Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A sound transit idea

I'm quite intrigued by a new form of public transit being developed / lobbied for in many parts of the world - PRT or Public Rapid Transit. What's new here is that you don't wait for the transit, the transit waits for you. PRT moves you in pods big enough for 4 people on tracks or guideways at speeds of 40-60km/h (25-35mph). The fare structure is based on distance travelled, which can be shared with riders in the same pod. The infrastructure is designed with elevated routes, allows for more stations (because they use up less space), stations are off of the main lines - which means every trip has no stops en route. The system is billed as being more efficient, easier to build, capable of running 24/7.... the list goes on.

I was astounded at the number of sites dedicated to this new concept. Here is a good all-around site in Edmonton Alberta; the Wikipedia entry; UltraPRT - makers of one design; a European site showing plans for possible PRT systems in European cities. Heathrow airport is building a PRT system to shuttle folks from the newest terminal to the various car parks. If you only have time to choose one link, choose the one using the picture - it has the most overall information.


A Transportation Enthusiast said...

Here's more links:

Innovative Transit Technologies - Professor Jerry Schneider of UW has maintained this comprehensive list of transportation technology documents and links for more than a decade. A substantial portion of it is PRT, and is probably the best overall resource for PRT info on the web.
Get On Board - a well organized and up-to-date PRT information page.
Get There Fast - another PRT info page by Seattle-based SoundPRT.

There are many others, but these are the most comprehensive.

There is a lot of momentum in PRT development these days - but unfortunately, almost none of it is in North America. Europe has active projects in the UK, Sweden and Poland; in the middle east there is the UAE's car-free Masdar City initiative, which is perhaps one of the most ambitious projects in human history, and it will be nearly 100% PRT; in Asia, Korean steel giant POSCO is the parent company of Vectus PRT, which has a fully functonal test track in Sweden.

But here in North America, traditional transit is politically entrenched, and if you suggest anything other than a bus or streetcar you will be branded a crackpot.

Karl Plesz said...

Most excellent! Thank you. said...

PRT Strategies works on southern California applications:

Karl Plesz said...

This is awesome.