Thursday, November 15, 2012

No Chance for Personal Rapid Transit Projects to be Funded by the Minnesota Legislature

Elections have consequences; in Minnesota, the last election slams the door on any chance of public funding for  PRT projects (there are a bunch, see below).

Both houses of the Minnesota Legislature are now controlled by the DFL. The MN Senate caucus just announced their choices for committee chairs and Senator Scott Dibble is Chair of the Transportation and Public Safety Division. Here's a quote by Senator Dibble from a 2011 article about PRT:

State Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), who heads the senate’s transit subcommittee, said that he thinks the proponents of PRT are sincere, but he dismissed their plans for implementation as that of “technophiles” who are not interested in examining the ramifications of a PRT line in terms of the overall multi-modal scheme, land use, economic development, mobility, urban form and the environment. 
“There’s this constant refrain, ‘Build PRT everywhere, all your problems will be solved,’ with no acknowledgement that it is a political impossibility and that we would be throwing a bunch of money at something that’s completely unproven with a lot if implications that haven’t been addressed,” Dibble said. “All I ever here from folks is personal-freedom rhetoric about going anywhere and everywhere, but what happens to the urban forest if you’re running these things all over the place.”
In short, PRT is soooo not happening in Minnesota.

Apparently, there are still pod people who hold out hope for PRT in Minnesota -  the ULtra PRT website still has a page up about "PRT Niche Options for Minnesota" and there is the  proposed $100 million pod project in Coon Rapids.

There's a list of Personal Rapid Transit projects in Minnesota on the Google Transport Innoovators forum:

* Coon Rapids for Rob Jacobs,

* Winona and Duluth for Taxi 2000,

* Bill James talked about an effort in New Jersey and a computer campus N. of Duluth,

* I think that Joe Lampe has an edge city to the N. of downtown Minneapolis

* Ed Anderson is quiet, but says that he has some irons in the fire.

List of PRT businesses is from a CPRT brochure (view on Google):

PRT Updates from Minnesota


Hull, MA passed a resolution supporting PRT. JPods expects to lease private land and build the first leg there in the next 4 months. New Jersey is considering declaring performance standards, allowing anyone access to public rights of way that can privately finance transport networks that exceed 120 mpg.

PRT International

Dr. Ed Anderson has been working for many years to acquaint planners and decision makers with the potential of an optimized version of PRT for solving urban transportation problems. He gave a presentation to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority in December 2010. Dr. Anderson works on advising a number of people in various locations around the world on various PRT projects or pending projects. He is willing to give courses on PRT of any desired depth.

PRT Minnesota

PRT Minnesota’s current focus is on preparing a patent submission for their PRT mechanical design. PRT Minnesota is still
seeking funding to complete the technical development program and achieve manufacturing readiness.

PRT Partners

PRT Partners is based in the Minneapolis area and is headed up by Robert Jacobs. PRT Partners assembles teams, technology, and projects that solve specific urban transportation and land use challenges.

Taxi 2000 and Skyweb Express

Currently, Taxi 2000 is working with two financial institutions interested in implementing Skyweb Express projects using a private public partnership agreement. They are also working with corporations for implementing system on corporate campuses. Taxi 2000 continues to work with Winona, Minnesota to build a PRT demonstration and laboratory facility.

Not mentioned is Rob Jacobs' other company Smart Infrastructure which is pitching the pod project for Coon Rapids.

There are two PRT lobbyists - Mark D. Olson for Smart Infrastructure and Edwin Cain for Taxi 2000 Corporation. Taxi 2000 spent nearly $80K since 2004 lobbying in Minnesota.

Suncheon Bay Vectus "PRT" Revealed to NOT be Personal Rapid Transit

The Vectus October update (PDF) has a preview of their much-ballyhooed Suncheon Bay project in Korea.
Station Two is currently under construction and due to be completed by the end of December 2012. Both stations will feature in-line berths, platform screen doors and touch screen passenger information/destination selection facilities.
According to the Wikipedia PRT article which is mostly written by fans of PRT,  offline stations are  a defining characteristic of PRT:
In PRT designs, vehicles are sized for individual or small group travel, typically carrying no more than 3 to 6 passengers per vehicle.[1] Guide ways are arranged in a network topology, with all stations located on sidings, and with frequent merge/diverge points. This approach allows for nonstop, point-to-point travel, bypassing all intermediate stations
So Vectus is just another monorail/people-mover that exist in airports, amusement parks etc. all over the world. Not the revolution in transportation we were promised, not "faster,  cheaper,  better" than conventional transit modes.

And if anyone thinks Vectus can be integrated into a city, take a look at the massive guideways and stations:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Personal Rapid Transit in Amritsar, India: " faces wrath of traders as well as historians"

From Punjab News Express:

The traders feared that the high track of magnetic pods would adversely affect their business. The traders sat on a dharna and raised slogans against the government’s decision. Traders resented that the administration was bent on dislocating the businessmen of the century-old Hall Bazaar and appealed to at least change its route so that the market business would not suffer.

The historians alleged that it would mar the historic structure of the city. The century-old residential buildings, especially those located on the left hand side of the route, was also an obstacle. In view of their weak foundation, there was threat to these structures when six-ft-deep gorges would be dug up to erect pillars for supporting the elevated track.

Amid all these hiccups, the necessary amendments were made in the original model of the project. The root was also changed. But changed root also faced the wrath of traders.

With reports of the state government mulling alternative route for the PRTS project, the members of Rambagh Bazaar Traders Association shut their shops and staged a protest. They warned the government not to take the PRTS route through their market. They even blocked traffic at Gol Hatti Chowk and later at Ram Bagh Chowk few days ago. 
In this way the project is still lying in limbo amidst all these hurdles. Authority sat silent and passing the buck to each other. The shut their mouths saying, that the study of project is in process.
This is reminiscent of the 2009 protests in Daventry:
MORE than 100 Daventry townspeople voiced their opposition to proposals for a pod transport network in the town at a public meeting on Monday night.

Daventry Town Council held its annual town meeting at the Phoenix Centre, off Ashby Road, which gave any resident of the town the chance to ask questions, voice their concerns, or let their opinion be heard.

More than 100 people took the chance, with most of those present angry and upset with Daventry District Council's (DDC's) proposals for a personal rapid transport (PRT) scheme in Daventry (the pod network).
And so the pod scam continues to cause trouble around the globe....

Friday, August 31, 2012

Have the Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit Thrown in the Towel?

UPDATE: Shortly after this post appeared, the website reappeared - however, the dead-enders at CPRT have yet to administer similar life support to their moribund movement in the social media - as of today (9/14/12), the CPRT Facebook page has exactly 17 likes. The last entry is from 2011. Compare that with the Transit for Livable Communities Facebook page with 1,282 likes. I also looked for the CPRT Twitter handle, but that seems to have disappeared. Like everything about PRT, the CPRT as a grassroots movement is a sham.


For many weeks, the website of the Minnesota-based Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit ( has been unavailable. A year ago, the ATRA publication Transit Pulse (PDF) said the following:
It’s a new ballgame for PRT visionaries. There has long been a network of PRT-friendly residents in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Citizens for PRT was established around 1990. It was chartered in 1998 as a non-profit corporation. CPRT activity has waxed and waned, and today is clearly in growth mode. Several Board members tended CPRT’s booth at the annual Living Green Expo this past spring. CPRT was also at the Midwest Energy Fair last month. 
“It’s a whole new ballgame,” reports long-time ATRAmember Dick Gronning. The public ecology Expo was three times larger than last year. It is held at the Minnesota Fair Grounds as a major event in the civic life of the Twin Cities. This year interest in new-generation urban mobility was intense. For the first time ever, staff from Metro Transit visited CPRT’s table. They even stayed a while and talked. Gronning was surprised at how open and helpful Metro Transit was.

The author goes on to admonish "luddites":
Will uninformed union members and leftist bloggers counter CPRT advances in Minnesota? That remains to be seen.
"Leftist bloggers"?

If the CPRT is truly kaput, I doubt the pesky "PRT visionaries" will be missed. Here are old videos showing them pitching the pods at the Living Green Expo and defending convicted felon Dean Zimmermann (2008):

Personal Note:  I began blogging about the PRTistas back in 2004 when they managed to get a pod project included in the MN House bonding bill. I think it's safe to say, with the CPRT's exit from the public stage, state and local government in Minnesota will no longer consider wasting taxpayers' money on PRT. The pod boondoggle and allied "gadgetbahn" flim flams will surface from time to time elsewhere, but here in the Twin Cities, the public has lost interest in pie-in-the-sky transport schemes as our modern transit system takes shape. Unless the pod people make a comeback here, I doubt I will continue to add posts to this blog. I will keep this blog in mothballs for research purposes.

The future of reality-based transit in Minnesota is looking good. Here is a video showing what Minnesotans can expect in 2014:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

VIDEO: Heathrow T5 Personal Rapid Transit Pod Customer Service: " Truly Shameless"

Pod promoters always downplay the possibility of failures for PRT. The fact is failure can happen with any mechanical system. What is especially terrifying for a passenger is to experience a failure without any human available to explain what is going on.

This happened recently to a passenger on the over-hyped ULTra pod and recounted in a blog post titled "BAA Heathrow T5 Parking Pod failure - No face for BAA Customer Services here":

This is a failure of the Heathrow T5 Business Parking Pod system where you pay premium parking rates. 
Its not bad that it failed, because these things do fail, what was worse was that they refused to send anybody down for the 20 minutes it was out of order.  
We had to listen to a voice hiding behind the screen, who after a while stopped picking up the help phone also.  
This is Customer Services which is truly shameless. It was 9.30pm, totally dark but BAA Heathrow refused to send any person down to assist or help calm passengers - they even stopped responding to the support telephone also.

Read the whole thing.

Here's the video:

Meanwhile in West Virginia, that other uber-hyped, so-called PRT system continues to cause headaches for its passengers:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Another Failing Grade for Personal Rapid Transit

A memo from Los Angeles County compared PRT to other modes (PDF). The conclusion:
With the technical data currently available, PRT (as a lower capacity, on-demand version of APM) has limited applicability for connecting the regional transit system and LAX, the primary market under study for the Airport Metro Connector.
This is in addition to the memo from a San Jose city official that stated the conclusion of a $1.8 million study that Automated Transit Network (AKA podcars, PRT) was infeasible. In another post I reported that the Minnesota Department of Transportation was not going to go ahead on a $1.4 million PRT study recommended by the University of Minnesota's Center For Transportation Studies.

Although the PRT concept has been around for half a century, the PRT vendors are still not ready for prime time. No doubt the pod people will cry foul and claim the process was rigged. But, as I have noted before, would-be PRT vendors sabotage their own chances of selling their systems by not providing necessary info:
The amount of data available to support rigorous transit planning efforts, as is required for developing a regional transit connection to LAX,is still very limited. Key factors for evaluation are capital and operating costs, vehicle and guideway specifications, operating characteristics, maintenance facility requirements, and capacity and operating speeds. In June 2011, we met with ULTra, the company that developed the Heathrow PRT system, to gather information and to discuss what data were available to support evaluation during the AA. We were able to obtain some information from the Heathrow project given that it began operation later that year in September, but much of the data on modern systems are still preliminary with some information proprietary.
The reason is PRT vendors don't try harder is that PRT is more useful to promoters as an wedge issue to delay or stop funding for conventional transit.

For many years, Personal Rapid Transit promoters have claimed that PRT was faster, better, cheaper than conventional transit. They also claimed the PRT "technology" was available now for implementation in urban areas. They were lying - what they really had to offer was small-scale demonstration projects that could hardly scale up to a city-wide system. Their much-hyped PRT "success" story, the battery-powered podcars at Heathrow and Masdar have failed to be considered for far more simple applications as airport connectors.

How many more studies do we need to restate the obvious? - PRT is an infeasible boondoggle. Here's an ancient, hilarious PRT promotional video with pod hucksters attacking conventional transit modes as "old fashioned":


 Where is the Taxi 2000 Corporation today? It's still in Fridley, MN and it's "moribund".

Saturday, May 5, 2012

No MnDOT Study of Personal Rapid Transit

In the previous post, I posted a link to a memo from a San Jose city official that stated the conclusion of a $1.8 million study that Automated Transit Network (AKA podcars, PRT) was infeasible. A while back, the University of Minnesota's Center For Transportation Studies wanted MnDOT to waste $1.4 million on PRT study, but an MnDOT spokesperson has said they won't do it.

In other Minnesota pod news, the Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit (CPRT) were a no-show at the Living Green Expo.

Also, fugitive U.S. Navy Vets scamster Bobby Thompson was apprehended in Oregon.Interesting to see if he can explain why he hired pod lobbyist Ed Cain to be his lobbyist in Virginia. Here's the mugshot:


Friday, May 4, 2012

City of San Jose Memo: Personal Rapid Transit is Not Technically Feasible

As is always the case with PRT projects - they begin with a lot of hype and hoopla and end with a whimper. A memo from Hans Larsen, the Director of Transportation for the City of San Jose about a proposed Automated Transit Network (AKA podcars, PRT) at the San Jose Mineta International Airport titled ATN FEASIBILITY STUDY STATUS REPORT (PDF) has the following conclusions:
• The complexity and service requirements ofthe Airport ATN project exceed the technical capacity of the ATN systems currently available. 
• There is no established regulatory process to support the construction of an ATN in the United States. This complicates efforts to accurately estimate the cost of building and operating an ATN system. 
• The estimated cost of building the Airport ATN is less than building the APM preferred alignment, plus the ATN offers a higher level o f service and greater coverage. 
• The estimated cost of operating the Airport ATN is comparable to the existing expenses of the Airport and VTA to operate shuttle buses on the Airport and between the Airport and the transit stations
The memo affirms what experts have been saying for years. Here's a Vukan Vuchic quote from Michael Setty's white paper on PRT in Winona (PDF):
The main reason for such absence of any progress in implementing PRT is simple: the basic concept of PRT is inherently unsound. It combines small vehicles, ideal for low density travel, with complicated, electronically controlled guideways that are feasible only for heavily traveled routes. Consequently, in suburban areas where carrying two to six persons would be optimal, construction of guideways is economically infeasible; on major arterials, where large passenger volumes might justify the construction of guideways, small vehicles are highly inefficient and cannot provide the required capacity. Consequently, the combination of the two features–small vehicle and complicated guideway– is paradoxical and makes the PRT mode impractical under all conditions. 
How is it possible that this concept should attract so much interest and even government support for development in several countries? The explanation lies in the fact that the positive features of PRT are often exaggerated while the negative ones are overlooked. Thus, although it is true that PRT resembles the positive characteristics of the automobile more than any other transit mode, it is also true that due to this similarity PRT has the severe limitations of auto use in urban areas: low capacity, very high cost and energy consumption per space-km, and extremely large space requirements for stations, guideway interchanges, and vehicle storage areas. Aerial guideways and stations, in urban streets would be highly objectionable, not even considering the legal requirement for accessibility by the disabled.
These basic problems with the PRT concept were also part of the verdict of the $625,000 2001 OKI Central Loop study. And now after San Jose wasted an additional $1.8 million to study the PRT, they've concluded the PRT concept is too complex and expensive even for an airport (the Heathrow pod shuttle, a loop with only two stations neither of them stand-alone and elevated is not a true PRT). Already, the PRTistas at the Transport Innovators forum are howling with indignation. A quote from Would-be PRT inventor Jack Slade:
"What a lot of bullshit!! You have to build a "Regulatory System" before you can build anything? Are you really talking about the Land of the Free? People who think like this should be deported before they contaminate the rest of the population. I could pick other holes in their "Conclusions"....most of them are wrong....but it isn't worth it.
The ultra-Republican PRT consultant and Fountain Valley Patch contributor Roy Reynolds chimes in, blaming the librul Democrats (of course):
What else should we have expected from a broke and broken Democrat city government /steeped/ in liberal bureaucracy and dedicated to the green technology that Obama thinks is going to save our economy? *Green *was one of their original goals for this project and I'll bet was unmentioned in this memo because, like Solyndra, they couldn't force it to succeed. Needing to have a "Regulatory System" says, in two *perfectly *chosen words, what these people are all about -- that is, regulation, allegiance to AlGore and his climate chicanery, and more government. They couldn't decide (and couldn't afford it anyway since the public employee unions have taken all their money) after spending millions on consultants who couldn't spell PRT before bidding on this project, so they defer it to the Feds. The public and the market seemed to have been completely cut out of this process...
The PRTists begin waxing nostalgic over the halcyon Richard Nixon era and the Morgantown boondoggle. The Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit's Dick Gronning has this observation:
While this shows some of the good side of Republican thinking (there's more), the bad side of the picture was that the Nixon administration threw scads of money at the project without any supervision. Nixon did the same thing with Affirmative Action. His administration REMOVED all of the constraints and supervision for Affirmative Action and threw even MORE $$$ into it. The policy seems to convey the message that human-kind is basically good. It doesn't work for me. Worse yet, there's the assumption that only a certain group have ethics.
Uh, okaaaaay.... speaking of angry, bitter, old, people, the CPRT does not appear on the list of transportation exhibitors at the Living Green Expo this year. Here's a video of their dyspeptic style from a few years back:


Friday, March 30, 2012

Seattle Transportation Reporter Not Reporting His Opposition to Recent Seattle Personal Rapid Transit Proposal

Not reporting on it, but quietly whispering his opposition on his personal blog.

David Gow, the Seattle transportation reporter at has not reported on the recent proposal by the Century Transportation Authority for an PRT Project for Seattle (reported HERE, HERE and HERE). David Gow wrote a 6-part "primer" on podcars (PRT) for including this article about PRT in Seattle.

David Gow has several websites promoting Personal Rapid Transit. The Seattle "Get There Fast" PRT website - seems to be slow in reporting on the new proposal for PRT in David Gow's backyard. The news page at Gow's "kinetic" PRT website is also silent about the CTA PRT Seattle project.

The moribund Seattle PRT forum is also silent on the new development.

However, David Gow is quietly attacking the Seattle CTA PRT proposal on one of his many blogs called "This Week in Precipitation" in a March 24, 2012 post titled "Not another agency":

I have been aware for a few months that this organization -- 'CenTran' -- has been in the works. However I had been under the impression what it's about is Son Of Green Line.

Instead, it looks like they're intending a 16-mile monorail+PRT (pod transit) system in the West Seattle to Ballard corridors.

Gow goes on to address the pod aspect of the plan:

However, there are a number of practical issues here. By the time we are ready to do a technology screening (let alone select a design for installation), will these vendors be ready to deliver and operate what could be the largest pod system to date? Will their systems be sufficiently proven in regular operation?

Most of all, I personally object to this local effort being mounted by a small group, out of the public eye, creating yet another transit bureaucracy.

If PRT is going to be done here, it needs to be part of the existing decisionmaking structure. It needs to be done by Seattle or King County, or even Sound Transit. The latter had planned to do a PRT project as part of the Link program ( ), but the expected Raytheon PRT program was cancelled.

Raytheon? Gow is citing ancient history - from the last century. Sound Transit has no current plans for PRT.

Gow then wades into the recent pod people controversy about which imaginary pod concepts should be promoted by ATRA and even how PRT is defined.

I have misgivings that High Capacity corridor service might be too much too soon for a flavor of PRT (HCPRT) that hasn't yet been implemented, anywhere.

Apparently, Gow doesn't have any faith in J. Edward Anderson's PRT International, the would-be PRT vendor mentioned in the CTA proposal (CTA board member Jake Solomon is Manager of Marketing and Business Development at PRT International) . It seems that ATRA doesn't have any faith in PRT International's ability to deliver the goods either, leaving PRT International off its preferred member/vendor page and relegating J.E. Anderson's Fridley company to a lower tier "conceptual" category.

Gow concludes that the problem with the CTA pod/monorail plan is really institutional:

It's OK to hypothesize something that ambitious. But set up a whole new bureaucracy? Really?

Furthermore, local planning for circulation PRT and collector-distributor PRT have been done in SeaTac and Issaquah. We should look first at those service niches.

Will David Gow report his opposition to the Seattle monorail/PRT project at or his PRT promoting websites?


UPDATE: David Gow has finally acknowledged the existence of the PRT proposal for his city on his Get There Fast website's news page, with this comment:

Get There Fast takes no position on this proposal.

Also read: Pod People & Monorail Fans Join Forces in Seattle.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pod People & Monorail Fans Join Forces in Seattle

Way back in 2005, the Seattle Post Intelligencer published my opinion piece about Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) titled "Personal transit still a techno-dream". Eight years later the techno-dream is still alive - this from the Century Transportation Authority website:

Creating a transportation system that utilizes train cars running on a guideway, together with the necessary passenger stations, terminals, parking facilities, related facilities or other properties and facilities necessary for the system - including passenger and vehicular access to and from people-moving systems such as High Capacity Personal Rapid Transit (HCPRT) that has multiple off-line stations to collect and distribute riders to and from the monorail system, including fixed guideway light rail systems (which include any tram and trolley systems such as the waterfront trolley or the streetcar in the South Lake Union area of the city, and high capacity personal rapid transit.)

This is the PRT plan (PDF):

UPDATE: Jake Solomon is on the board of CenTran:

Jake is an entrepreneur businessman passionate about advancing mobile technology and mobile marketing services. He also is a strong proponent of high capacity personal rapid transit (HCPRT), as a "Green" 21st Century efficient and cost effective transportation solution.

Since 2001, Jake has been involved in political and community work related to City of Seattle, King County and Washington State government, advocating for cost effective transportation solutions and for "transportation legislation" that advances 21st Century transportation systems that are suitable for urban environments.

Education: Central Washington State University
Bachelor of Arts Business Administration
University of Washington
Bachelor of Science Forestry


Jake Solomon has a Fridley, Minnesota pod connection - PRT International - J.E. Anderson's would-be PRT vendor PRT International:

In January 2005, he found it necessary to resign from Taxi 2000 Corporation and soon, with two other of its Board Members, founded PRT International, LLC through which he has developed from basic principles and available public-domain material a PRT system under the name “Intelligent Transportation Network System (ITNS),” which was coined by his Manager of Marketing and Business Development, Jake Solomon. He continues the challenging task of determining how to fully commercialize ITNS.

Recent article about that other Fridley, Minnesota would-be pod provider Taxi 2000 in the Fridley Patch.

Jake's been involved the Seattle monorail fiasco of the previous decade:

In the past few months, however, the idea of a freeway monorail system has been resurrected by a half-dozen advocates who are running a Web site, meeting in cafes and lobbying political and business officials about the reasons to construct a regional monorail along I-5, from Everett to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

“Our system is a trunk-line system,” says Jake Solomon, outreach coordinator for the Freeway Monorail group. “We want it to be a high-speed — I’m talking 60, 70 miles per hour — mass rapid-transit system connecting the cities of Puget Sound.”

Freeway-monorail advocates seek to answer a question on the minds of many taxpayers these days: What would happen if the $2.1 billion required to build a downtown-to-Tukwila light-rail line and the $1.7 billion for a Ballard-to-West Seattle monorail were combined to assemble a really, really long transit line?

However, there is not much political clout, and no funding source, for freeway monorail.

Advocates are banking on a collapse of Sound Transit’s light-rail plan, and after the apocalypse, freeway monorail would fill the void. “We have to kill Sound Transit,” says Solomon. Well, not actually kill it, but pack the Sound Transit board with monorail sympathizers, or force the agency to study the freeway monorail plan in depth, he explains.

As I always say, PRT and other gadgetbahn concepts are often used as monkey wrenches to stop, delay or defund reality-based transit - for more about this, see this post: Personal Rapid Transit Has Always Been a Bogus Excuse to Defund Rail Transit

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Personal Rapid Transit in India Not Happening

Another much-ballyhooed PRT project fizzles - Times of India:

JAIPUR: The possibilities of Pink City witnessing a new mode of public transport in the form of Personal Rapid Transit System (PRTS) seem to be dim. Reason -- the company that had earlier given a presentation of the project, has now asked the state government to first sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) before it submits a feasibility report on the project.

According to official sources, the state government has refused to do so as all such projects have a certain procedure where it first looks into the feasibility report and then invites tenders. "As per the norms MoU cannot be signed with a single firm directly as objection can be raised that the project is awarded to benefit a particular company." said an official source. He added, "Still, we have asked the company to submit the feasibility report. If they submit it we will consider the project. It was never mandatory for the firm to submit a feasibility report."

Well, there will always be China:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

PRT Promoter Compares Politicians Skeptical of Personal Rapid Transit to Hitler

On the Transport Innovators forum, PRT advisor and CPRT board member Dick Gronning tried to make the case for using a scale model of a pod system to convince people PRT could be feasible:

It would have to look and act like a real PRT system. If it had features like a number of systems, we wouldn't be promoting just one system. Set up in a mall, it would certainly draw attention. Politicians couldn't say that it wouldn't work.

The ever-klassy Jack Slade, would-be PRT vendor responded with this comment:

Politicians couldn't say it won't work? Of course they will. Politicians will say anything stupid that serves their purpose. They learned a trick from "Mein Kampf".....namely, "if I tell a lie, tell it often and loud enough, eventually 85% of the people accept it as true". Not an exact quote, but close enough.

Keep it Klassy PRT dudes!

My favorite Jack Slade quote from the Transport Innovators forum:

I have always thought that Avodor was being paid by somebody to "prove" that PRT won't work, and now we know.

The very fact that he thinks Morgantown is PRT shows how little he actually knows, and that statements like "all PRT systems to date have been failures" shows that also. Here is a message from me to him:

Hey, Stupid, there have not been any PRT systems actually tried, so how can they be failures? The first is being tested now at Heathrow, and first reports indicate that it will be a success. Aren't you going to have a lot of Crow to eat when it begins to spread elsewhere? Who is going to pay you anything afterwards? Maybe you can get a job cleaning toilets somewhere.

Jack Slade

Here's Klassy Jack's PRT model:

Minneapolis Community Leader and Taxi 2000 Shareholder Still Promoting Personal Rapid Transit

Sarah Sponheim, President of the East Calhoun Community Organization, daughter of the late Taxi 2000 CEO A. Sheffer "Shef" Lang and scion of Theodore Hamm, founder of the Hamm’s Brewery has an interview in the Hill & Lake Press this month (PDF). Sponheim talks mostly about the many laudable environmental community-based projects she works on, but at the end of the interview, the specter of PRT rears its ugly head:

On another subject, what is Personal Rapid Transit and why are you an advocate for it?

I inherited an interest in a local Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) company called Taxi 2000 when my father died in 2003. I served on the board of Taxi 2000 for four years and maintain the conviction that this form of elevated public transit in small, automated vehicles could effectively replace automobile use in numerous applications. I believe PRT has global potential to slash transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

On her blog, Sponheim stated the following:

On a bigger front, I will promote Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) through a letter-writing campaign to business-people and legislators. It is high-time this inherently green transit technology got off the ground.

In the last few years, it seems there's been an effort by a few of the original shareholders in the Taxi 2000 Corporation to once again promote PRT in Minnesota. But, there's been a lot of water under the bridge since 2004 when a PRT bill managed to get attached to an omnibus bonding bill in the Minnesota House. PRT was later stripped from the bill in committee. Since then, the Taxi 200) Corporation has tried and tried again to get taxpayers to fund a testing facility, most recently in Winona and failed (more of the dismal history of Taxi 2000 here.).

In a recent article in the Fridley Patch, another more realistic shareholder had this to say about Taxi 2000:

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

Since 2004, the Hiawatha Light Rail that Sheffer Lang and other PRT advocates at the time vehemently opposed has proven to be a phenomenal success. LRT, streetcars and commuter rail projects like Northstar and other reality-based transit initiatives need the support of environmentalists and community activists like Sarah Sponheim. I encourage Sarah Sponheim to learn more by going to the Transit for Livable Communities website (TLC does not support public funding for PRT).

Perhaps, after Sarah Sponheim educates herself about reality-based transit she may look into the idea of restoring the route of the streetcar line that once existed in her neighborhood. It would connect Linden Hills to Uptown with the existing, legacy streetcar line.

And why would Sarah Sponheim want to be a part of the anti-LRT, pro-PRT bunch like this guy?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Will Cardiff, Wales Fall for Another Gadgetbahn Flim Flam?

Years ago, Personal Rapid Transit was supposed to debut in Cardiff, Wales.. but, they backed off when reality set in.

Seems they haven't learned their lesson:

An advanced railway could soon be whisking passengers from the centre of Cardiff to the Bay – over the heads of people walking below.

Plans for an elevated railway were discussed yesterday by representatives of Cardiff City Council and Monometro, a Blackwood-based company that has developed the state of the art system with the help of Saudi investors.

A little Googling came up with this:

Digging into MonoMetro finds a couple of things – it’s run by a bloke called Gareth Pearce, from Blackwood, Caerphilly, Wales. It’s, so far as I can tell, not been built anywhere yet, although there are stories of Saudi interest leading to a scheme in Mecca opening in 2012. There’s a lot of accusations that TfL and the Government have deliberatly ignored the scheme, including a comment...

The comment quoted in the blog:

The enire London MonoMetro project, painstakingly planned and meticulously designed through cooperation across a raft of private UK and US companies, it took ten years of effort. And while MonoMetro stands as a magnificant transport achievement it has been resisted since 2001 by the politburo style Transport for London, backed by the Stalinist Mayor Ken Livingstone.

The blog goes one with a look at the Wikipedia article on MonoMetro (go to the blog to follow the links):

Mr. Pearce, who I’m sure is a lovely fellow really, is mentioned in less than glowing terms here and here.

I then had a quick look at Wikipedia’s entry on the MonoMetro scheme, and the page reads like a mixture of advertising and complaints about the treatment of the scheme by the Government and ‘orrible old Ken, neither of which is exactly in keeping with Wikipedia’s neutral tone rules. In fact, comparing revisions here and here shows exactly what happened; a user from IP greatly enlarged the previously perfectly acceptable article on the 15th December 2007, in two editing sessions. The revised article subsequently got marked for style cleanup in June 2008, but nothing’s happened since apart from some minor edits, including one by London transport-and-other-stuff blogger D-Notice (at least, I presume it’s him), who, I note deliciously, has also been doing man’s work on Andrew Gilligan’s page.

Looking at IP, I see that he made one further edit immediately after his 15/12/2007 marathon, which was on the page for … Blackwood, Caerphilly, birthplace of Gareth Pearce. The edit added an unexplained link to, which, so far as I can see, doesn’t have a great deal of relevance to Blackwood, Caerphilly other than that the founder was born there. This was duly deleted as linkspam on 11/2/2008.

So, we have an apparent irascible Ken-hating architect with a new transport system to sell, who was told to stuff it by TfL and hasn’t been taking it lying down. He gets two favourable articles on LondonUnlocked, then *someone* rewrites the Wikipedia page on MonoMetro to render it a biased mess, adding a link to the system’s website to Pearce’s home town’s page to round it off.

The blog has some great observations about gadgetbahn, read the whole thing.

For more hilarious UK gadgetbahn flim-flammery read my post about Maglev Movers.

For laffs, read this bizarre screed from Gareth Pearce circa 2005 - here's a quote:

The Mayor of London and some GLA members have made statements that TfL carried out assessment of MonoMetro. Other GLA members have questioned the Mayor requesting a copy of TfL's alleged assessment. TfL in response further dismiss MonoMetro sLRT making no disclosure of any assessment material. In the national press TfL continue to make statements that MonoMetro sLRT is "an anorak's dream" with further statements of misinformation to the GLA that MonoMetro sLRT is unworkable, cannot be introduced into the urban environment and that MonoMetro Limited have no technical expertise. These statements have had a deeply damaging influence on the perception of MonoMetro from other regional authorities in the United Kingdom. Glasgow City Council terminated their assessment of MonoMetro for a city wide network because of adverse opinion publicised by TfL. A study requested by Thames Gateway was abandoned because of the biased opinion of TfL and while Portsmouth City Council commissioned MonoMetro to undertake a study for an urban network which was carried out and delivered they withdrew because of the adverse statements by TfL taken as authority. By contrast MonoMetro sLRT is the preferred technology for a 38 mile project in the United States and is being assessed by the French Government for urban implementation.

For more laffs, watch this video about the Monometro:

UPDATE: Jerry Schneider posted a hilarious letter from Gareth on the PRT-pod-loving Transport Innovators forum:

Jerry ,

We have made good progress with Cardiff City Council agreeing the most difficult part of the route. There are elections in May so the outline planning has to be held back till then but planning has agreed to work through all the necessay difficulties with us so that outline planning will be a foregone conclusion. The environmental assessment can also be submitted at outline planning stage. It's a two stage process outline first and full planning some time later maybe a year, in time to start construction on site.

We have two potential investors wanting to buy the entire £122mm Private Debenture shares with a 5% stock option. Its a bit of a frenzied fight.

I think its very important we complete the development of MonoMetro, the world needs it now. Its a simple railway and no technology to worry about. New system old technology. Metal to metal wheel rail interface proven in bearings applications, rolled rail section where the rolling "patch" contact geometry renders such an effectively low rolling point load that threshold of excitation leading to Hysterisis is never breached thus eliminating wear significantly over conventional rail.

We also have the high speed test track route in early stage of planning negotiations. We presented the route and we are waiting to hear from the County Council planning department. Mech Engineering informs me their design criteria for the bogies will be 140km/h. So with both high speed and urban test track routes in place we can tender for a wide spectrum of projects. Easy as she goes.

Best regards,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Personal Rapid Transit Has Always Been a Bogus Excuse to Defund Rail Transit

The PRT promoters are attacking reality-based transit again:

Opinion: Forget light rail, bring in the personal pods


WHY is there so much recent focus on an extension of light rail into Bergen County? It is not state-of-the-art transportation. It is not an inexpensive system to build, and there is no funding for it.

Wherever such a system is operational, it merely adds to the existing traffic congestion on the ground, to say nothing of the potential liability from intersection with vehicular traffic.


Years ago, when I started exposing the anti-transit, pro-PRT antics of Michele Bachmann, Mark Olson and Dean Zimmermann, it was common to hear PRT promoters call reality-based transit and particularly Light Rail Transit (LRT) "old fashioned", "19th Century", even "antebellum":

Mayor Greg Nickels' South Lake Union streetcar proposal is the most ludicrous transportation nonsolution I have heard in quite some time. The streetcar record in city after city is clear: high construction costs, high subsidies and no significant effect on congestion. How can streetcars be part of an intelligently designed new biotech district, when streetcars guarantee its streets will be congested?

I find it hard to believe that the best our civic leaders can offer us is this antebellum transit technology. Why is Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) not on the table for exploration? PRT is a "horizontal elevator" system that offers automated, on-demand, mass transit service.

For the same amount Seattle is planning to invest in trains, a grid of lightweight, unobtrusive, elevated PRT rail can be built covering the entire city.

PRT could even be deployed in South Lake Union, serving both as an efficient local circulator and to feed people to and from future train stations. And it could be done at a fraction of the cost of a streetcar line.

So why aren't Seattle's leaders looking at PRT?

Is it because the transit consultants giving them advice make an excellent living going around the country recommending trains?

David Gow, Seattle

Problem is PRT isn't new. For at least half a century, PRT has flopped over and over again wasting millions of dollars- how many chances do these losers get? I recently found an old book in a county library with pictures of extinct PRT projects I've only read brief descriptions in other old books or J.Edward Anderson's history of PRT.

From a website history (no direct link) of Rosemount Inc., a Minnesota company:

Uniflo was a computer controlled, air pressure levitated and propelled personal rapid transit (PRT) system. A Honeywell researcher, who had worked on and then purchased the rights for the project, interested Frank Werner in pursuing its development. Rosemount had hoped to fund the project with public financing or equity participation by another firm, but even with renewed federal interest in public transportation Rosemount had trouble funding Uniflo. A joint effort with Northrup Corp. to win a Department of Transportation (DOT) contract for a demonstration mass transit system at Dulles International Airport failed. The DOT passed over the Uniflo project for more conventional mass transit systems. Uniflo later received two other federal research grants but made no sales. The project, which was abandoned in 1973, cost Rosemount about $1 million.

This was the pitch, sound familiar?

A personal rapid transit system has been developed, capable of providing urban areas with public transportation service that is competitive with the automobile in speed, availability, accessibility, and comfort. The system contributes no pollution in terms of air, noise, or vibration; it is relatively small in size; and it can be installed elevated, on grade, or below grade. These qualities make it an acceptable addition to a community. Because this personal rapid transit system is highly automated, a significant reduction in the amount of labor required to provide transportation service is anticipated. This could mean that it would again be possible to make money moving people.

This is from a University of MInnesota News Service newsletter from 1965 (click on the text to make it bigger):

Here's what Uniflo PRT was supposed to look like - nothing looks more dated than futuristic design from the 1970's (click on the picture to make it bigger):

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nathan Koren Dismisses Meaningful Public Participation in Transportation Planning

Nathan Koren, according to his Twitter page is "Making the world safe for Personal Rapid Transit". On the "Transport Innovators" forum, Nathan Koren explains how he goes about seeking converts to the pod-transport cult:

I've actually found that educating the public is relatively easy: you tell them that PRT is like a robotic taxi on an overhead guideway, show them some videos of Heathrow etc., and they say "oh, cool!" and are thereafter more or less on board with the concept.

Wow, talk about condescending! Mr. Koren goes on to dismiss the importance of public involvement in decision-making:

But that honestly doesn't matter very much, because -- to put it bluntly -- the public is not involved in the decision-making or implementation process for PRT systems. Since "the public" doesn't buy, design, build, operate, or regulate PRT systems, what they think has virtually no bearing on what actually happens.

Mr. Koren, as is often the case with PRT promoters ignores the process by which, in the U.S. transportation planning is supposed to work. From the USDOT's "The Transportation Planning Process: Key Issues":

Public involvement is integral to good transportation planning. Without meaningful public participation, there is a risk of making poor decisions, or decisions that have unintended negative consequences. With it, it is possible to make a lasting contribution to an area's quality of life. Public involvement is more than an agency requirement and more than a means of fulfilling a statutory obligation. Meaningful public participation is central to good decisionmaking.

The fundamental objective of public involvement programs is to ensure that the concerns and issues of everyone with a stake in transportation decisions are identified and addressed in the development of the policies, programs, and projects being proposed in their communities.

By "meaningful public participation", the USDOT doesn't mean talking down to citizens and showing a few videos as Nathan Koren and his PRT evangelists often do. Mr. Koren goes on to say the real roadblock isn't citizens, but "professionals - developers, transport planners, land-use planners, regulatory bodies, etc." That is utterly bogus - all those professionals are working for the public and have to follow a process that includes meaningful public participation.

Nathan Koren isn't the only PRT promoter with a dismissive attitude toward the public - this is from a January 29, 2010 post titled "PRT "Consultant" Advises Public Officials to Manipulate Public Process":

PRT "consultant" Peter Muller, who was at the MnDOT Rochester PRT symposium recently posted this advice to public officials on his website:

Any proposed PRT system that could suffer from adverse public comment, should have a well thought-out public outreach program. Public education and input should commence before there is any chance of members of the public learning about the project and becoming upset, because there are aspects of it they do not understand or that get misrepresented in the press. There are many instances of good public projects being stopped in their tracks by a vociferous minority.

Muller then goes on to describe a sham public process - the sort of manipulative process described by Sherry Arnstein in The Ladder of Citizen Participation:

In the name of citizen participation, people are placed on rubberstamp advisory committees or advisory boards for the express purpose of "educating" them or engineering their support. Instead of genuine citizen participation, the bottom rung of the ladder signifies the distortion of participation into a public relations vehicle by powerholders.

The PRT guys have always avoided a genuine public process... what are they afraid of?

In a 2010 letter I wrote to the Winona Daily News, I wrote the following:

According to a Jan. 20 article in the Winona Daily News, a meeting where the public could have asked questions was for Winona City Council members only, “While there was little discussion of PRT during the meeting, the vote came after council members examined the system during a pre-council informational session that lasted more than one hour.”
I recall a similar PRT “informational session” for Minneapolis city officials only on March 26, 2005. When a proposal for a PRT project later came up for a vote in committee, the PRT promoters failed to show up and the matter was tabled. More recently, public officials in Daventry, England, complained that PRT promoters would not show up at public forums to answer questions. The Minnesota Department of Transportation held a “PRT workshop” Aug. 18, which cost $50 to attend and was not a public meeting. Why are PRT promoters avoiding the public?

When the city of Winona revisits the issue of PRT, as it has recently indicated it would, I would suggest they hold a free, public forum and invite critics as well as promoters. I would also suggest inviting experts in the field; transit engineers, transit advocacy groups and environmental groups. But most of all, I urge Winona city officials to invite the public.
Grassroots support for any big public project is essential. For it is the citizens who will end up paying for it— and if built, living with it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Personal Rapid Transit Pod People Invade Mexico

More locomotion lunacy from the PRT Consulting blog about a Mexican PRT project called Modutram:

A unique operational feature is that the vehicles will keep moving slowly through stations without completely stopping. This operation has proved successful when tested with handicapped passengers.

Here's a video with an annoying soundtrack showing a scale model of the Modutram pod in action. Watch as the white pod noisily jerks while switching toward the end - hilarious!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ten Years Ago: Taxi 2000 Corporation's Business Plan

Last month, the Fridley Patch had an article about the Taxi 2000 Corporation. In the article, one of the investors described the would-be pod vendor as "moribund".

Ten years ago this month, January 31, 2002 to be exact, Taxi 2000 had the following "Business Plan" on its website - it's still available on the Wayback Machine:

The Problem We Propose to Solve

A major problem cities face today is congestion. Public opinion surveys confirm that, in the eyes of city dwellers, congestion often is perceived as the most important urban problem. Current modes of public transit date back to the nineteenth century. They offer poor levels of service and consume tens of billions of dollars in operating subsidies. The huge costs to build rail systems generally result in transit systems that connect only a few origins and destinations, and do not induce significant ridership because they are unable to compete with the convenience and flexibility of autos. This further exacerbates the need for greater government subsidies. The bottom line of current urban public transit is huge costs and poor service. This is the reason why public officials are not able to provide relief for the problem. No matter how much public investment flows to conventional public transport, the main problem – congestion – will remain if a new solution is not found.

What Is PRT?

PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) is a system with small driverless vehicles running on demand on a guideway, offering individual trips without stops. PRT has no timetables and no fixed routes. The vehicles wait at stations for passengers, departing when a passenger boards. He or she travels alone or with companions of choice. The vehicle’s computer determines the most rapid route and the vehicle makes no stops until it has reached its destination, resulting in consistently short travel time. These service characteristics are comparable to an automobile. In downtown areas PRT travel times will be much less than travel by automobile or walking, resulting in high PRT ridership.

Why Taxi 2000?

Taxi 2000 (PRT) technology is an elaborate creation utilizing “least-cost strategy”. Installation costs are a fraction of any existing rail technology. Operating costs are well below any current mode of public transit (including buses). As a result, Taxi 2000 PRT can provide much more comprehensive system networks per dollar of capital investment.

axi 2000 PRT offers compact unobtrusive elevated guideways carrying small-scale vehicles with seating for up to three people. The system is fully automated. Modular stations may be stand-alone or due to their small size located in commercial buildings, hotels or parking ramps. Station density in the network is very high, resulting in a much higher level of rider convenience at both ends of the ride. All rides are private, on-demand twenty-four hours per day, direct to destination without transfer.

Large Taxi 2000 PRT systems run at a profit. This allows for system network expansion funded by system profits. Government funds are not necessary for installation or subsidizing operation. Thus, public entities or private interests may own and operate systems.

Taxi 2000 Corporation will receive revenue from two primary streams, system installation management fees and control system software leases. Revenue flowing from secondary sources will include training fees for system personnel, system operation fees, if contracted to operate systems, and ownership of some systems.

The Market

The market for Taxi 2000 PRT is several hundred billion dollars worldwide. On a weekly basis we receive application inquiries from throughout the world (every continent except Antarctica). Taxi 2000 currently enjoys broad-based support from citizen groups throughout the U.S.

Whoa! "broad-based support from citizen groups" REALLY? I don't recall any of that support.

Marketing Strategy

Taxi 2000 PRT will be marketed to both public and private entities. The huge cost advantage in installation and operations, as well as a much higher level of service, will allow us to successfully compete against currently vested urban transit interests. The greatest obstacle to overcome is institutional resistance to change, and heavy lobbying by existing transit systems and the consulting engineering firms supporting them.

We will focus our educational and sales campaigns on communities with the greatest potential for early applications. This effort will be directed toward the general population, citizens groups, legislators, government officials and business interests. The goal is to impart a thorough understanding of Taxi 2000 technology and its cost effectiveness. Our application sales engineers, some of the best in the world, will benchmark our technology against the competition and demonstrate its economic feasibility in a variety of environments. Many of our early deployment opportunities will be in situations where bus and rail systems are unworkable as solutions.

We will also create partnerships with several of the major transportation engineering-consulting firms in the world

Here the "Business Plan" includes the lengthy bios of J. Edward Anderson, A. Scheffer Lang and Raymond A. MacDonald. Then it gets around to... the money:

The Taxi 2000 business plan requires funding of twenty-five million dollars to be raised in successive rounds over a thirty-six month period. The funds will be used for completing specifications, building of the test track facilities, world-class procurement and marketing.

Exit Strategy

The opportunity for investor exit should occur between months 54 and 72. At this juncture, Taxi 2000 should have a strong backlog of booked sales, as well as a substantial number of highly interested potential customers. Initial system installations should be complete and operating, with other systems under construction.

Two potential opportunities for investor exit will be an IPO or a strategic acquisition by a large corporate interest. The strategic acquisition of the investor position would be the more likely scenario but this would be determined by the climate of the public equity markets at that time.

Interesting - a business plan with an "Exit Strategy"?.... anyways, according to Mpls/St. Paul Business Journal:

The firm has raised $2 million in a $24 million fund-raising effort to pay for the testing facility and other corporate needs, according to SEC filings and city documents.

Then there was that nasty lawsuit in 2005 and multiple, failed attempts to grab some taxpayers' money. I wonder how those early investors feel now?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Personal Rapid Transit is So Not Happening in Cincinnati

The pod people are always saying PRT is happening somewhere - the latest is Amritsar, India. But the pod hypster at acknowledged the gazillions of previously hyped PRT projects that fizzled:

That said, it should be noted that projects like this have a way of getting… derailed.

And the Amritsar PRT project will also fade away. I really doubt they will be able to reclaim the cost of construction when there are other, less expensive ways to go from the train station to the city's main attraction:

An auto-rickshaw from the train station to the temple should cost around Rs 20, while a cycle-rickshaw will run about Rs 30.

There is a free bus service from the train station to the golden temple run by Golden Temple trust. It drops you right at the accommodation booking office of the Golden Temple where you can get double bed room for Rs. 100 per day.

One thing is for certain, after the Amritsar pod project fails, the pod people will never admit the failure or why it failed.

Consider the Skyloop PRT which was supposed to happen in Cincinnati. The project is dead as a door nail and its would-be supplier Taxi 2000 was recently described as "moribund" by a Taxi 2000 shareholder.

But the Skyloop website is still up and apparently being used as "Google-bait" to boost the "Google-iciousness" of lawyers, handymen and home renovation and roofing contractors. The "Link Up With Skyloop" page is especially hilarious (I replaced the links with boldface):

While PRT was one of the moving technologies considered for the downtown area in the 2000-1 Central Area Loop Study (CALS) funded by a local car loan group, it was ultimately rejected at that time because of a better cheap auto insurance rate (which is limited to the official new car list) that seemed to fit better with our systems according to Numerous technical questions regarding PRT could not be answered due to the lack of a working system. However, the Study determined that none of the other technologies studied would generate enough riders to have any hope of being an economic success. Only PRT offered the speed and convenience to get enough people, like Adam Klein eMusic CEO, Rick Kimball Goldman Sachs, and others out of their cars to make any difference in the traffic pattern in the Study area. As the rates on car insurance quotes (another auto insurance quotes resource) continue to increase so does the chances that more people will turn to transit like Taxi Los Angeles. The results of the CALS ridership study performed by Parsons-Brinckerhoff showed that PRT would generate nearly 5 times the weekday ridership of the next best alternative and nearly 12 times the number of new transit trips. A depot is expected to go in near Park West Gallery in the downtown area.

Since 2002 the H.A.H (i.e. hire a handyman) has been monitoring the development of PRT in the USA, England, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Working systems are being built now in England and Sweden with the help of the Gantry Crane, and more building may occur soon in the UAE.

Recently, an ancient homemade Skyloop PRT model showed up at the Crystal Court in Minneapolis.

The streetcar line that the Skyloop pod people opposed is slowly making progress. It's too bad the pod people insisted everyone waste all that time and money on the dumb pods. You can read the 2001 OKI Central Loop study that settled the the pods vs rail transit debate in Cincinnati.

The silly Skyloop model (click on it to make it bigger):

Bowling Green Daily News - 6/29/1997 (click on article to make it bigger):

Cincinnati could have had this years ago:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Burnaby Personal Rapid Transit booster claims PRT is "one of the nails in their socialist transit coffin."

From the PRT Forum:

MISTER, which most on the site are familiar with, uses supported pods, tried to get in the line-up, but its proposal rejected because it arrived a day late (and perhaps a dollar short, since MR offered to built it solely as a private transit system – meaning no funding whatever from the government). Unfortunately, the local press portrayed it as a 'single rider rail car”, which it most definitely was not.

In another post, the pod booster becomes more... emphatic:

Maybe I should clarify. It wasn't a day late. I personally delivered MR's proposal and can speak personally that it arrived BEFORE the deadline. Jack (Slade) pegged it right:“They can ...make anything appear late, mis-filed, or even lost”. And in this case, they did. And, as I pointed out, sanitized any mention of PRT as an option from their site, save CH2H Hill's vague mention -- and dismissal.

As for PRT's strengths and point-to-point, a major point in MR's proposal was that instead of point-to-point and merely serving the university community, it could make numerous stops – not just around the university – and include the surrounding community to boot. That's what I call a plus – not a negative! As for CH2M Hill having "gained a good understanding of PRT", please. They're as biased as biased can be. I had a similar experience with it/them at Salt Lake City and a dose of the same contemptuousness in considering it as an option in an area called Sugarhouse.

Someone's going to give those guys a comeupins, and I'm thinking of electing myself. Back to Translink, though, interesting that the project is being shelved, ostensibly because of the high cost: $156 million. I'm wondering if the thought of being sued by those who would be subjected to the endless stream of peeping toms on the overflights was also considered. I love this Portland resident's exercise of his First Amendment right [link not safe for work].

As for Jack's comment: “How can anybody refuse a proposal that's free”. Dead on. What part of FREE doesn't Translink understand? Or want to. Maybe what Translink and other transit authorities really do understand is that PRT -- or anything else that can be privately run -- is one of the nails in their socialist transit coffin.

As for 2G and your goal of 2.5 seconds, I'm reminded that Cabinentaxi demonstrated .5 seconds back in the 1970s, and while I congratulate you for getting it actually running, I hardly categorize it in the same league as MISTER or any other suspended form of transit. Perhaps it's time to re-categorize PRT into the two camps it actually is.

Dave Brough

Yup, talk to a PRT promoter for more than a few minutes, then the right-wing, libertarian jargon starts to burble out. The pod people like to talk about how PRT can pay for itself, but if you ask how, they don't have a clue.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another Ridiculous Personal Rapid Transit Proposal Rejected

Ollie Mikosza, the Polish inventor and promoter of a ridiculous hanging pod PRT systems MISTER, is whining that his proposal was rejected because he turned it in late (Barnaby Now):

The idea of conveying large groups of people via transit is outdated, Mikosza said, as most people want flexibility and comfort when travelling.

The MISTER system would be operated on a private commercial basis, according to Mikosza, and wouldn't cost TransLink any money to run.

The City of Burnaby would be offered a five percent shareholder stake in the operation, and a seat on the board of directors, he added.

Because the system would require fewer materials than a gondola system, it would be cheaper to build, Mikosza said.

The MISTER plan would cost about $50 million to build, he said.

The gondola project is estimated at $70 million, according to TransLink.

Mikosza was upset, and said that his project wasn't considered in the business case stage of the project, because his application to manage the business case arrived late.

The pod people are always pretending to be victims. In this case as in others, the problem is PRT is not what the project calls for. Here is an evaluation of PRT for the project by CH2MHIll (PDF):

5.3.7 Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)


Personal rapid transit is based on small, automated vehicles operating on a dedicated network of guideways. The premise of these systems is that they can provide high frequency, on-demand service with a high degree of privacy given the small vehicles and, ideally, point-to-point service without intermediate stops. They are meant to function like a horizontal elevator and provide a level of service like that of a private automobile but as a public transit service. Relatively few PRT systems are in regular operation with the best known one being in Morgantown, West Virginia. New systems have recently opened in Masdar City, UAE; and a prototype as a parking shuttle at London’s Heathrow Airport.


Very few PRT systems are in operation and all are unique so it is difficult to identify “typical” characteristics. PRT systems are optimally deployed where there is moderate demand among a group of origins and destinations, which is not the case for this higher volume, point-to-point application. The capacity required here is also approaching the limit of what has been identified as reasonable for many systems, and likely exceeds it. Further, PRT systems need alignments (typically elevated) that are independent of other traffic and so incur surface impacts, albeit these are intended to be a lower scale than for other ground-level technologies.


PRT is not considered suitable for this application as the ridership demand is higher than such systems are designed for and the point-to-point nature of demand would not play to PRT’s strengths.

"Relatively few PRT systems are in regular operation with the best known one being in Morgantown, West Virginia." which often experiences breakdowns and electrical fires.

For laughs, watch this hilarious MISTER PRT video:

Fire Caused Chaos on the WVU Personal Rapid Transit

Yesterday, I wrote that the safety problems of the WVU PRT are the result of WVU's institutional support and cult-like adherence to the PRT ideology that can admit no fault to an obviously, deeply flawed concept:

...the WVU PRT was created to monkey-wrench conventional modes of transit and will be expected to function as a paragon of "gadgetbahn" for as long as they can keep it going.

It is about the triumph of anti-transit ideology and futuristic fantasies over reality and common sense.

As new information becomes available about this recent incident, it will be interesting to see if PRT boosters at West Virginia University will continue to "showcase" the deeply flawed and dangerous system as "the wave of the future."

From The Daily Athenaeum article titled "Electrical fire causes PRT shutdown":

The West Virginia University Personal Rapid Transit system shut down Wednesday due to an electrical fire in the PRT substation between the Creative Arts Center and the Engineering PRT station around 12:30 p.m.

"They were starting to notice anomalies – certain things stopping and (PRT officials) couldn't figure out why," said WVU spokeswoman Diana Mazzella. "Then they discovered the fire, and the system was immediately shut down."

The fire then spread to another break cabinet, according to Associate Director of PRT Administration Arlie Forman.
The Morgantown Fire Department responded to the fire, Mazzella said.

For the students, the experience was chaotic and terrifying:

Max Carozza, a senior finance student, said he was stuck on the PRT for 30 minutes on the track along Beechurst Avenue.

"The lights flickered, and it shut off," he said. "It slowly died. The PRT voice told us to hang tight."

PRT workers then located the car and led the seven people on the PRT tracks to the Beechurst PRT station.

Devin Novak, a sophomore nursing student, said she waited on the PRT for an hour before she was rescued.

"They said it took so long because a girl was claustrophobic and they needed an ambulance for her," Novak said.

Novak asid that before being rescued, another student on the PRT tried to pry the door open herself, but was quickly told over the car's intercom not to proceed.

"You could tell something bad was happening," she said.

After walking to the Seneca Center area on the PRT track, Novak said she waited for 20 minutes to catch a bus before calling a friend to get picked up.

"All of the buses were crazy because there were so many people leaving," she said.

The obvious solution is to shut the WVU PRT down for good and rely on proven, safer modes of transit.

It will also be interesting to see whether the mainstream media continues to publish puff pieces about the Morgantown PRT. Here is a re-post of my 2007 DMO post "New York Times Publishes Puff Piece on the WVU PRT":


In May, I predicted that Mark Olson's pals at the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) would crank up the PRT publicity machine as a preemptive whitewash for Olson's role in the PRT scam in time for his upcoming trial.

Today, the New York Times published yet another puff piece about the Morgantown PRT... Google News has links to the others.

The Morgantown PRT is an expensive flop. I have collected stories about how students and faculty hate the Morgantown PRT because it is so unreliable and it fries squirrels.

Here's the Times article:

City’s White Elephant Now Looks Like a Transit Workhorse


MORGANTOWN, W.Va., June 4 — During its troubled years of construction and testing in the early 1970s, the Personal Rapid Transit system that snakes through this hilly college town was derided as a fiasco and a waste of money that perhaps should be dynamited rather than finished.

...the article should have stopped there, but it continues with the traditional fluff we've seen in articles about PRT over the years... let's skip to Larry Fabian's quote in the Times:

“This is the only operating P.R.T. system in the world,” said Larry Fabian, treasurer of the Advanced Transit Association, an organization based in Virginia that promotes advanced rapid transit technologies and held a conference in May in Morgantown. “After more than 30 years, it’s still unique.”

... The Times says Fabian is the treasuerer for ATRA, but in a similar, May 31st puff piece, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, said Fabian was the "director" of ATRA:

"There are 130 automated systems worldwide, but only one like this," said Lawrence Fabian of Boston, director of the Advanced Transit Association, which deals with futuristic transit programs. "Its characteristics are unique,"

...and why is the WVU Morgantown PRT "unique"? The Times has part of the the answer:

But it is also expensive.

University and local government officials realize they are not likely to get the federal government to finance the expansion, as it did the original project. They are talking about coming up with local and state financing.

... can't get Federal money? That's pathetic when you consider that the Senator representing West Virginia is Robert Byrd.... it's probably more like hardly any transportation experts think the WVU PRT is worth expanding... the Times quotes one expert saying that:

“The infrastructure requirements are such that it is not realistic to think it could be adopted in highly developed U.S. cities,” Jonathan E. D. Richmond, a transportation expert, said in an e-mail message from Singapore, where he is advising the government.

...there's more fluff in the Times article about ridership etc. and then there's this bit of reality thrown in at the end:

Still, it does not run often enough for people who do not attend the university or work there.

“There’s a real problem,” said Bruce Summers, 64, who has lived in Morgantown for 34 years and works downtown. “When the university is not in session, it’s closed. You can’t rely on it. If you want to get downtown people to use it, you’ve got to do it another way.”

... wait, didn't the article start off by saying the Morgantown PRT was reliable? Recently, the new Mayor of Kansas City had this to say about the Morgantown PRT:

Mark Funkhouser used to ride West Virginia University's Personal Rapid Transit system, which he recalled "was broken down half the time."

Now he'll help develop a light rail system for Kansas City, Mo., population 450,000.

...Funkhouser was also quoted saying the WVU PRT "wasn't really mass transit".

So, why did the Times run this puff piece for PRT? Does all this recent PRT publicity have something to do with Rep. Mark Olson's trial?

ATRA's Larry Fabian, who is quoted in these puff pieces sent me a gloating e-mail after Rep. Mark Olson and Michele Bachmann won last November:

How is that you haven't posted the results of Tuesday's elections yet?

Bucking the Democrat thumping, Minnesota's two PRTistias were reelected, I see. Wouldn't honesty urge you to post that on your lovely website?

Larry Fabian
The One Who You So Kindly Told to %#$@ Off

Larry Fabian has a company that promotes various silly PRT projects like Higherway PRT and Ed Anderson's PRT International (no website yet).

Is it possible that Olson delayed his trial until all this favorable publicity aboout his pet project was published?

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Ken Avidor agrees with professionals who say that WVU PRT isn't Personal Rapid Transit but AGT (automated Group Transport.


In 2011, there was yet another puff piece about the Morgantown PRT in Governing Magazine titled "America’s One and Only Personal Rapid Transit System". The article abounds with irony:

In 1995, the computer control system was upgraded and now work is under way to modernize the individual control and propulsion systems in each of the 71 cars that remain in service. The PRT maintenance crew is proud of the fact that of the 80 million passengers who have ridden on the PRT since its start, no serious injuries or fatalities have occurred.

As afternoon traffic builds on the local streets, slowing movement to a crawl, the PRT vehicles continue to glide past quietly and efficiently. “The Morgantown PRT stands as an example of how cities can better cope with pollution, traffic and environmental demands,” Foreman says.

UPDATE: This video shows PRT promoter Larry Fabian talking proudly about the WVU PRT:

Note the emphasis on safety: