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Advanced Transit Policy for the Seattle region       


Congestion Reduction; Benefits to Lifestyle & Commerce

Congestion Reduction. The key to reducing traffic congestion is a combination of (1) getting more people to use forms of transportation other than their private automobile and (2) prevent the freed-up road capacity from being filled by people who don't do #1. Conventional train and bus transit systems achieve #1 with varying degrees of success, and fail utterly on #2. Personal Rapid Transit proposes to succeed on both counts.

     PRT will offer degrees of attractiveness that trains and buses can't match on features of convenience, speed and a feeling of personal security.

  • Convenience. All points within Seattle's PRT system could be within walking distance of a station. PRT service will be demand-responsive: no waiting! Upon arriving in a station a person need only enter their destination and payment into the station computer, then board a vehicle immediately and depart.

  • Speed. PRT service is non-stop, a vehicle takes a traveler to the station within walking distance of where they want to go. There is no need to transfer and wait for another vehicle.

  • Personal Security. PRT stations will be small, use "open" architecture, and monitored by video. Your ride in a PRT vehicle will be by yourself or with friends going to the same destination. Passengers can communicate via intercom with staff at the PRT operations base. Finally, an Emergency Stop button will divert the car to the closest station.
  •      By being superior to trains and buses on these factors, most of the time PRT will be a competitive alternative to driving. No longer will public transit be "what other people ride so I can drive my car".

         The automobile will always be superior to any form of public transit when we need to move large amounts of personal cargo (such as groceries) or groups of friends and family. But those aren't the types of travel that is causing traffic congestion now. Ninety-four percent of car trips in the U.S. average 3 or fewer occupants per vehicle—the main reason PRT uses small vehicles. By capturing only a small percentage of these trips PRT could make a significant dent in congestion.

    Lifestyle and Commerce. Public transit has always been "what other people ride so I can drive my car". As a result, congestion in most urban areas remains a problem and has only gotten worse. Personal Rapid Transit will change the way people view getting around cities by offering convenience, speed and a feeling of personal security. PRT will be seen not only as a way to make the commute to work faster and better, but also as a practical way to travel to shopping, entertainment and cultural & sporting events—until now nearly the exclusive domain of the automobile.

         PRT could provide easy access to all districts of Seattle, whether residential areas, mixed-used urban villages, or business districts and malls. It is even feasible for really big stores and malls to have their own PRT stations, as additional offline stations does not affect overall system efficiency.

         Thus the PRT benefit for lifestyle and business are:

  • Direct: Easy access by PRT to places of employment and business. Customers and employees will be able to reach jobs and retail as easily as they can by car, only faster and without the hassle and stress of driving and parking. It is even conceivable that PRT will lead to less money and acreage having to be spent on parking facilities.

  • Indirect: Reduced traffic congestion due to PRT will make travel by car for work, shopping and entertainment easier too. People will spend less time sitting in traffic: customers will be able to spend more time shopping; employees who commute by car will spend less time in their cars.
  • But moving people is only part of the equation. Our economy needs uncongested streets so that businesses can receive shipments and deliver products, and also make deliveries to customers' homes. This is why transit that actually reduces congestion is so important, and why we need to supplement conventional transit technologies like trains and buses.


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