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Which cities would benefit most from PRT?

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Personal Rapid Transit promises to provide more efficient public transit for passengers. A PRT system would have grade-separated guideways carrying small computer controlled 3-4 passenger vehicles. Vehicles would usually be waiting at the stations and would take the passenger(s) directly to their destination station. Estimates put systems costs much lower than light rail or monorail systems.

I believe a PRT system would be beneficial in any city to reduce automobile traffic and provide better service than trains or buses. PRT may not be a good choice as a regional or city-to-city transit system.

What cities do you think would benefit the most from such a system?

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I'm not sold on the idea, but there is already a small system in operation in Morgantown, WVa. It might work best in small towns/cities such as there were there is a concentrated population of people. In Morgantown's case, it is the University of WVa.

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...there is already a small system in operation in Morgantown, WVa.
The Morgantown system is generally regarded as "Group Rapid Transit", since each vehicle carries up to 21 people. Because of the larger capacity, the vehicles are larger and require stronger, heavier guideways. Larger and heavier means more expensive.

PRT is based around minimization -- small cars that carry one person or a small group to one destination. Small cars are lightweight, and the guideway can be much smaller to support the weight, and therefore, less expensive.

This link has some info about the Morgantown system. It is an example of the success a fully automated transit system can have.

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The reason that I referred to it as such is it is often billed as PRT, mainly because outside of busy hours, one can selected their destination and the car will go directly to the station bypassing others in the process.

The down side to what amounts putting automobiles on a fixed guideway is that it is fairly expensive relative to other forms of transit. That means for low capacity systems it is not cost effective, and it doesn't work for high volumes as there is too much wait time for the individual cars.

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The down side to what amounts putting automobiles on a fixed guideway is that it is fairly expensive relative to other forms of transit. That means for low capacity systems it is not cost effective, and it doesn't work for high volumes as there is too much wait time for the individual cars.
In terms of energy use, PRT is expected to use less energy per passenger mile than other existing forms of transportation. See this link.

Non-stop travel, which PRT is designed to give, contribute to the low energy usage, and benefits the passengers by providing rapid service.

While I agree that PRT doesn't make sense for a low capacity system, most ideas for PRT implementations are where traffic problems already exist or will exist in the near future. Dense areas, eg cities, are the most typical locations.

Most simulations and analysis show that the time to wait for a vehicle during peak usage times is at most a few minutes. This paper discusses one algorithm which could reduce the wait times so that the 99th percentile is about 2.2 minutes and the average wait would be 30 seconds.

During off-peak times, vehicles would usually already be at the stations, and passengers could board immediately.

Compared to "traditional" public transit modes that run on schedules, I think 30-second averages during the peak and no wait during non-peak is quite attractive.

As an automated system, the "human factor" is removed from vehicle control, which would prevent the accidents associated with driving a vehicle. PRT is not just "putting automobiles on a fixed guideway".

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Sounds pretty stupid to me. Is it so awful to have to sit with other people when commuting? How anti-social must we be?

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Sounds pretty stupid to me. Is it so awful to have to sit with other people when commuting? How anti-social must we be?
How often are you travelling from the same place to the same place as other people on the bus or train? The charactistic of people travelling is that usually few people are travelling together, so it's more logical to make transit that caters to individuals or small groups instead of requiring each passenger go where they aren't interested in going (fixed routes) and stop when any other passenger wants to get on or get off.

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I honestly don't think that is the reason why people support PRT. They support it so they can be anti-social. How much freedom does PRT actually entail anyway? And no, I doubt I'm going to the same exact place as anyone else on a bus or train, but that is why we have feet, so we can walk from transit to our destination. Or we can be fat and expect to be dropped off directly at our destination everytime and expend no personal energy.

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I honestly don't think that is the reason why people support PRT. They support it so they can be anti-social.
Surely the people who have put forth so much effort researching and designing PRT have better reasons than being anti-social. More efficient travel in terms of time and energy usage, smaller capital investment than other forms of public transit, safer than automobiles, ...

How much freedom does PRT actually entail anyway? And no, I doubt I'm going to the same exact place as anyone else on a bus or train, but that is why we have feet, so we can walk from transit to our destination. Or we can be fat and expect to be dropped off directly at our destination everytime and expend no personal energy.
So, the amount of time to wait every time you go to the transit stop, waiting while the transit vehicle stops at every other transit stop before you get off, and/or waiting while transferring to other transit routes or walking to your destination isn't important to you? Or other people?

If exercise is a significant reason for people to use the existing transit modes, maybe they would be just as happy with a new transit mode that would save them enough time to allow them to go to the gym or join a sports league, where they could interact with other people.

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The down side to what amounts putting automobiles on a fixed guideway is that it is fairly expensive relative to other forms of transit. That means for low capacity systems it is not cost effective, and it doesn't work for high volumes as there is too much wait time for the individual cars.

I have to agree here. I like the idea for sure, though I don't know how practical it would be in a big, populous city. Probably more practical in small to mid-size cities, or specific districts, perhaps university or employment campuses (like the one for Microsoft that you can see at that website you linked). I don't know that these could ever be deployed on a significant scale.

I honestly don't think that is the reason why people support PRT. They support it so they can be anti-social. How much freedom does PRT actually entail anyway? And no, I doubt I'm going to the same exact place as anyone else on a bus or train, but that is why we have feet, so we can walk from transit to our destination. Or we can be fat and expect to be dropped off directly at our destination everytime and expend no personal energy.

I think it really depends on the circumstances of individuals; it could really save time by bypassing stops that you don't need not to mention give you the luxury of being able to read the paper, do some last minute planning for that meeting you're already late for, stay out of the weather, etc., etc. There would certainly be some value. How about that screaming kid on the train or the bus? Wouldn't it be nice if that family was kind enough to take their own PRT car and spare everyone less the racket?

Support it to be anti-social? Maybe for some, but I think that's stretching it.... I'd love to see PRT on the campus where I work!

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If exercise is a significant reason for people to use the existing transit modes, maybe they would be just as happy with a new transit mode that would save them enough time to allow them to go to the gym or join a sports league, where they could interact with other people.

That's part of my point though, why would we even need to go to a gym if we got our exercise done as part of our daily transportation needs? It's like people who drive to a gym two miles away, and then walk for 2 miles on the treadmill there. What's the point? Now nothing against gyms or anything, theyre great for other forms of exercise, etc. but in some cases its just so stupid what some people do. Anyway, now I'm way off topic.

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I have worked on the official PRT proposals for Dubai, the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, and for Abu Dhabi. None of them have yet come to pass. I would ask all of you this: If an incredibly wealthy city like Dubai - which proposed a PRT system for its Financial District - cannot agree that the system is viable, then what hope is there for any other city in the world?

On the other hand, Abu Dhabi is in direct competition with Dubai to become the premier "International City" in the UAE. If the PRT system proposed for Abu Dhabi gets built, I suspect it will only be because they want to have bragging rights over Dubai. It will have little if nothing to do with financial viability of the system.

I suspect PRT will be - at first - a vanity project that a city can boast about. If that is the case, then maybe PRT could become cost effective as more cities initiate their own systems. But right now, it seems that PRT is a luxury item that most cities can do without.

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why would we even need to go to a gym if we got our exercise done as part of our daily transportation needs?
Sometimes, time or convenience is more important than exercise. Being able to quickly move to another location is important to a lot of people in a lot of different situations. Plus, if the weather is less than perfect, I know that I wouldn't want to stay out in the cold or rain any longer than I need to.

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If an incredibly wealthy city like Dubai - which proposed a PRT system for its Financial District - cannot agree that the system is viable, then what hope is there for any other city in the world?
Many studies have included PRT, and determined that it's the best solution. If the decision makers in Dubai or anywhere can't make decisions about a technology, it is not always because of deficiencies in the techology.

How much longer will major cities be able to "do without" improved forms of transportation that will relieve congestion? 5 years? 10 years? Population in most cities is increasing. I believe PRT has potential to reduce congestion.

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I would fight to my last dying breath to keep PRT away from my home and my office. My home and office are both in historically significant areas of my city and I would not want to see either area marred by any form of fixed elevated transit. If it were even possible from an engineering perspective (which it's not) PRT would ruin my neighbourhood. I don't care how slender the elevated struture is, there need to be support columns to hold it off the ground, there needs to be platforms over the street and/or sidewalk at boarding areas. There needs to be stairs and escalators and elevators to get people from the sidewalks to the platforms... I'd like someone to explain to me where all that infrastructure would go in a city like Providence or Boston. The areas that would be most in need of a transit solution, would be least able to handle an elevated transit system.

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I would not want to see either area marred by any form of fixed elevated transit.

Maybe PRT could be implemented throughout some parts of the city, just like your suggestion to put other elevated transit in those places.

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Maybe PRT could be implemented throughout some parts of the city, just like your suggestion to put other elevated transit in those places.

My suggestion for elevated rail in my metropolitan area, was for a suburban retail strip in Cranston, not Providence. If it ended at the Providence city line, that'd be fine, but then you'd have to transfer to a different mode. Whereas I proposed a streetcar line running through southern Providence, becoming elevated through the suburban strip area in Cranston out to the malls.

I actually could see PRT perhaps working in Warwick. It could run from the Airport, where a new office park/transit village is proposed around a new Commuter Rail/Amtrak station. The PRT line could run from the Airport/Transit Village, to Pastore Center, which is a complex of state offices and to the Rhode Island and Warwick Malls. The Rhode Island Mall is a failed mall which needs to be knocked down and redevloped. Another transit village could be located there. The PRT could linearly connect these several areas. I don't see it being at all feasible for a non linear area like an urban core such as Downtown Providence and it's close in neighbourhoods.

Other areas I would see PRT possibly working is office parks. I used to work in Burlington, MA in a collection of rather pedestrian unfriendly office parks next to a mall and on the edge of Route 128 (Boston's inner ring highway). Commuter Rail along Route 128 could move commuters from the outer suburbs around the ring, and drop people at PRT systems that moved them about the office buildings in various office parks along Route 128.

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:sick: PRT is for quacks. Stop exclusively posting useless PRT propaganda on Urban Planet or you'll be banned. PRT is just another form of private automobile on a fixed guideway system, is ugly, cannot be built on a large scale, is probably only a single lane (how will that work when it becomes so popular that traffic snarls on these fixed guideways), and only works in the dreams of clueless quacks who have a bone to pick with other forms of transit (or are lackeys of the Automobile industry)... Gee, I wonder why you are posting from Michigan...

...after all, that evil City from Logan's Run was destroyed, along with its insipid PRT system. And remember, no one wants to ride the stupid, grade separated peoplemover at disney world/disneyland (or Jacksonville for that matter). :lol:

Grade separated transportation has a very negative history in the US - thank god they demolished the Embarcadero freeway in SF, as well as the elevated freeway through Boston.

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:sick: PRT is for quacks. Stop exclusively posting useless PRT propaganda on Urban Planet or you'll be banned. PRT is just another form of private automobile on a fixed guideway system, is ugly, cannot be built on a large scale, is probably only a single lane (how will that work when it becomes so popular that traffic snarls on these fixed guideways), and only works in the dreams of clueless quacks who have a bone to pick with other forms of transit (or are lackeys of the Automobile industry)... Gee, I wonder why you are posting from Michigan...

...after all, that evil City from Logan's Run was destroyed, along with its insipid PRT system. And remember, no one wants to ride the stupid, grade separated peoplemover at disney world/disneyland (or Jacksonville for that matter). :lol:

Grade separated transportation has a very negative history in the US - thank god they demolished the Embarcadero freeway in SF, as well as the elevated freeway through Boston.

This is an offensive post, and I reported it to the moderators. Apparently, moderators are exempt from the rules, like rule #1 ("bashing a group of people" -> "clueless quacks"). In any case, I haven't heard any response about it, so I guess I'm unwelcome here, so this will be my last post.

Here are my response to your comments.

I do not consider posts promoting or discussing a transit technology to be "useless propoganda". I expected the "Urban Transit" forum to be a place to have rational discussion about existing and future transit modes, their benefits, and their shortcomings. I believe PRT has the potential to be very beneficial to cities of moderate to high density, because of it's greater energy efficiency, on-demand travel, and point-to-point service with no transfers. Calling PRT "just another form of automobile" disregards it's place as a public transportation system that that could have a significant impact on congestion and pollution in cities.

In part of your argument, you say "PRT...is probably only a single lane." If you aren't familiar with the concept, how can you bash it? Most PRT designs have loops of single-direction guideway that have stations every one-half mile or so. Single guideways are easier to design, cheaper to erect, and less visually intrusive.

If a PRT system becomes so popular that traffic "snarls", that's a bad thing? I would expect this level of use of a PRT system wonderful, because it has gotten people out of their cars and would be providing a level of service not possible with today's group-transportation based system (bus, rail). How would it "snarl"? Since the entire system is computer controlled, and (in one design) the computers would only let the vehicles start to travel when they would have the ability to travel non-stop in their own "slot" to their destination, there wouldn't be any slowdowns or traffic jams. Plus this is a network and the vehicles pick the shortest, quickest route to their destination. The starting stations and destination stations probably follow some random distribution, so congestion along one route or at one station is pretty unlikely.

The only bone PRT supporters have to pick with other forms of transit are their inefficiencies: higher energy use than PRT; less time efficient (passengers have to wait for the transit vehicle and have to wait every time another passenger boards or deboards); less convenient (doesn't take them to their destination, transfers, need of learning which route goes where, etc).

I believe grade separated transit has many benefits: no contention with automobiles (how often do we hear about fatal collisions with commuter trains?) or pedestrians; not impacted by traffic jams; small footprint in already dense, expensive urban areas.

People ride the monorail here in Seattle when they visit the city as tourists. Were you talking about the monorail at Disneyworld/Disneyland as stupid? Why don't people want to ride it?

Who's posting from Michigan? I don't see anyone in this thread...

To answer my own original question, I think Seattle would benefit from PRT. The city is bounded on the east and west by bodies of water. The finite land area of the city has many bus routes, but buses get stuck in traffic. Like other forms of group transportation, passengers must wait for the vehicle to arrive to board, and must stop at any stop where any other passenger wants to board or deboard. At night, the frequency of vehicles is reduced, so the wait times are longer. PRT vehicles would be waiting at the stations at off-peak times, and would probably be a maximum of a few (3) minutes away during the peak times.

It's hard, at least for me, to know which bus route would take me to where I want to go, since there are so many. PRT would allow passengers to go to any station in the system from any station. Traffic in Seattle is pretty busy for several hours in the morning and in the evening, since there aren't many roads to traverse the north-south corridor of the city (I5, AWV/99).

Seattle is hilly. PRT vehicles would be able to negotiate the hills here with little problem. PRT guideways can be curved in a much smaller radius than light rail or monorail. The guideways are small and don't require much land use (a 2-foot diameter post every 60 feet of linear guideway). The existing Seattle Center Monorail has a much, much larger guideway, and has been in the city for over 40 years.

PRT would be much cheaper to build than monorail or light rail. Many Seattle residents are very concerned with any money spent by the local government. A several hundred million dollar PRT system would cover a much larger area of the city, and provide better service, than an equivalently priced light rail or monorail system.

If anyone wants more info, see the links in my other posts throughout the forum, or search the web for "personal rapid transit".

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PRTSUPPORTER:

I can't speak for him/her, but I think Jaybee was maybe just being sarcastic and wasn't really bashing you persay. Don't let something like this chase you off. I'm sure the moderators will attend to this matter appropriately.

JAYBEE:

If that REALLY is how you feel, well, that's fine. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but perhaps it should have been worded differently, especially since you are a moderator. Again, not speaking for anybody, don't want to draw any conclusions.

Personal opinion, and I've stated this before, PRT does have a legitimate place in certain environments. Maybe not everywhere. I think it should be examined case by case, minus the overt bashing..... :huh:

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At the 2005 TRB meeting in DC I had a very long discussion with Alain Kornhauser, a Princeton University professor. He's been working on a STATEWIDE PRT system plan for New Jersey. It's quite an interesting plan, for certain. I think its intentions are noble, and that it could work where there's a consistent but relatively light-to-moderate demand at each station. Should this thing really become popular, I wonder how the system would deal with queuing & merging from station to main line. Also, with how extensive Kornhauser's system would be, the impact on the landscape would be dramatic (even moreso than our current highways, IMO). But, there would be 4 stations within 1/2 mile of my apartment!

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I am SO INTRIGUED by the PRT concept. I think that local rail transit has been a failure thus far in America. Every city that has gone with heavy or light rail still has bad congestion. These projects still don't go where people live and want to go. They've pitched cutting large swaths of land through the cities and most neighborhood have rejected it. My experience with heavy rail in suburban areas has often meant long wait times on cold, windy platforms. I could have been in my car, comfortable, not dealing with aerosols of a person sneezing at me :angry: , listening to the radio, and not wasting valuable lead time.

Raleigh is a medium sized city with very few dense population areas. So, a HOTV (High-occupancy transit vehicle) won't be a popular option for people. I think that for people to get out of their cars, they need something that does BETTER than the car. It must be safer, more efficient, just as comfortable, private, flexible, and there when you want it for the average person here to take the option.

Grade separation is an important option. Flying transit over congested car areas is great advertising. It also removes the working areas from vandals without long fences that create barriers to pedestrian movement and the need for bridges for cars. We have a growing deer problem here, and while you can control automobile flow all you want, you cannot control deer, dogs, and other wildlife. Aesthetically, I'd rather have the Disney monorail flying around an historic area that cutting a large swath at pedestrian level and erecting a long, tall fence. The other option is subterranean tracks, but that is enormously expensive and hides the very system you are trying to sell to commuters.

I'm also intrigued by a concept that is so lightweight that stations can be inserted as rider demands change. Truthfully it would be cheaper to offer a door-to-door custom limo service for all of the handicapped people than to build ADA-compliant stations for them.

What happens if the system goes down? People would have to be cherry picked until movement is possible. However I have sat on a highway with no options for over 30 minutes. Because computers would drive the PRT vehicles, the accident rate on a PRT system per rider would likely be far less than with cars, so I don't think people would have to be cherry-picked very often at all.

The PRT concept is interesting because it offers a chance to vastly reduce costs. Because the vehicles are much lighter than a HOTV, the superstructure can be so light that pieces can be made in a factory, under controlled conditions. There is a potential to build something for far less than current HOTV projects.

Another interesting possibility is for privately funded spurs. In the RTP area our downtowns are on the weak side. We have 3 major Universities, but we also have the Research Triangle Park; a collection of large-scale business and highly secure research campuses. A HOTV system is proposed, but many doubt they will use it because the central RTP area will have two HOTV stops. Each company will have to furnish shuttle buses to service their employees dispatched at the station. What now takes a friend of mine 35 minutes to drive, would take him 75 minutes using three modes of transportation (drive to the station, ride the train, ride the shuttle). Do you really think he'll opt to ride the HOTV? A PRT concept, though, could offer employees exclusive access to the PRT line that goes to Glaxo's front door, for instance, especially if Glaxo builds the spur.

There are a lot of interesting possibilities for PRT in a medium sized, medium density environment. I think I'd save personal attacks like "quack" until we see this concept implemented and see its strengths and weaknesses. We have to do better than what HOTVs are currently doing for us (otherwise we wouldn't even have this board)

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In general I like the idea of PRT. However, I cannot see how on a large scale it would work, or be cost effective in the long run. In very densly populated or closely located areas like a university or large corporate campus I can see where it might work. However, in a more typical environment I do not see it ever comming to fruition. The idea of most transit systems is you can carry more people to the areas they are going at less cost than building a road, PRT does not really achieve this when it is placed on a large scale level. One would have to build multiple guideways (all connected around the stations) so that the PRT vehicles could pass eachother, otherwise you would get massive traffic jams in the sky....kind of like the Jetsons.

I could see the type of PRT that connects to cars (or similar vehicles) and runs on seperate lanes in a highway being built, but even that would have to be supported by a complete change in the automobiles that people drive, which means that houndreds of thousands of people would need to replace their cars with this new type of auto....unless a new type of connector device is made that I do not know about to connect the cars to the guideway.

Now, to say that seperated guideways are not successful is just plain ignorant. EVERY subway or major metro system is a seperated guideway system, and the mojority could be called very successful. Further, the Jacksonville Skyway is quite popular. Have you ridden it? I have several times durring rush hour and every train I was on was full.

Steve

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Here's a website about "The Sky Loop" a proposed PRT system to go into the Cincinnati, OH metro area. The website looks pretty cheesy but does contain wealth of detailed info and some videoclips about PRT.

The Sky Loop

My personal opinion about PRT is in a "wait and see" position. Even though it sounds good on paper, this is a new and untested method of mass transit. Thus, I would like to see a fully implemented PRT system in action for awhile before making a judgment and going Ga-Ga to wanting one in my home town.

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