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Calgary Sketch

First sketch: June 2010 as part of a visit / presentation at the Air & Waste Management Association annual conference in Calgary.

PRT sketches for U of C, downtown circulator, and Canada Olympic Park. For consideration: a) as an option for Plan It Calgary long-range transportation planning and b) for the imagineCALGARY long range sustainability plan.

PRT is an electric, 200-mpg-equivalent, elevated transit system with many four-person vehicles. There are now three PRT customers: BAA (British Airports Authority) for the ULTra system, Masdar Ecocity (Abu Dhabi, UAE) for the 2getthere system, and Suncheon (South Korea) for the Vectus system. First revenue service of the ULTra system is scheduled for London Heathrow Airport starting this summer, to serve Heathrow's new Terminal 5. Working as circulator transit for office parks, airports, universities, entertainment centers, and other major activity centers, PRT is faster than a car. In these applications, PRT makes carpooling, light rail, and bus more effective, by solving the "last mile problem." PRT also enables longer bike commutes and shopping trips. A three-minute youtube video of ULTra can be viewed here: http://www.ultraprt.net/cms/. The latest PRT cost information is $7M to $15M per mile, and may be found at: http://www.ultraprt.net/cms/index.php?page=cost-per-mile-7m---15m

1. U of C PRT

One small PRT system might focus on University of Calgary, serving:
• The University
• Two C-Train LRT stops: University, Banff Trail
• Health Science Center
• University hotel cluster (Best Western, Econo Lodge, Super 8, Hampton Inn)
• Sports venues

A PRT "last-mile" system for this area should attract 10,000+ additional LRT trips per day. Such a system could be readily extended to connect to Brentwood C-Train, Research Road NW, Market Mall, Alberta Children's Hospital (2888 Shaganappi Trail NW, west of U of C), and Medical/Senior uses by Bowness Road NW.

Comments:

  • In the 1980's planning for C Train LRT, U of C considered placing the C Train station in the middle of campus. As this did not happen, there is a stronger argument for the need for a PRT last mile solution.
  • Employee parking at Foothills Hospital costs approximately $90 per month. This is a small fraction of the $20 per day downtown Calgary parking pricing, but still serves as a significant cost factor for solo driving commuting.
  • "There is a slowly growing realization that a circulator would be helpful for both medical and university connections to C Train."
  • "My parents both work at the Health Sciences Centre, and they do indeed complain that it's hard to get there on public transport."
  • C Train park and ride lots have been created, primarily at the outer edges of the system, with $3 per day parking charges. There are also 950 parking spaces at the Brentwood C Train station.

 

The approximate system sketch below encompasses 17 stations, 8.4 km (5.2 miles) of one-way guideway, with an estimated capital cost range of 58M to 78M USD/CAD.

Wider view of the U of C PRT concept, shown below with satellite imagery:

Right click on the image and "open image in a new tab" to enlarge the sketch. A 200 meter station walking radius is shown.

 

2. Calgary Downtown PRT Circulator

Another possible PRT system could connect downtown LRT to destinations north and south of LRT, possibly along 3rd Ave and 12th Ave. 7 km (4.2 mi) one-way guideway, capital cost less than $60M USD/CAD. A 300 meter walking radius is shown in the first cut approximation below:

 

Calgary's downtown holds 40 to 50% of Calgary jobs. Downtown is dense with 20 and 30-story buildings:

Bing birdseye view of downtown Calgary, looking west

Comments

  • The high job density is helpful for a PRT circulator
  • For a PRT downtown circulator, a travel demand forecast must show that walking will not be reduced. There are many folks who walk 10 to 20 blocks to jobs in downtown.
  • Short commutes coming from south of downtown would benefit greatly from using PRT to cross the railroad tracks below 9th Avenue. Some pedestrian underpasses assist these pedestrian commutes, but the tunnels aren't very fun. South of downtown features significant housing, so stations S9, S8, S7, and S6 are well-placed. In addition, an extension of the system to serve the 17th Avenue mixed-use "red mile" in the future might be warranted.
  • Given that parking costs upwards of $20 per day in downtown, it is expected that PRT fare structure should yield significant annual farebox revenue.
  • The Eau Claire area of northern downtown will see new entertainment, retail, and residential, hence staitons S2 and S3 are well-placed.
  • A new pedestrian bridge to cross the river near 7th St. SW is planned. Station S1 is very well-placed for this new bridge.
  • The extensive "Plus 15" skywalk system downtown presents easy and "fun" design challenges for PRT guideway to hop over or slip under. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%2B15).
  • Underground LRT may be coming to Stephen Ave / 8th Ave SW.

 

For PRT running near Chinatown (Centre St & 4th Ave), such as by Dragon City Mall, it is interesting to consider applying "skins" and finishes to the PRT guideway so that the guideway will blend with traditional Chinese architecture (red columns, gold accents). Dragon City Mall detailing is shown here:

 

 

3. Canada Olympic Park (COP) PRT

A third option for consideration would be PRT to serve the 600-acre COP master planning area. Below is the long-range land use expansion plan proposal:

From: http://www.calgary.ca/docgallery/bu/planning/pdf/canada_olympic_park/canada_olympic_park_asp_one.pdf

Below is a 13 station, 8.4km (5.0 mi) PRT sketch, with estimated capital cost range of $50M to $75M USD/CAD:

Comments:

  • The long range land use expansion plan has been stalled, because of TIA (Transportation Impact Analysis) showing that better transportation is required. PRT could play a large role in easing approvals by providing great transportation. PRT should connect to bus & BRT on the Trans Canada Highway, Old Banff Coach Road, etc.
  • PRT would be funded by the granting of density bonuses to the development.
  • The Cougar Ridge Neighborhood would benefit greatly if PRT was extended into the neighborhood (shown with 3 stations, Coug1-3, in the sketch above), obtaining increased property values; faster-than-a-car access to COP jobs, recreation, and shopping; quick access to bus and BRT stops.

 

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