Michael D. Setty: PRT will ‘work,' but it won't be worth it
Larry Fabian of Boston is correct that personal rapid transit will technically "work," like the technologically clever Segway also "works." Segways were touted as a "transportation revolution" but to date have found only a few practical uses, such as tourist rentals and as a ride for security guards.
In 99 percent of the cases where PRT evangelists like Fabian think PRT is applicable, creative application of proven transit technologies will be far more economic, quicker to implement and attractive to would-be riders.
Consider the conceptual "Quality Bus" network proposed for Winona as an alternative to PRT in my December 2009 paper (available at www.publictransit.us/PRTDebunked1-WINONA.pdf).
A full PRT system serving Winona, realistically, would cost around $300 million to $400 million, plus conservatively costing $8 million to $11 million annually to operate - with an assumption very generous to PRT that it would attract around 4 million passengers annually.
In contrast, I estimated a quality bus network running every 10 to 15 minutes all day, built around proven transit planning principles, will cost about $35 million, plus about $3.4 million to $3.5 million annually to operate.
Conservatively, a quality bus network will attract 2 million to 3 million annual riders, assuming supporting parking and other policies at Winona State University and by the city.
I thought common sense and practicality were the hallmarks of being a Midwesterner.
So why have the parking problems at Winona State University continued to use up a lot of ink, unlike many Midwestern university towns where tighter parking rules and frequent, attractive transit networks have mitigated the issue?
Bloomington, Ind., Champaign-Urbana, Ill., Lafayette, Ind., Macomb, Ill., and many other communities have achieved balance between parking and attractive bus networks.
Certainly Winona can too - if there is a will while avoiding fanciful diversions such as PRT.
The voice of reason has surfaced.
If it could only be heard by the narrow of mind who dreamed that this idea had any merit at all.
As we observed, Mall of America we are not! Where is our common sense?
Recall the days when we had bus routes?
PRT is so not happening in Minnesota.