Friday, August 12, 2011

Heathrow's ULTra Personal Rapid Transit Pods Have 5% Failure Rate

Once touted by supporters as "faster, better cheaper" than conventional transit, The much-hyped ULTra Personal Rapid Transit experimental operation at Heathrow's T5 terminal parking facility is described as a "taxi" service that fails one in twenty passengers according to Airport International's News:

Each pod is capable of accommodating four passengers plus their luggage and, at present, they're used by something like 800 passengers on a daily basis. The speed of these airport robot pods peaks at about 25 miles per hour and, since the fleet became operational, they've shown themselves to be pretty reliable, with a five per cent failure rate.

The article doesn't explain what "failure" means.

Keep in mind, the trial period began April 18, 2011. The ULTra pods have not been tested in extreme winter conditions. J.E. Anderson doubted ULTra 's ability to handle wintery conditions in 2004 (Salon):

Edward Anderson, however, quibbles with Lowson's assessment of superiority, pointing out the ULTra's larger cars would cost more and add weight to the tracks, and that the electric-car system is more vulnerable to inclement weather.

According to the ULTra website, snow removal is accomplished by a "special snow and ice removal vehicle". This is how the special vehicle removes snow and ice:

This vehicle traverses the guideway automatically, applying a de-icing spray

Ethylene Glycol? not very environmental.

The ULTra site also mentions an "open glass reinforced plastic (GRP) grating" that they hope will allow snow, ice and the de-icing fluid to rain down onto pedestrians, autos and other property below.

And how reliable are the ULTra pod's batteries in Minnesota's sub-freezing temperatures?

Faster, better, cheaper? I don't think so.

Recent Pod Flops and Fiascos:

Would-Be PRT Vendor "Preparing a Citizen Suit" Against the State of Minnesota

Petulant PRT promoters acting up again.

Skytran in Detroit? Meet Skytran CEO.

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. Convicted felon is spokesman for the CPRT.

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 (not a true PRT system) 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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