At present, Heathrow airport is the only place where the pod is operational. While it is right now being used by the airport staff, the commercial operations will start soon after Christmas.
Well, it's after New Years and the "news" from the ULTra January Newsletter is that they are still testing, testing , testing...
1. November Heathrow “revenue service trials” produce excellent results
The four weeks of "Simulated Revenue Service" trial - intended to mimic real operating conditions - using Terminal 5 staff as passengers - is now complete. This involved operation of the system for 10.5 hr each day of the trial period. During these trials ULTra achieved a System Availability - defined as the ability for any passenger to travel to any station during any given minute -- of 99.6%. For comparison, most APMs (Automatic People Movers) in similar applications function with availability levels between 97.5% and 99.5%, and are more reliable than manually-driven alternatives. Among all transit modes, ULTra's debut performance puts it near the front of the pack in terms of delivering proven reliability.
So why not open it to the public? What are they afraid of?
This isn't the first time the uber-hyped, glorified golf carts of Heathrow missed a launch date.The pods were supposed to open to the public way back in 2006. and have failed to launch at least 3 or 4 times... who cares anymore.
Meanwhile, ULTra gives us an picture (see below) what an elevated PRT station would look like. Heathrow doesn't have a free=standing elevated station. Plans for city-wide PRT systems would have scores of these huge, ugly stations, festooned with advertising. Note the pylons sunk in the middle of the sidewalk. Very pedestrian-un-friendly:
According to a presentation by Martin Lowson (available at the ATRA website) the new launch window was supposed to be "Mid 2010":
The June, 2010 launch date also came from this guy who supposedly works for ULTra:
Testing of the PRT System is continuing and, with all installation and communications challenges now resolved,
we anticipate commencing passenger services in late Spring 2010." This is what I'd call a joint BAA/ATS approved statement.
That link is broken. Here's a screenshot:
Well, when June arrived we got this info via a tweet from the PRT Guru that linked to his website where we found this statement:
June 2010: It appears ULTra will not meet its previously-announced June opening date at London’s Heathrow Airport. BAA has issued the following statement: "The Heathrow pod is innovative technology and we have always said that the system will be launched when it is ready to do so. The system, as well as being a world first, is bespoke [customized] to fit into existing airport infrastructure and the process of completing this is informing our decision about the launch date. Testing is continuing and we anticipate that the system will officially launch in the near future."
The statement as it appeared on the ULTra PRT website (link broken):
"The Heathrow pod is innovative technology and we have always said that the system will be launched when it is ready to do so. The system, as well as being a world first, is bespoke (custom-made) to fit into existing airport infrastructure and the process of completing this is informing our decision about the launch date. Testing is continuing and we anticipate that the system will officially launch in the near future." - BAA's schedule statement, June 2010.
It's not surprising that the effect of these postponements of the much-publicized ULTra have made public officials skeptical, even irritated at PRT promoters as explained in this video:
More PRT Flops and Fiascos:
JPODs Flop in Hull, Mass.
Personal Rapid Transit is NOT Happening in Masdar.
Twitter Reveals Morgantown WVU Personal Rapid Transit's Frequent Breakdowns.
Personal Rapid Transit Is NOT a "New Technology.
The Pawlenty administration wasted at least $150,000 on personal rapid transit .
PRT Conference Newsletter & Website Features PRT Plan by Convicted Felon. Dean Zimmermann also showed up at last year's bizarre MnDOT "PRT Workshop.
PRT is so not happening at Heathrow.
Daventry says "Pods Off!". also see the Daventry anti-pod Facebook page.
Video: Bill James Pitches Jpods Resolution to Hennepin County.
Federal Funding Nixed for Winona Personal Rapid Transit Project
Taxi 2000 lobbyist and Bachmann pal Ed Cain also lobbied for the phony U.S. Navy Veterans Association charity.
No $25 million earmark for PRT pork project in Winona, Minnesota.
The Swedish/Korean PRT prototype malfunctioned recently in front of the media.