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Advanced Urban Transit for the Seattle region       


Community Benefits

Personal Rapid Transit benefits the community by adding to the existing rapid transit network, increasing the availability of transit service irrespective of mode.

Visual impact. Leading PRT designs have guideway that are only 1-3 feet tall and 3-6 feet wide, mounted on slender posts which can be as short as allowed by local regulations to permit vehicles to pass under the guideway.

Ease of construction. PRT support posts and guideway are quickly and easily installed by teams working from trucks. Because the only weight being carried are people in small PRT vehicles, PRT posts are only 1-2 feet in diameter and need only a 4-foot-wide hole in the ground. Major excavation that rips up streets, blocks traffic and demolishes buildings doesn't happen with PRT. Finally, guideway sections are lifted into place with either a forklift or truck-mounted crane. It's that simple.

Also described in "Infrastructure Cost Comparisons for PRT and APM," ATS Ltd. 2005

Safety. At 16-25 feet above ground, PRT is up out of traffic and above pedestrians, pets and children at play. PRT stations have been designed to be small, well-lit, and "open" so the interior is visible from the outside. All stations will also be video monitored by a central facility staff; operators will ensure security as well as assist riders via intercom.

You'll probably use PRT by yourself or with people you know, on-demand service means it is unlikely a stranger is going where you're going at exactly the same time as you. Vehicles will have an Emergency button which will alert supervisors and cause the vehicle to exit at the next station (usually less than a minute away). Someday, police and fire stations and hospitals will have PRT stations, and vehicles could exit there in emergencies.

Land use. PRT stations will usually be very small, since small vehicles require only small platforms, and large space for queues are unnecessary. Neighborhoods benefit because PRT stations can be sited without displacing homes and businesses, and in the small footprint of the finished station.

Because PRT is so inexpensive to build, its use is not limited to high density areas, or require redevelopment around stations to recover its costs. The general idea is that a community's population density and projected transit ridership create a threshold, below which rapid transit like metros and light rail are not economically viable. By being lower cost, PRT effectively lowers that threshold, making it possible for moderately dense areas to be served by rapid transit. With PRT smart growth planning can be handled on a community-by-community basis -- in fact MORE smart growth could be supported, because in an ideal rail-bus-PRT system every part of a city would have access to some form of rapid transit.

Jobs. Although it is a driverless transit technology, PRT would add to the transit workforce and not make it smaller. PRT would provide new rapid transit service, not compete with rail-based service. PRT vehicles, infrastructure and facilities would create maintenance, IT and customer service jobs.

Neighborhood Traffic. PRT stations won't cause traffic congestion because stations are only a half-mile apart. Unlike in a train system, each neighborhood will have its own PRT station, therefore there is no need to drive or take the bus to reach one: you can easily walk to your station. And no one will drive from miles away to reach that station, because their neighborhood will have a station too.

Environment. PRT is electric, unlike diesel buses it does not release exhaust into the air. There will be no motor oil or fuel for PRT to spill. PRT also means sustainable transit that uses energy more efficiently: Buses and trains must meet their schedules even when partially full or empty; hauling around empty seats wastes energy. A PRT vehicle runs only when someone needs it. And its slender rails and short turning radius mean PRT can go around big trees instead of cutting them down.

Noise. Electric drives are quiet, and because PRT vehicles are lightweight the smaller motors are quieter than electric buses. Most PRT vehicles will use rubber or rubber-like tires on a smooth, nearly seamless surface for a smooth and quiet ride. The remaining designs plan to use magnetic levitation in order to have no tire noise at all. Some PRT designs also enclose the rail inside a housing, which muffles most of the remaining sound. Most PRT designs will use quiet magnetic-repulsion ("linear induction") motors to perform both propulsion and braking.


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