Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Seattle Transportation "Expert" Attempts to Explain Bachmann's Support for Pod Boondoggle

Expect a lot of revising of history as we get closer to the 2010 election. A promoter of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) tried to downplay Bachmann's attempt to monkey-wrench transit with PRT when she was in the Minnesota State Senate.

David Gow is the "Seattle Transportation Examiner" at Gow also claims to be an "internationally recognized commentator on Personal Rapid Transit from his site Get On Board! PRT"

On a recent post called "PODCARS - Misunderstanding PRT" Gow states the following:

• Only right wing extremists want PRT. This claims Bachmann proposed a "PRT boondoggle." In reality Bachmann proposed adding the words "personal rapid transit" to Minnesota's lengthy list of types of public projects eligible to be funded by bonds. That was in 2004, and she hasn't said a word since about PRT, or introduced federal legislation about it -- nor did any other Republican in all the years they controlled Congress after the 1994 midterm elections.

Well, that leaves out Bachmann's grandstanding in the media. This is what Minnesota Public radio reported in 2004:

Supporters range from Minneapolis City Council member Dean Zimmerman, a Green Party member, to Republican Sen. Michelle Bachmann of Stillwater. Bachmann says personal rapid transit, like many political issues, creates strange bedfellows.

"People on the right, people on the left, we have the common goal of moving people with transit, but doing it in the most cost-effective manner, in fact, in a manner that may end up costing no government subsidy, it may end up paying for itself," she says.

Was Bachmann really interested in "moving people with transit"?

This is what Bachmann said about transit on her old website:

"As your District 52 State Senator, I will work hard to add capacity to Minnesota highways.... This is my personal commitment to you." "Michele believes a successful transportation policy must put an end to the diversion of scarce funds to impractical and expensive rail transit programs that will have no direct benefit for area residents and will cost millions of dollars in the future for operating subsidies. She has called for dedicating 100 percent of the sales tax on vehicles to road construction."

Why would Bachmann promote a phony transit system? For the same reason Bachmann hallucinates about "sex clinics" and "death panels"... Bachmann is a liar who will use bogus junk to monkey wrench the "liberal agenda".

PRT was promoted heavily in 2004 by Mark Olson (ejected from the House GOP Caucus after he was convicted for domestic abuse and voted out of office) and former Minneapolis Councilman Dean Zimmermann (convicted in 2006 for bribery). Like Michele Bachmann, Mark Olson and Dean Zimmermann were opposed to rail transit.

Minnesota House Speaker (and DFL candidate for Governor) Margaret Kelliher said in 2004 that PRT had "junk bond status"... she was right then and she is still right. PRT is a boondoggle that has wasted tons of money.

PRT has always been used a a stalking horse to attack reality-based transit. Here's a letter David Gow wrote to the Seattle Times in 2003:

Antebellum technology

Mayor Greg Nickels' South Lake Union streetcar proposal is the most ludicrous transportation nonsolution I have heard in quite some time. The streetcar record in city after city is clear: high construction costs, high subsidies and no significant effect on congestion. How can streetcars be part of an intelligently designed new biotech district, when streetcars guarantee its streets will be congested?

I find it hard to believe that the best our civic leaders can offer us is this antebellum transit technology. Why is Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) not on the table for exploration? PRT is a "horizontal elevator" system that offers automated, on-demand, mass transit service.

For the same amount Seattle is planning to invest in trains, a grid of lightweight, unobtrusive, elevated PRT rail can be built covering the entire city.

PRT could even be deployed in South Lake Union, serving both as an efficient local circulator and to feed people to and from future train stations. And it could be done at a fraction of the cost of a streetcar line.

So why aren't Seattle's leaders looking at PRT?

Is it because the transit consultants giving them advice make an excellent living going around the country recommending trains?

David Gow, Seattle

In other PRT Pod People news...

The much hyped ULTra PRT project at Heathrow Airport has been postponed a second time.

The much-hyped PRT project in Masdar will be a 8 or so automated pods running around a basement.

What happened to this astronaut's PRT plans for Austin, Texas? It's a good guess it never got off the launch pad.

There was a PRT puff piece in the Boston Globe about PRT that mentioned that PRT was being considered as a people mover in San Jose.... I took a look at the list of RFI respondents and among the credible companies like Bombardier, there are some real howlers:

Alden DAVe Systems, d.b.a., East Falmouth, MA - Bill Alden is the octogenarian dabbler in gadgetbahn, would be inventor of the 1960's StaRRCar (See goofy picture of the StaRRCar here)

Beamways,Sweden, - A very silly pod concept similar to this creepy CGI animation on You Tube.

Cabintaxi Corporation, Detroit, MI, - Wacky 1970's concept - You Tube video with hilarious pre-disco era soundtrack.

CyberTran International, Emeryville, CA, Totally ridiculous.

MISTER Ltd., Poland , - Polish PRT?

Robert J Slade (Jack); Ontario, Canada - Who the heck is Jack Slade?

Taxi 2000 Corp, Fridley, MN, - This would-be PRT vendor hasn't sold a pod since it was founded over a decade ago.

Roane Inventions Incorporated , Georgetown, Texas - Is this TriTrack? The video with the woman in the tank top is a hoot.

Unimodal Systems, LLC ,Los Angeles, CA , - used to be known as Skytran... totally absurd.

VECTUS, Sweden and Korea, - A glorified roller coaster.

Jpods, Santa Clara, CA, - I hope San Jose picks Jpods, because people will be able to pimp their own pods:

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