RALNATIVE

PRT Futuristic Transit

21 posts in this topic


My "educated" opinion:

  • it looks stupid
  • It will be hot as hell in the summer sun
  • According to the article its slow
  • Does it have the capacity to enable TOD?
  • One person per "pod"? I think single person occupancy will result in them just becoming urinals.

 

More significantly, the great benefit of transit is that it funnels people together into density which facilitates information exchange (and innovation). The PRT paradigm just enables "transit oriented sprawl" IMO.

 

Why no discussion of the Morgantown WV people mover? I believe that system is very similar to this.

 

EDIT: apologies for my apparent crankiness

Edited by kermit

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I am similarly skeptical. I am concerned that after the initial capital expenditures, NCSU students will have to pay for the cost of upkeep for a system that might not get used. That said, as Centennial campus grows, there will be increasing demand for better connectivity between the campuses, and this may still be better than nothing. Seems like economically it could be viable. At the same-same time, it could be a bandaid that gets in the way of real transit improvements like a proper rail link between the campuses--which would surely be more economically viable to maintain once built, even if the initial expenditure may be far higher. At the same-same-same time, even if it were a failure, even if it became a campus joke, it's kind of quirky and I could see it being loved and adding character to the university even if it ended up not being as practical.

 

Interesting that such a system was implemented in Morganton WV. NCSU itself has a higher population than Morganton. Why not use larger cars though like their system? Something like a capacity of 6. Single occupant just seems rather... lonely. It's the kind of carriage that would be designed by someone with a big ego--apparently too big to sit with anyone else.

 

I don't know. I have mixed feelings about it. Pretty neutral actually.

Edited by Spatula

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The cars are double occupancy if that changes anything.

 

I think they should stick to just the link between NCSU campuses.  I think its pretty amazing that that can be done for only $2 million.

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I could also it see it taking the place of something like say, the R-Line....with better routing of course. Long distance intra city travel, less so. 

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I have to say that 2 million seems to  be absolutely ridiculously optimistic, especially if they want to do this in any reasonable time frame.  This sort of thing seems to be a real-time, life critical system so it needs seriously industrial grade software. 2 million won't even cover the cost of that, much less development of the rest of the systems such as track, stations, and vehicles, controls, etc. unless it's going to be entirely developed by slaves (aka grad students), Much less the cost of buying the raw materials, getting PEs to sign off on the design, paying construction workers to build it, and so on.

 

I will not pay one more ounce of attention to this until they propose a realistic budget.

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Just an engineering project with no real working model is even close to development. I think I did read somewhere that some business group was supporting this as the mass transit solution in Raleigh, which just shows you where their heads are.

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PRT has been and always be a gimic and has never been shown to be a viable alternative to mass transit.

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Two seats per vehicle - how on earth could that ever have the capacity to handle all the people who need to move between Centennial and Main Campus?

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Two seats per vehicle - how on earth could that ever have the capacity to handle all the people who need to move between Centennial and Main Campus?

 

True, at a very minimum, they should widen the cars for 4 person capacity, 2 on each bench.  At a minimum!  But sounds like they have a lot of other challenges to solve - this is a long ways from really happening.

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Reminds me of a people mover demo when I was at Georgia Tech in the 70s and 80s. Utterly useless because it was so slow.

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This sounds like a prototype that they are working on, and as with other prototypes, hopefully they will incorporate feedback from potential riders into the overall design.

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True, at a very minimum, they should widen the cars for 4 person capacity, 2 on each bench.  At a minimum!  But sounds like they have a lot of other challenges to solve - this is a long ways from really happening.

A 4-person car would be better, I agree. A 4-person car would probably be about the right size to fit a wheel chair.But then widening the vehicles means widening the guideway which both adds cost and could necessitate a structural redesign.

But that would definitely seem to be an improvement over 2 per car. You would need maybe 40 of these cars to equal the full capacity (standing room only) of a single Wolfline bus. Not to mention this system forces the awkward situation of riding face to face and bumping knees with a complete stranger. Do you ride alone if you're not traveling with somebody? This halves the capacity of the system. Do you put on your earphones and avoid eye contact, pretending the other person isn't there? Do you try to strike up a conversation? Do you just uncomfortably fidget?

Four per vehicle would be moderately less awkward in that respect, but has the potential for greater "wasted" capacity.

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Despite my username, I don't have anything to do with this project, but I have read up on this a bit.  I think some of the the skepticism here is not well founded. 

 

I think comparing the technology today to the 70's/80's is a little harsh.  I can't imagine having self driving cars with 80's tech, but we are almost there today.  It seems that is a lot of the same technology is in this.  I think the Morgantown WV pretty much only goes from point to point on its guideway.  Not particularly helpful...

 

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/10020/morgantowns-prt-isnt/ 

 

I don't think it is far fetched at all to imagine ordering up one of these cars with a source point and a destination point with your smart phone.  We do it today with Uber.  With self driving cars you don't really even need the fixed guideways, but it helps with getting above the fray of traffic which can really add to trip time.  Even if it just avoids mundane stoplights and bus stops it would save a ton of time going between the two campuses.

 

I guess my main point is that I think the tech needed to do this successfully is here, where it really has not been in the past.  It does not have to even go that fast to be equivalent to a different mode of public transportation if it can avoid stops and the initial wait to get on.  The capicity concern compared to a bus is a valid concern, but if you can get 40 cars in and out in the same time as a wait between busses for a particular stop (usually 15 or 30 minutes), it is again equivalent if not better.  The system is designed for a ton of these cars, all active at once.  They are cheap compared to buses.  One could probably buy 20 of the two passenger ones for the same cost as a standard diesel bus. 

 

I do wonder what the sweet spot is as far as passenger capacity is like yourselves.  I also have the same concerns about college students turning them into urinals.  I guess we'll see if they can engineer a usable solution.

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Is 20 Of these cars costing the same as 1 bus really increasing capacity? Speed? Efficiency such as maintainence, etc?

I'm very skeptical and I don't like the idea. Id like it if the vehicles had larger capacities and was mass transit. A people mover or a monorail. But on the bright side, maybe this invention will lead to improved technology for Light rail, self driving cars, etc

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As a regular pedestrian in the area, anything that reduces the chances I get run over, is at least worth thinking about. Perhaps some of the proposed design will show up via scientific method (ridership projections, speed of service calcs etc) and we'll end up with some sweet little 8 person bus-pods that can only be accessed by student ID or a purchased token (for non students) and integrate with other transit transfer points such as the TTA express stop on Hillsborough...

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Another problem with the ill-fated Georgia Tech people mover, which also used small pods, was that many female students refused to get into a pod with males whom they didn't know. Who could blame them? But the people mover was oriented to serve a new cluster of dormitories that were predominantly female. This was a natural mistake for an all-male university administration to make.

 

TImes have indeed changed and technology is better -- but I think women have the same valid concerns, especially if the people mover system would be elevated with no opportunity for easy egress. 

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Another problem with the ill-fated Georgia Tech people mover, which also used small pods, was that many female students refused to get into a pod with males whom they didn't know. Who could blame them? But the people mover was oriented to serve a new cluster of dormitories that were predominantly female. This was a natural mistake for an all-male university administration to make.

 

TImes have indeed changed and technology is better -- but I think women have the same valid concerns, especially if the people mover system would be elevated with no opportunity for easy egress. 

 

Admittedly I had not thought of that either.  On the other hand, I would think that is where the lower capacity would help (obviously it hurts in many other areas).  Since your start and destination are custom with no stops in between, I would never expect to need to share a car with anyone you did not know.

 

I saw a photo of the Georgia tech people mover car here:  https://brookhavenbear.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/atlanta-transportation-people-movers/  Frankly its hilarious looking.  Looks like it was driven by a belt in a loop system (not a personalized journey whatsoever).

 

 

 

The Proposed NC State PRT has a few simulations on youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-c8jFI9kDbaK_SNmYX_jNw

 

I have no idea if the final product would look anything like it, but it gives you an idea of the swarming nature of the system.

 

I am also clueless about the maintenance costs, or if it was on par with other transit systems.  So I guess one will have to wait and see the estimates.  Luckily since the prototype cars are fairly inexpensive, one should be able to generate a fairly accurate representation from testing.

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Considering the walkability of NCSU's campuses, seems to me like you really only need 2 lines--one covering the length of main campus with four-ish stops on it (Wolf Village, West Campus, Central Campus, East Campus), and one connecting the central main campus down to Centennial with three-ish stops-the third being Avant Ferry. For those it'd be best to have large cars, with bus-like capacity, running on an automated schedule, on elevated tracks above the traffic. How much more expensive would that really be? You could still make it fairly lightweight and compact. By eliminating and minimizing turns, you make it possible to make the cars longer on the same minimalist tracks.

 

Surely it would be much cheaper to maintain that once it's built than a system with much more specific destinations and hundreds of cars (which are nearly always half empty, instead of a handful of larger cars that are only 30% empty).

Edited by Spatula

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