Monday, December 28, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Personal, Slow, Boring ... Whatever...

This is it, the great "transportation revolution".... what a joke...

Over-hyped, you think? Click on the image to make larger:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ghosts of "Innovative" Transportation's Past

From the old Taxi 2000 website, The Transportation Renaissance, by Edmund Rydell and Hennepin County Court records.

Click on pics to make larger...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Winona Post Article on the Pods

Sarah Elmquist in the Winona Post:

It might seem like science fiction, but local leaders say it could be the wave of Winona’s future: a test site for a transit system featuring pod-like cars that ride along tracks built high over the city.
Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) systems have garnered some interest from state leaders, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) recently appointing a new director of PRT technology. And, after meeting with industry and Mn/DOT officials on the potential for such a new system, Mayor Jerry Miller has thrown Winona’s name in the hat as a potential site for a $25 million test bed.

Local leaders say that such a test bed could help spur job creation, and that composite companies in the area could potentially build components of the system, too. They say that such a PRT test site would be used, but wouldn’t aim to solve any big transit problems in Winona, rather it would serve as a site that could demonstrate how the new technology works for other interested cities and officials.

Skip to the bottom of the article for some common sense....

One of PRT’s most outspoken critics, Dr. Vukan Vuchic, Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote a 2007 book, “Urban Transit Systems and Technology,” which argues against PRT as a model for future transit.

Calling the concept “inherently unsound,” Vuchic says that complicated and expensive guideways coupled with low density small vehicles doesn’t make sense anywhere. In big cities, he says, where transit needs could justify the cost of guideways, small low density cars can’t meet the need for transit. And in smaller cities, where such low density cars would be feasible, the cost of guideway infrastructure outweighs the need for such transit. “Consequently, the combination of the two features -- small vehicle and complicated guideway -- is paradoxical and makes the PRT mode impractical under all conditions.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Paper Critical of PRT for Winona, MN

From Michael Setty at PublicTransit.US:

OK, OK, we have spent way much more time on PRT than it really deserves, however...As a favor to the taxpayers of Winona, Minnesota, and for future cases of other municipalities suffering from the "Music Man" style of PRT salesmanship when it comes to town, we have posted a new paper debunking Personal Rapid Transit, "Professor" Harold Hill Pitches PRT to a River City on the Mississippi in Minnesota. Link is Even though this paper has been available only since the morning of Sunday, December 20th, it has already created quite a stir among the PRT hoi-polloi.

This is an excellent paper.

This paper will join Personal Rapid Transit – Cyberspace Dream Keeps Colliding With Reality and the Central Loop OKI report, and Professor Vukan Vuchic's writings as essential reading for citizens, public officials and investors who have been approached by the PRT guys.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Editorial: "Space pods seem a little too far out "

Winona Daily News:

Last week, Winona learned of a plan by city leaders to court public funds and private investors in a collaborative effort to develop a model for personal rapid transit systems.

They’ve been dubbed “space pods,” because drawings of such a system depict streamlined bubbles on tracks that pass by not-too-distant-future type buildings.

For a moment, though, let’s pause on that thought — just drawings.

We only really have drawings of PRTs — and there’s a reason for that.

As Winona begins to explore and advocate for a $25 million model, which will not really serve the area’s own transit needs, there has never been a successful PRT system launched.

One system is slated for London’s Heathrow Airport, but right now, it’s still not functional.

Good editorial, read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

PRT Promoter David Gow Has a Twitter Meltdown

David Gow, who maintains several PRT websites and several attack blogs aimed at me, is one of those people who thinks that his activity on Twitter is private and did not anticipate I would read his tweets about me and make those tweets public.... now, Mr. Gow is furiously tweeting that he was being "sarcastic" (see screenshot, below).

David Gow (Blogger ID- Mr_Grant) is very much the public face of Personal Rapid Transit on the internet. I hope Governor Pawlenty, MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel and elected officials take a good look at PRT promoters like David Gow before they waste additional time or money on PRT.

Why Is PRT Promoter David Gow Tweeting About Anonymous Comments on a Crime Story?

The easy answer is I am mentioned in a recent City Pages article about a fugitive from justice, a former Green Party candidate for Ward 10 and a former friend of mine. I am quoted in the article saying clearly that Knapp should be brought to justice and that I had no knowledge of the crimes Knapp is accused of committing.

Here is a list of Mr. Gow's recent tweets about me... four out of five mention myself and the fugitive, Mark Knapp and link to the article :

David Gow's latest tweet says the following:

More comment in City Pages' #MarkKnapp story #KenAvidor

There are two new comment(s) to the article. The first states the following:

So where's the photo of Knapp so we citizens can help capture him? Maybe Ken Avidor could could submit a perp sketch. Oh wait - after looking at his Petters trial sketches, that wouldn't help.

Well, there's a screenshot of Mark Knapp's old campaign website with a photo of him in that article.

The other anonymous comment Mr. Gow tweeted about says the following:

I never did trust that Ken Avidor. Cynicism is the easiest out. Interesting that the federal marshalls are visiting him. he just spent several weeks sitting next to his FBI buddies in federal court. Go figure. he is not one to trust

It is true that I sat next to the FBI during much of the trial, because that was the best place to sketch the witnesses. During opening and closing arguments, I sat far to the left side of the gallery to get a profile of the attorneys.

As for describing the FBI as my "buddies"... I have sent three Freedom of Information requests to the FBI for the audio and video exhibits shown in open court at the trial of Gary Dean Zimmermann.... and all three requests were rejected because the FBI said I needed a waiver from Zimmermann, which he refused to give me.

Do I support Federal investigations into economic crimes such as Ponzi schemes, bribery and identity theft? You bet I do. Do I think the investigations, trials and convictions of Gary Dean Zimmermann and Tom Petters were fair and just? Absolutely. Until Mark Knapp is apprehended, we will not know whether he is guilty of the crimes for which he has been charged. However, Mark Knapp's flight from justice is a crime. In order to apprehend Knapp, law enforcement came to my home and others... I don't have a problem with that. The Feds are working really hard to investigate and prosecute white collar crime... and they deserve our support. They have my support.

Do the PRT guys support the Fed's effort to investigate and prosecute economic crimes?

Listen to Margaret Beegle, director of Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit, a participant in the recent MNDOT PRT symposium as she accuses the FBI of setting up Gary Dean Zimmermann:

Here's Gary Carlson, the witness in the trial of Dean Zimmermann talking about Zimmermann asking him for $250,000 for PRT:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Article: "Winona Officials Release Details for PRT funding plan"

Winona Daily News:

Winona officials gave new details Tuesday of their proposal to use state, federal and private funds for a PRT test lab at the Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical campus. They'll probably have to vie with other cities, as the Minnesota Department of Transportation soon may solicit proposals for PRT test sites elsewhere, a MnDOT official said Tuesday.


Minnesota legislators considered funding a PRT test lab in 2004 but balked amid skepticism at its viability - and concern that it would drain funding from other transit modes such as light rail. PRT still draws interest from some state lawmakers, though others in key posts recently told a St. Paul think tank they won't support funding for it.

That think tank, the liberal-leaning Minnesota 2020, has criticized Winona's bid to host a PRT test site, saying it "strains credulity."

Minnesota 2020 fellow Conrad DeFiebre last week quoted transit committee chairmen in both chambers - Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. D. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis - as saying they oppose funding the proposal. Neither lawmaker returned calls this week from the Daily News.

Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, said he welcomes funding for PRT development in Winona or elsewhere. He said lawmakers might discuss whether to fund a study of test sites for PRT during the 2010 legislative session. Murphy's Republican colleague on the transportation committee, Minnetrista Sen. Gen Olson, also said she'd back funding for PRT testing.

Previous attempts to develop PRT have failed or created huge cost overruns, like in Rosemount, Ill., where officials discontinued a PRT project in 1999. But cities worldwide are revisiting the technology: London is building a system at Heathrow Airport slated to operate in 2010, and San Jose, Calif., also is exploring PRT.

MnDOT commissioner Tom Sorel created a post last week to oversee the technology and appointed Mukhtar Thakur as MnDOT's director of PRT development. Thakur said computer technology has improved since the PRT failures of years past. Thakur also said PRT doesn't need to compete with light rail, but could provide "last-mile" transport to complement other transit modes.

Murphy said a PRT test lab could position Minnesota as a global leader in transit technology.

"The face of transportation technology is changing," Murphy said. "We need to get in front of that curve."