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PRT Circulator Transit: "Brilliant Fun," Saves Climate

February 21, 2010

PRT (personal rapid transit) is an electric, 200-mpg-equivalent, elevated transit system with many four-person vehicles. 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, commuter rail, bus, and bike more effective, by solving the "last mile problem."

Highlights:

  • BBC: World's first PRT passenger: "Something from a James Bond movie. A serious bit of kit. It's so Star Trek. Incredibly quiet, smooth. Not quite normal. Brilliant fun."
  • Minnesota: "We need to explore innovative strategies that are efficient and cost-effective and can improve motorists' commutes. We owe it to the citizens of our state to keep on the leading edge of technology and present these options to them."
  • San Jose: "San Jose, as the Capital of Silicon Valley, is stepping into a leadership role to help further the development of innovative transit technologies that have the potential to reshape how we move in the future and organize our cities in a more sustainable and livable way."
  • Times of London: "One of 20 proven ways to save the earth."
  • UK Sustainable Development Commission: "The ultimate in changing travel behavior."
  • Architecture: PRT fosters invention and innovation. PRT's svelte, elevated form enables low-impact threading through a 420-year-old city where other modes cannot pass. SketchUp 3D PRT models available to anyone with talent/creativity.
  • First youtube look at 2gethere PRT running at Masdar Ecocity
  • 17 vehicles at London Heathrow ULTra PRT
  • Vectus PRT's Suncheon (S. Korea) MOU.
  • Harvard Biz School case study: "PRT creates huge value: reducing automobile congestion, and getting passengers to their desired destinations more quickly and more reliably."

 

DETAILS:

1. BBC's very popular Inside Out program covered the ULTra London Heathrow system, with reporter Josie d'Arby serving as the first member of the public to take a ride. "Something from a James Bond movie. A serious bit of kit. It's so Star Trek. Incredibly quiet, smooth. Not quite normal. It's weird, completely weird. Brilliant fun." Featured in the segment are ATS Founder Martin Lowson, ATS CEO Phil Smith, BAA PRT Manager David Holdcroft ("Very green. Really good passenger service. Fun."), and ATS Vehicle Manager Adam Ruddle. Available are: BBC's news story and program transcript and stills. BBC's video material is unfortunately not viewable within the US. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8377030.stm, http://www.ultraprt.net/cms/index.php?page=bbc-brilliant-fun

2. Minnesota's DOT launched a significant PRT effort. MN Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel: "PRT systems are being developed around the world. We need to explore innovative strategies that are efficient and cost-effective and can improve motorists' commutes. We owe it to the citizens of our state to keep on the leading edge of technology and present these options to them." Sorel said he's had many discussions about PRT with Governor Tim Pawlenty, who he said supports exploring PRT. PRT system concept sketches are provided for Edina, St. Paul, and Rochester. http://www.ultraprt.net/mn.htm

3. Not to be outdone, San Jose trumpeted US PRT leadership. Hans Larsen, Acting Director, San Jose DOT on PRT: "San Jose, as the Capital of Silicon Valley, is stepping into a leadership role to help further the development of innovative transit technologies that have the potential to reshape how we move in the future and organize our cities in a more sustainable and livable way. Silicon Valley is the innovation center of the world and it would be a natural fit for Silicon Valley to be the epicenter for developing new, modern transit technology. Constructing a PRT system would advance a number of the City's high-priority goals, including advancing San Jose's Green Vision goals supporting technological innovation, and improving the effectiveness of the City's existing transit network."
http://gas2.org/2009/12/09/san-jose-to-participate-in-sustainable-transportation-conference-in-sweden/

4. Times of London lists PRT as one of 20 climate-saving solutions in their Sunday feature article entitled "20 proven ways to save the earth." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6931775.ece

5. The UK Sustainable Development Commission concluded that PRT is "the ultimate in changing vehicle behavior," as published in the report entitled: "Smarter Moves: How Information Communications Technology can promote Sustainable Mobility." http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications.php?id=1050

6. Architectural Innovations. PRT has created a brand new architectural arena of invention and innovation. ATS ULTra's recent Bath Design Competition explored theoretical options for placing PRT within a historically sensitive city founded in 1590. PRT's svelte, elevated form enables low-impact threading where other modes cannot pass. PRT guideway can be easily tailored to blend in with the most architecturally challenging backdrops. As evidenced by the many submissions, architects enjoy working with PRT. Many of the submissions presented first-of-its-kind concepts. http://www.ultraprt.net/cms/index.php?page=architecture-innovations

Google SketchUp 3D ULTra PRT models are available. Models for guideway, stations, and vehicles are available for download with specifications, design guidelines, and instructions. Sample customizations are suggested. SketchUp was designed to be very easy to use. http://www.ultraprt.net/cms/index.php?page=sketchup-3d-models

7. First youtube look at 2gethere PRT running at Masdar Ecocity. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDzq-lqe8_c

8. Vectus PRT's Suncheon (South Korea) MOU for a first system. PDF: http://tinyurl.com/y959sux

9. 17 vehicles at London Heathrow ULTra PRT. As of Feb 16, there were 17 vehicles at the London Heathrow ULTra site. A youtube video shows six vehicles participating in a test traveling between the three Heathrow stations. All system components (including automatic berth doors, vehicle charging, and passenger destination selection kiosks) are fully operational. "In 2010 we will progress through a comprehensive series of confidence-building passenger trials, as we move towards the commencement of public operations in the first half of the year" - Phil Smith, ATS ULTra CEO. http://www.atsltd.co.uk/news/55/85/Multi-Vehicle-Testing-at-Heathrow/

New Heathrow pictures show Terminal 5 station details, Business Car Park station details, destination selection kiosks, the vehicle maintenance/storage depot, control room operation, and control room CCTV. http://www.ultraprt.net/cms/LHRimagesFeb10.htm

10. Harvard Business School Professor Benjamin Edelman recently published a case study on PRT: "Business and communities small and large are increasingly aware of PRT as a ‘green' solution to multiple transportation problems from (in)convenience to price to congestion. I'm convinced that PRT creates huge value-reducing automobile congestion, and getting passengers to their desired destinations more quickly and more reliably. I'm particularly struck by the use of PRT to increase the value of land that might otherwise be viewed as undesirable. Consider a parcel that's a bit beyond walking distance from the subway, restaurants, and the like. Right now, a developer must accept a dramatically reduced price for that kind of land. But PRT could connect outlying buildings directly to a subway platform and a restaurant district." http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6333.html