Saturday, April 9, 2011

Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit Continue to Spread Misleading Info About Transit Costs

One of the many unfounded claims of Personal Rapid Transit promoters is that PRT can pay for itself. Here's what then-Senator Michele Bachmann told Minnesota Public Radio:

Supporters range from Minneapolis City Council member Dean Zimmerman, a Green Party member, to Republican Sen. Michelle Bachmann of Stillwater. Bachmann says personal rapid transit, like many political issues, creates strange bedfellows.

"People on the right, people on the left, we have the common goal of moving people with transit, but doing it in the most cost-effective manner, in fact, in a manner that may end up costing no government subsidy, it may end up paying for itself," she says.

Taxi 2000 says PRT could be paid for by fares and private investors.

At the MnDOT PRT workshop last year (PDF), former Minneapolis Councilman Dean Zimmermann made a similar claim:

In terms of cost, the legislature is willing to spend all kinds of costs to subsidize all these kinds of transportation. No one is dif-ferentiating between capital cost and operat-ing cost … Every single vendor in here will tell you if we build this system, it will pay back its cost with revenue. Light rail takes $10 million a year of public subsidy. The bus system, 25 percent paid for by users, and let’s not even go into the automobile, the most heavily subsidized transportation system. PRT is the only system mentioned that will pay for itself in terms of operating cost.

I saw Dean Zimmermann tabling for the Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit (CPR) at the 6th Annual Sustainable Communities Conference in downtown Minneapolis, so I was able to ask him to explain how PRT could pay for itself:

Of course, transit systems cannot survive without subsidies, But, in these tough fiscal times, it is a claim that cash-strapped citizens and public officials may want to hear. This comment on a forum explains why subsidy-free PRT is a fantasy:

First, you say that PRT will pay for itself. This is preposterous. You have a system that has low volume and will need extremely sophisticated infrastructure. There is no way, theoretically, that you can have such a system that will pay for itself.

Second, no genuine PRT system has been built anywhere ever. So you have no proof to back up your argument there.

Third, every time they try building a PRT system, they go to local governments to ask for money. So that's just proof of more fantasizing on your part.

Finally, ALL TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS COST MONEY. It's just that systems such as light rail are the very systems that Detroit grew up around. So when we talk about light rail, it is a serious investment with proven gains that works in other cities -- and has worked here before. That is why light rail is credible, and why such untried, never-implemented systems as PRT are a joke.

Also interesting is that the CPRT continues to make the creepy and bogus claim that people don't like riding with "strangers" (click on the picture to make it bigger):

Recent news about the ongoing, worldwide pod boondoggle:

Another Crackpot Personal Rapid Transit Proposal Bites the Dust (Almelo)

Strange Minnesota industry - 3 Proposed PRT Projects, 6 PRT Companies and 2 PRT Lobbyists.

Former Rep. Mark Olson Returns to Capitol as a lobbyist for would-be PRT vendor proposing $100 million pod project in Coon Rapids.

The CPRT table at U of M Jobs Fair.

Daventry citizens say "Pods Off" to PRT TWICE!

Duluth News Tribune article about Taxi 2000 trying to restart Duluth pod project - hilarious comments.

The Pawlenty administration wasted thousands of taxpayers' dollars promoting personal rapid transit .

PRT is so not happening at Heathrow.

Pod people invade Newport News ( the article quotes retired professor Vukan Vuchic)

Bizarre hearing for wacky Jpods proposal for Hull, Massachusetts. Video: Bill James Pitches Jpods Resolution to Hennepin County.

Taxi 2000 Corporation spent nearly $80K on lobbying in Minnesota in 5 years. Taxi 2000 lobbyist and Bachmann pal Ed Cain also lobbied for the phony U.S. Navy Veterans Association charity.

Federal Funding Nixed for Winona Personal Rapid Transit Project

The Swedish/Korean PRT prototype malfunctioned in front of the media.

The Masdar PRT (actually computer-guided golf carts that follow magnets imbedded in the roadway) has been scaled way back, This setback got a mention in the NY Times and confirmed in this Bloomberg article. New post-mortem: "Masdar City Abandons Transportation System of the Future".

The so-called Morgantown PRT (it's a mundane people-mover) was the subject of a student newspaper editorial after a malfunction created a "fireball" and filled a vehicle with smoke. The cost of fixing the Morgantown boondoggle is $93 million. Twitter Reveals Morgantown WVU Personal Rapid Transit's Frequent Breakdowns.

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