Monday, February 15, 2010

ULTra PRT Heathrow Debut Delayed a Third Time?

UPDATE: ULTra PRT Heathrow Debut Postponed a Fourth Time.

U of M CTS Report:

Steve Raney, a principal with ATS ULTra, gave an overview of current PRT technology and discussed ULTra’s recently completed PRT project for London’s Heathrow airport.

The ULTra circulator runs on an elevated guideway to connect Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 to a remote parking lot. Its on-demand nature was particularly useful for this destination. “PRT was the only practical solution for (the British Airport Authority),” Raney said. “It had a 60 percent travel time savings and 40 percent operating costs savings” over other modes. Construction on the project is currently complete, with revenue service scheduled to begin this spring.

According to a presentation by Martin Lowson (available at the ATRA website) the new launch window is in "Mid 2010":

That would make it three times the debut of the glorified golf carts have been postponed. How many chances do these PRT guys get?

Public Transit had this comment after the second postponement:

It seems that the opening of the Ultra PRT system constructed at Heathrow Airport outside London, England, has been delayed again, by issues that remain unidentified.

During some intense debate earlier this year involving this website and the engineering team behind the Ultra PRT at Heathrow, it was stated that the system would open for revenue service in the "4th quarter" of 2009, e.g., sometime between October 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009.

In recent British press reports (for example, ), the system now reportedly will open "sometime next year." To wit:

The bubble-shaped, driverless cars with black, bug-eyed windows are his solution to the problems of urban travel. He began working on the system in 1995 and NEXT YEAR [2010] they are due to start operating at Heathrow, carrying passengers from car parks to Terminal 5 [emphasis added].

So what gives? Did the concerns raised here a few months ago sink in, and perhaps produce more "due diligence." Of course, I'm not going to hold my breath for any explanation from Mr. Lowenson et al regarding up to another year of delay.

Also, displaying the Ultra PRT vehicles alongside Stephenson's Rocket is highly presumptuous until PRT is actually proven for several years in revenue service, which it still has to show.

Steve Raney had this to say after the first postponement,
"I've certainly been in situations where the people I'm communicating with really hate PRT."


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