Saturday, December 24, 2011

Shareholder: Taxi 2000 Corporation is "Moribund"

Fridley Patch - "Is Fridley Company the Future of Transit or 'Moribund'?"

Michael Andregg, a geneticist who teaches at the University of St. Thomas, was an early investor in Taxi 2000.

“I didn’t put money into it as an investment,” he said. “I put money into it as an investment into a visionary company.”

Andregg is still hopeful about the future of PRT, but since Taxi 2000’s founder, J. Edward Anderson, left in 2005 and the company’s new leadership sued him for retaining proprietary information, Andregg said he has seen minimal efforts on the part of the company to reach out to shareholders and he considers the company’s promise to be lost.

“They exist but they’re kind of moribund in Fridley,” he said. “I don’t pay any attention to Taxi 2000.”

This "moribund" company tried to get local, state and federal money for a testing facility in 2010 in Winona.

The PRT-promoting Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) has a newly revamped website that does not list Taxi 2000 as a vendor

Taxi 2000 does appear in a lesser category "testing" on another page.

Other recent posts about Taxi 2000:

Taxi 2000 Corporation Spent Nearly $80K Since 2004 Lobbying in Minnesota

Bachmann's Pal Pod Lobbyist Edwin Cain Lobbied for Shady Veterans Charity

3 Proposed PRT Projects, 6 PRT Companies and 2 PRT Lobbyists in Minnesota

Monday, December 19, 2011

Timid, CYA Response by the Personal Rapid Transit "Industry" to Dubious PRT Systems and Companies Seeking Public and Private $$$

When an entire "industry" is based in whole or part on misrepresentation of facts as would-be PRT vendors have done for decades, how can they possibly rein in PRT companies that are at best questionable. The attempt by some PRT aficionados to differentiate reality from fantasy in the marketing of PRT seems to be at the heart of the recent dispute on their forum.

Nathan "Making the world safe for Personal Rapid Transit" Koren, formerly an ULTra employee who who worked on the Amritsar pod project that recently sparked protests by shopkeepers, has drawn a timid line in the sand:

...In my view, it's perfectly appropriate for PRT developers to make PowerPoint-based pitches to venture capital /
institutional investors, for the purposes of securing additional R&D funding -- but if you're going to pitch to campuses or (especially) governments, then you need to have already demonstrated that you can build and operate the hardware that you say you can.

This line Koren is drawing in the sand would likely put ULTra, Vectus and 2GetThere, with small demonstration podcar projects (not truly PRT) on one side of the line and and scores of fantasy PRT systems without much more than a model or computer-created visuals and videos on the other side of the line. But how will the PRT "industry" enforce this wimpy edict? Without robust vetting and due diligence, just one fraudulent PRT company could ruin the chances for the other companies.

The PRT-promoting Advanced Transit Association has revamped their website (with the mushiest definition of PRT ever). On the "Vendors" page there are only three vendors listed. Taxi 2000, Skytran, Jpods, PRT International, Maglev Movers and more are not listed. This is what ATRA says:

When considering advanced transit systems it should be clear what capabilities have been proven today and what potential a system has towards the (long term) future. ATRA represents both: providing a platform for all who share its vision towards the future, while uniting corporate members with proven experience and applications in the industry.

The corporate members of ATRA are parties active in the various disciplines within the field of advanced transit. The vendors that are corporate members are listed below ( ULTra, Vectus, 2getthere).

On the "History" page Taxi 2000 is mentioned only once and does not have a link to its website. ULTra, Vectus, 2getthere have links. Skytran is not mentioned, nor is Jpods. J. Edward Anderson is mentioned only once and his company PRT International gets no link or mention. On the "Systems" page Taxi 2000. Jpods and Skytran are relegated to lesser categories ("Conceptual", "Testing") and do not have links to their websites. It will be interesting to see how these new distinctions will effect efforts to shovel more taxpayers' dollars to PRT consultants and vendors who are NOT on ATRA's preferred vendor list.

Also, some advice to PRT promoters; posting a bunch of tweets when you suspect something fishy is going on is not due diligence, at best it's CYA.

UPDATE: More about Maglev Movers via Seattle PRT promoter David Gow:

Cockroft has unsavory incidents in his background. He had a business run-in with the law in Cyprus, which deported him in 2001. In 2003 the deportation was upheld by the Cyprus Supreme Court:

I think David Gow has enough there for ATRA and other's in the PRT "industry" to notify the authorities, will they? Or will they just continue to CYA?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Interesting New Personal Rapid Transit Vendor - Maglev Movers

I always say that Personal Rapid Transit promoters are either crackpots, con men or crooks. It will be interesting to see which category Maglev Movers falls into.

On another website, the Maglev Movers describe an interesting finance package utilizing a "nonrecourse loan":

A loan in which the lender cannot claim more than the collateral as repayment in the event that payments on the loan are stopped. Thus, a group of investors may purchase an asset with a down payment and the proceeds from a nonrecourse loan. In the event that the investment turns sour, the investors are not apt to lose more than the down payment and payments already made on the loan. The unpaid balance on the loan will be absorbed by the lender.

non-recourse loan is secured by some form of collateral, your securities. If there is a default, the borrower keeps the loan proceeds and the lender only claims the collateral. The borrower’s liability is limited to the collateral pledged for the loan. In fact, the borrower has the right to walk away from the loan, can you really call this debt?

With a non-recourse asset based loan, the individual or business entity is not held liable so there is never any effect on your credit record.

Take a look at their contract.

The genius behind Maglev Movers is CEO and prolific tweeter Graham Cockroft. Graham Cockroft also has a Facebook page

A link from his FB page:

Graham CockroftSwingers UK

Hi from sunny Portugal. The owner of the local hotel has engaged me to make it work for the next six months. Its got 30 rooms and is steeped in history. So, I put some feelers out and got myself a company that can supply 30 girls to look after the people who book the rooms. It`ll be a no holds barred and anything goes long weekend, Fri-Mon. If you have an interest and fancy getting away from it all and having your own private concubine-geisha girl and lotsa golf, walks on the beach, good country music and anything goes........we`ll have to talk.

There's an enormous number of Maglev Mover videos, adding to the already enormous amount of PRT videos on You Tube.
Here's one:

UPDATE: Is the guy behind Twitter handle @Cymply also Cymply333?

Update: And he has a partner, y'know, this guy:

UPDATE: Mr. Cockroft emailed me this message:

Kindly remove this statement as this man has no relationship with our company.

Along with that message, is a company address in London - for fun, Google that address. Also on that email was a phone number - I Googled that too and it led, among other interesting places a hilarious editorial opinion piece in the Algarve Daily News that is the typical boilerplate, snake-oil pitch of Personal Rapid Transit hucksters everywhere, One part of it:

A system built with borrowed money may cost around €10 million for every mile BUT after ten miles it pays for itself as people ride it.

Lets look further €500,000 a month x 12 months = €6,000.000 p.a. x 10 years' payments = €60,000,000 x 2 = €120 million in 20 years' time. That's the first ten miles paid for, the rest looks after itself!

Might sound like a lot of money, but don’t we have 10 million people to support this? not 500,000 believe me, this will be paid for and covering the whole of Portugal in 5/10 years creating tons of jobs, cheap travel, millions in tourist tickets ( we will have made taxis obsolete and absorbed them in technology) and all in all bringing us back to prosperity.

Now, the government need to start building this now. it will cost them nothing as lenders will lend and whilst we are at it,, we can create some real wind power as well, another little freebie.............

Oh, and there's a different address for the company (phone and email redacted by me):

Graham Cockroft
Mister Mandate
Mob +351------
Tel. +351- -----

And what's with "Mister Mandate"? Hilarious!

UPDATE: Okay, I got to stop this... but one more link, a forum called Out and About. Here's Mr. "Cymply":

I was a motorhome owner `till last year when I retired and settled down in Portugal. There are 50,000 motorhomers arriving here every year and I can well understand why they come.

I lived for two years on the beach in mine and loved every minute of it. The fishermen at 4 a.m setting off to sea, the smell of the sea and wildlife, its unsurpassed here in Portugal, don`t be surprised if a stork comes to live you whilst your here. Take your bike off the rack and peddle 500 yds and there`ll be at a seafood restaurant, cheap as chips so to speak. So much to see and so little time.

Most motorhomers come to winter here, why? because we don`t have one !!

Its beautiful in winter, like a English spring and autumn all rolled into one.

But the natives have revolted, they want you off the cliff tops and into the campsites where they can charge you extortionate fees. They want you out of the municipal car parks and under control. They want your money as they class you as none paying guests.

This last month they declared war and decided to clamp you after seven o`clock if you are not on a camp site by that time, trouble is you`ll have a job finding something that you`ll like.

Personally, I never did like paying to park, my Hobby 750 set me back 55k with extras so I believe I have the same rights as a park where I like as long as its legal.

The Algarve is a paradise for us guys, we really ought to do something about need to even think of fighting the system, there isn`t one............anybody out there with ideas, your welcome.


One response to that post:

Hi Cymply - welcome.

I must admit though, that you, and others, appear to have brought this on yourselves - staying for TWO YEARS on the same beach is absolutely shameful in my view! How on earth would you feel if you were one of the residents ... it's people who outstay their welcome that have caused the horrendous problems that some areas are experiencing. Those of us who are at places for one or, at the very most, two nights, being careful where we park so as not to offend people, and act responsibly, are the ones who lose out because of the actions of people like you.

I'm sorry if that offends you, but it is my honest opinion.

There's more responses along those lines.

Business Traveller Tweets Complaints About ULTra Pods at Heathrow

As I've reported before, the so-called ULTra PRT (not a real PRT system) is using Twitter to evaluate it's fledgling demonstration project at Heathrow Airport. Most of the tweets re-tweeted at ULTra's page on Twitter have an uncanny similarity; effusive praise, many exclamation marks, references to science fiction movies, most reading very much like the usual pre-fabricatred PRT puffery we've come to expect over the years. For example:

On the Heathrow T5 pod from business parking. V 2001 Space Odyssey!

Sometimes, reality peeks through the clouds of hype:

business parking Rapid Transit system was a bit of a joke. Queues, slow and laughably advertised for 5. Seriously? I had to crouch on floor.

Used T5 business parking this morning. Seriously - a joke. The rapid pod system is anything but. Queues, slow and not designed for business!

@----- yep. Very disappointing. Too slow to get pods to stations. Q. Too small Windows. Two large escape hatches block view.

Used T5 business parking this morning. Seriously - a joke. The rapid pod system is anything but. Queues, slow and not designed for business!

ULTra is using the supposed "success" of the Heathrow pods to market their product in Minnesota and in India and elsewhere. Before they risk any further investment in PRT, public officials and investors should perform due diligence and insist on an independent evaluation of the Heathrow pods by a transit experts.

Read also:

"Article Predicts Personal Rapid Transit Will Take Business Away From Taxis and Rickshaws in Amritsar"

"Shopkeepers in India Are Fasting in Protest Against the Personal Rapid Transit Boondoggle"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Article Predicts Personal Rapid Transit Will Take Business Away From Taxis and Rickshaws in Amritsar

Tuesday, I posted "Shopkeepers in India Are Fasting in Protest Against the Personal Rapid Transit Boondoggle". It's not just shopkeepers who have to worry about losing their livelihoods to the elevated pods.

Projects Monitor:

In India, the ULTra system can be optimised by offering cheaper tickets on a seat-by-seat basis with ride sharing, and premium tickets which cover the cost of an entire vehicle. ULTra fares will be competitive with fares charged by taxis and autorickshaws, which are currently the main form of short-range urban transport. These different options allow the same ULTra infrastructure to simultaneously function as a lowcost, high-capacity people mover, and as a premium taxi service.

The article doesn't say what will happen to all the taxi drivers and rickshaw operators who will be put out of business. The article goes on to applaud the predicted "shift" in revenue from locally owned rickshaws and taxis to an automated system operated by a UK-based corporation:

There could also be a shift towards PRT from other road intensive transportation. Every day in Amritsar nearly one lakh pilgrims and tourists visit the Golden Temple, and they mostly depend on rickshaws or autorickshaws. Reduced congestion on the ground will even enable these transport systems to work more efficiently with enhanced revenues accruing to the operators.

"The Personal Rapid Transit system is a high-capacity system which is projected to make approximately 14 million passenger trips to the Golden Temple on a daily basis. The cost of the Amritsar project could be nearly 250 crore and is to be taken up in public-private partnership.

Operating as a "public-private partnership"? The citizens of Amritsar really need to read the fine print regarding that. Given that this project is projected to be the "World’s first and largest urban PRT system", Amritsar could be on the hook if this project collided with reality like PRT projects in the past.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Shopkeepers in India Are Fasting in Protest Against the Personal Rapid Transit Boondoggle

Crossposted at Dump Bachmann

Yesterday, I posted about the pods of Fridley. Bachmann authored legislation for and promoted the Personal Rapid Transit back in 2004. As the pod hucksters have pissed off one city after another in Europe and America, the would-be vendors of pods are exporting their phony flim-flam to Asia. The following photo and article is from the India Tribune:

The traders fear that the 20-feet high track of magnetic pods will adversely affect their business. The traders sat on a dharna and raised slogans against the government’s decision, which they alleged is aimed at gaining cheap publicity.

Sukhbir Singh Badal denied any opposition to the project as the local authorities had invited views from all quarters before finalising the project. The traders resent that with the introduction of magnetic pods, their clientele will have direct access to the Golden Temple without halting at the market to shop. This will affect hundreds of shops in the area.

“The tourists are our main clientele. Now, they will move directly to the Golden Temple and will not get a chance to feel the true essence of the trade practices in city. This mode of transport will defy the basic character of the city,” said Nirmal Singh, a trader.



Sukhbir lays foundation stone of Pod system amidst protest

Amidst protest, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday laid the foundation stone of Rs 300 crore Personal Rapid Transport (PRT) Pod car transportation system in Amritsar, which once completed, would make the Holy City only the second in the world after London to have such transport facility.

Actually, the pod system is at an airport since September and with only two stops and no elevated stations, it can hardly called a working PRT system. No PRT system has successfully operated in revenue service anywhere. The battery-powered, glorified golf carts have not been tested in an extremely hot or cold climate and yet it's been proposed for India and Minnesota,

Shopkeepers apprehend that the system would adversely hit their business.

The foundation stone was laid outside the Hall Gate where shopkeepers raised anti-government slogans and staged dharnas.

A dharna is "a fast held at the door of an offender in India as an appeal for justice."

Not the first time, pRT has provoked a mass protest, read; "Pod Off! Residents oppose Daventry PRT scheme".

This pod project will, no doubt fail to materialize like scores of other doomed pod projects. If it did, it would be a hideous visual scar on the historic city:


Monday, December 5, 2011

Personal Rapid Transit Developer Declares Skytran a "Sham"

UPDATE: PRT gets a swift kick in the pants at the Gondola Project blog:

The fundamental logic behind PRT is quite simply flawed with most advocates of the technology blind to the economic and technological limitations of it. But that doesn’t prevent it from being continually trotted out as transportation messiah.

Read on...

Last week I reported on the pod promoters circular firing squad, now another pod promoter has entered the fray.

Katie Fehrenbacher reports on the latest PRT boondoggle to go belly-up. What's different about this gadgetbahn debacle is it was killed on the drawing board by its own inventor:

The founder of, Aaron Patzer, has been researching alternative urban transportation under a company called Swift over the past six months, but he has determined that the personal maglev system he had been envisioning is economically not viable for a company to produce. Patzer described all of his findings and development in a blog post (hat tip to Tech Crunch), including the high economics of such a transportation network.

In the end Patzer concludes what Vukan Vuchic, Michael Setty and I have said for years - it's just not feasible.

Patzer says he has abandoned building the project as a company. He calls the failure “fast” and “worthwhile fun” and will be looking for his next venture. He also splits his time as VP of Product Innovation at Intuit, which bought Mint two years ago for $170 million, points out Tech Crunch.

With that kind of dough, Patzer can afford to waste his time on pie-in-the-sky fantasy transport concepts, but not federal, state and local governments. MnDOT commissioner Tom Sorel is rumored to be considering wasting $1.6 million on a PRT study. Sorel should just read Patzer's analysis why PRT is a waste of time.

Not content to deep-six his own flawed concept Patzer goes on to trash Skytran In the comments:

I’ve met with the SkyTran people. In my opinion it’s a sham that’s gone no where in the 15 years they’ve been advocating for it. If you look at their website, they claim things like runs on the power of two hairdryers (let’s say 3kW). Obviously they’ve never done even the basic energy calculations – you burn far more than that in aerodynamic drag at even automobile (100km/hr) speeds, even if you have a perfect drag coefficient (0.06 for a streamlined body), and a cross sectional area of less than 1m^2. They also claim capacities equivalent to 3 lanes of highway. Ridiculous to anyone who’s built a true physics based simulator (as I did with Swift).

For more about Skytran, read:

Meet Jerry Sanders - Personal Rapid Transit & Gynecology Gadget Entrepreneur

Wacky Skytran Pod People Invade Detroit, Australia and Canada

Skytran is featured in this video titled "Phoenix light rail is Trash!":