.

But what’s got us most intrigued is the PRT, or Personal Rapid Transit, vehicle shown above, which will also be on display (in model form). Designed as an update to an existing pod car for Vectus, a South Korean transportation company, the PRT is something like a subway car on-demand. Read more…

news_vectusgrtPininfarina and Vectus present PRT & GRT vehicles

The Pininfarina in London exhibition marks the world debut of the innovative system of urban public transport Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)  developed in collaboration with Vectus, Korean company, leader in urban mobility solutions. Read more…

news_2getUrban tech: From Masdar to Main Street?

Residents of Masdar City in the Middle East have smart appliances, use electricity from a solar power plant and get around by robotaxi. When will you do the same? Read more…

news_adbWorld’s Largest Development Banks pledge $175 Billion for the Creation of More Sustainable Transport

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (20 June, 2012)—The eight largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) announced today that they will invest US$175 billion to finance more sustainable transportation systems over the coming decade, boosting equitable economic development and protecting the environment and public health across the developing world. Read more…

news_vectus newPininfarina in London (new Vectus vehicle picture)

Pininfarina in London also marks the world debut of the Personal Rapid Transit, developed in collaboration with Vectus. Vectus concept is based on a system of small, light and driverless vehicles, efficiently navigating on a network of interconnecting tracks. Read more…

news_innovationInnovation in Great Britain

ULTra PRT (originally Advanced Transport Systems Ltd) began developing the system in 1995, in association with the University of Bristol. The ULTra system emerged from systematic engineering analysis as the optimum solution to urban transport problems. Read more (and vote) …

Pininfarina exhibition at London 2012 announced – transit concept debut
Read more: http://www.worldcarfans.com/112061845439/pininfarina-exhibition-at-london-2012-announced—transit#ixzz1yBWLVDz3
Pininfarina exhibition at London 2012 announced – transit concept debut
One of the highlights of the exhibition is the world debut of the urban public transport Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system developed in collaboration with Korean firm, Vectus, who specializes in urban mobility solutions. The PRT concept is based on a system of small, light and driverless vehicles, which navigate on a network of interconnecting tracks. Read more…
news_lhrpodHeathrow pods are an idea for the future

All in all, it is an impressive scheme and perhaps surprising that this British invention has not received more publicity and support.  Lowson, a former rocket scientist who was at NASA for the Apollo programme, has worked on the concept since the mid 1990s and much of the technology was developed at the University of Bristol.  Certainly, it merits wider consideration than it has been given. Read more…

Certification experiences of Ultra and 2getthere

Certification experiences of Ultra PRT and 2getthere PRT vendors, as part of the Heathrow Airport and Masdar Eco-City applications – plus some basic guidance from the extensive experience and practice of Jeff Davis. Read more…

news_skytran

Personal Rapid Transit

Ladies and Gentlemen, my idea is something a little more unconventional than different types of buses/streetcars. They are known as Personal Rapid Transits (PRTs) and I think they would fit Omaha more than other cities. Read more…

news_vectusCar + Transit – Transfer/Waiting Time = Integrated Personal Rapid Transit System

…Personal Rapid Transit (PRT): The way to solve problem is to attract car user to public transport, by fulfilling their demand for high flexibility and comfort. Read more…