|Advanced Transit Policy for the Seattle region|
A Bold Solution For Congested Streets
All the usual transit technologies have been tried somewhere in the U.S. While the usual transit technologies have not met with total failure none has been truly successful in affecting urban mobility. Buses stop too often and get stuck in traffic. Light rail and monorail trains are expensive to build, and depend on the slow buses or other shuttles to get riders to and from the train stations. Even when ridership goes up, it doesn't keep pace with the increase in automobile traffic.
A Bold Solution. Our organization thinks it's time to seek a Bold New Solution. We are advocating installation of a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system in the Seattle area.
Transit networks comprised only of trains and buses can be inconvenient and time-consuming to use, since the latter tend to be slow and the former don't serve all locations. By eliminating these drawbacks, PRT will make all transit more attractive, to more people for a wider variety of their travel needs. This is how PRT will take pressure off the road system, reducing congestion. A PRT system connecting just Downtown, Capitol Hill, and First Hill will remove hundreds of buses from Downtown, Capitol Hill, and First Hill streets. Multiplying this by 3, since one bus equals 3 cars in length, and it is clear that congestion will be reduced even if PRT attracts only current transit riders.
PRT stations will be served by a fleet of taxi-sized, 3-4 person PRT vehicles (or pods), operated and managed by computer.
The elevated guideways, in principle like monorail, will be much smaller because of the small size and light weight of the vehicles. Posts supporting the guideways will also be small and don't have to be placed as deeply in the ground. As a result, PRT installation will be faster and cheaper, and fit in public right of way.
Using PRT. The PRT system is designed so that no schedules are necessary. A vehicle is either already waiting in every station, or can arrive in minutes to pick you up.
Imagine walking only a couple blocks from your home in Capitol Hill to the PRT station. The pod is waiting for you; normally one is always waiting. A flat fare is paid, either with cash or a smartcard. You pick your destination, another station closest to where you actually want to go. You board the pod and less than 7 minutes later you arrive at a station one block from your office near Jackson Street. You don't stop at stations along the way, you don't need to transfer to another vehicle or another transit system. As you stroll to your office, the PRT 'taxicab' you arrived in is available to another person for another journey.
Imagine what it would be like to ride an express bus from another area of Puget Sound to your job at a hospital on First Hill. However, instead of transferring Downtown to a local bus, your transfer is at a PRT station where a pod is waiting to whisk you non-stop to your destination.
Imagine being able to go to lunch at your favorite restaurant in Capitol Hill from your Downtown job. This is possible because there is a pod waiting for you at the nearby PRT station, which will take you to within a block or so of the restaurant. When you are ready to head back to work, a pod is waiting at the PRT station for your return trip.
PRT=High Capacity. PRT is high capacity mass transit because each vehicle in the large fleet can make several trips per hour (Learn More). A system with 5,000 vehicles, each capable of over 5 trips per hour, could theoretically make over 600,000 separate trips per day-- nearly twice the average daily bus ridership in King County, and 9-13 times the projected daily ridership for Seattle light rail and monorail.
Today's Technology. Several visionary companies have designed PRT systems which can provide a true city-wide mass transit system for the same price as, or less than, a single rail line. These systems are not science fiction, they can be built today, with existing technology.
ULTra ATS Ltd. photo
PRT is the best hope for a transit system which is fast, affordable, safe, and will serve all neighborhoods and taxpayers footing the bill.
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