Monday, January 4, 2010

City Council Vote Soon on Winona Pods

Winona Daily News:

Planning for pods

City leaders are likely to continue a bid to bring a controversial transportation system to Winona.

Council members may vote as early as this month on whether to ask local lawmakers to sponsor a bill seeking state funds to support testing Personal Rapid Transit, a futuristic system of small vehicles moving on guideways that take passengers straight to their destination. City leaders have outlined a $25 million proposal using state, federal and private funds that would create a PRT test lab at the Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical campus.

But as with high-speed rail, Winona will likely have competition from other municipalities throughout the state, as the Minnesota Department of Transportation soon may solicit proposals for test sites elsewhere, a spokesman said last month.

Winona City Council member Debbie White gave me this comment about the pod plan:

As currently proposed, the PRT would be a test/pilot project which Winona would be ideal for. With the mix of private, federal, and state money, it has the potential to benefit a broad range of stakeholders, e.g. education, R & D, transportation efficiencies, industry/manufacturing, job creation, new business incubators, green infrastructure, and renewable energy initiatives. As well, the concept brings a wealth of opportunities for Minnesota.

I hope Debbie White has an opportunity, before the vote to perform some due diligence in regards to PRT... for instance, she could contact elected officials in Daventry, England who were also wooed with similar claims about the potential benefits of PRT and were left only with a bill for £485,936.43:

Shock at cost of pod scheme

Published Date: 04 June 2009

I RECENTLY requested some information from Daventry District Council (DDC) regarding expenditure on
the PRT system proposed for Daventry.

I was more than shocked by the result and thought it incumbent on me to share the information with your readership. See quoted response below.

"The total expenditure on Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), including consideration of alternative transport modes, in the period of February 12 2007 to April 1 2009 was £485,936.43. This figure includes commissioned studies and all associated expenses.

"It is not a simple process to extract purely PRT costs, however for the period set out in this response PRT was coded separately within our internal finance processes.

"Please note that the council received grant funding from Northamptonshire Enterprise Limited of £200,000 (in 2007) as support for our studies.

"Hence the net Council expenditure for PRT in the period stated above was £285,936.43." (Northamptonshire Enterprise Limited (NEL) is a Government funded body) With nearly half a million pounds being spent on PRT I also asked how much money had been spent on the alternative transport systems and the answer appears to be nothing.

This begs the question what are the alternative transport systems being considered and how serious has the consideration of them been?

Councillor Mark Wesley
Abbey South
Daventry Town Council

Good question... why is PRT (an imaginary mode of transport) the only mode being considered for Winona?

What was the process that resulted in PRT and only PRT being the preferred mode for this project in Winona?

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