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Advanced Transit Policy for the Seattle region       


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  • President: president AT gettherefast.org
  • Media Relations: media AT gettherefast.org
  • Community Outreach: info AT gettherefast.org

    SoundPRT Statement of Purpose

    SoundPRT is committed to improving the economic and environmental health of the Puget Sound region, through use of Personal Rapid Transit to increase mobility and decrease congestion.

    Use New Technology to Create a Seamless Mass Transit Network (707 words)
    By Bob Dunning, David S. Gow, John Kropf, David Maymudes, Joe Shapiro and David Ward

    Excerpt: "Why can't our transportation system be more like the World Wide Web? Most visions of a Seattle transit system of the future involve a potpourri of monorail, streetcar, bus and light rail. But using such a system to get around the region means waiting with every transfer. What you end up with is more like a World Wide Wait." News editors: Obtain the complete text by contacting SoundPRT at media AT gettherefast.org
    PRT Truth Squad (Common Misconceptions about PRT)
    MisconceptionThe Truth
  • "Unproven"
  •  A number of PRT systems have been been successfully tested, the most notable are:

    (1) The 1972 system at Morgantown WVA, still in operation today with 71 vehicles (21 person capacity each) on 8.7 miles of guideway; it has carried 57 million passengers in 30 years.
    (2) The "Cabintaxi" system was demonstrated from 1973-1980 in Germany, successfully testing reliability, maintenance, and human factors; the program was cut due to a general German economic crisis Video.
    (3) The "PRT2000" partnership between Raytheon and the Chicago transit authority successfully demonstrated a 3-vehicle PRT test system from 1996-98; 2.5 sec. headways at 30 mph were achieved. Conceptual errors resulted in oversized and heavy vehicles and guideway, at a cost too high for practical urban application.
    (4) The Urban Light Transport (ULTra) system successfully completed initial testing on a 1 km track in 2002, successfully concluding with passenger testing in January 2003. It has been APPROVED by the UK Government (Her Majesty's Rail Inspectorate) to carry members of the public. A hoped-for pilot system in Cardiff was switched to Heathrow Airport; construction at Heathrow is underway. Test operations will begin in 2008, and it will open to the public in 2009.
  • "Low Capacity"
  • PRT vehicles are small, but overall system capacity is huge. Capacity of a PRT system is measured by the total number of nonstop trips per hour by ALL vehicles, each trip starting and ending anywhere in the system. On-demand service combined with fast, non-stop rides enable each PRT vehicle to serve 5-10 different groups of riders per hour. Therefore, assuming 1.5 persons per trip, a 1,000-vehicle PRT fleet would serve 7,500 - 15,000 persons per hour.
  • "Expensive"
  • PRT systems now being planned will cost from $5 to $15 million per mile, compared with $35 - $200 million per mile for light rail/streetcars and monorail.
  • "Too slow"
  • Non-stop service means PRT's average speed (25-45 mph) is almost the same as top speed, unlike buses and trains which have low average speed because they make frequent stops or get stuck in traffic. Imagine how fast and far you could drive without traffic signals and congestion-- that is how fast you will travel by PRT.
  • "Unsafe"
  • PRT is expected to be safer than conventional transit. PRT is on-demand, so you will ride by yourself or with acquaintances. Station designs are small, and "open" with no places to hide. Little or no time is spent waiting in stations, and thus it is difficult for persons with criminal intentions to loiter in stations. Waiting for long periods at bus stops and on train station platforms, and riding in large vehicles with strangers, are the chief situations in which transit riders become victims of crime.
  • "Visually unacceptable"
  • PRT guideways and support pylons are smaller than conventional monorail structures. The guideway visual profile is roughly equivalent to existing overhead clutter of utility poles and power & telephone lines. But unlike telephone poles and lines, PRT guideway is attractive and streamlined, and will not be on every street. Furthermore, presence of PRT guideway is a cue to the public that a station is nearby.
  • "Isolating", "anti-community"
  • Some backers of traditional transit claim that PRT promotes "social isolation" because riders may choose to travel alone. But we all know that most strangers on the bus or train don't talk to each other, so taking PRT wouldn't cause much of a decrease in social interaction.
         The primary reason you will usually ride PRT by yourself is not because PRT is anti-social, rather that when you ride transit on demand instead of on a timetable, the odds of more than one person traveling from A to B at exactly the same time is extremely low.
          And nothing would stop friends (or even strangers) from sharing a PRT ride as long as they're leaving at the same time, bound for the same destination. This is even more likely, if not desirable, in situations where PRT is set up as a shuttle for a university or corporate campus. Students or employees could wait at a PRT station and ask others, "I'm going to Building 3 (or the Student Union), want to share a ride?"
          If we could continue to use transit, but spend less time doing it, imagine how much time you would have to attend community events, participate in PTA, volunteer, or simply spend time with family.
    The Truth Squad responds to Light Rail Now PRT Report

    Deputized by the Truth Squad:

    Rebuttal to Light Rail Now PRT report By J. Edward Anderson
    Rebuttal to Light Rail Now PRT report By Bill Wilde
    A Rebuttal to the Cincinnati Central Loop Study, 2001 (How PRT was misrepresented by a consultant with a bias toward light rail)

    PRT Facts

    Benefits over traditional transit
    PRT Service
    PRT Structure
    PRT Cost

  • PRT is Faster. Buses are slow, not frequent enough, and often don't go where you want to go. Trains are a little faster, but they have relatively few stations. They usually stop at every one, which reduces average speed. Green Line monorail and Sound Transit light rail trains are projected to travel their 14 mile routes in 33 minutes-- or 25 mph average speed. And, unless you live your life within convenient distance of a train station, you have to ride slow buses to and from the rail line.
  • PRT is Cheaper, only $5-15 million per mile. Trains are expensive to build, which means service is limited to only a few places. Trains are also too inefficient to run frequently 24 hours a day.
  • PRT is On-Demand & Non-Stop. A large portion of time spent using traditional transit involves transferring and waiting.
  • PRT is More Convenient. A network of small stations only ½ - ¾ mile apart means easy, walking-distance access to all locations in the service area.
  • Car-like service...
  • ...in a small PRT vehicle that glides overhead on a slender elevated rail. PRT speed is normally 25-45 mph in town. On longer journeys, such as from Bellevue to Seattle, PRT would achieve freeway speeds or faster.
  • Convenient and fast: no lights or congestion
  • You'll be able to walk to the nearest PRT station, board immediately and travel to the station within walking distance of your actual destination. Non-stop service means PRT's average speed is almost the same as top speed, unlike buses and trains which make frequent stops.
  • Demand responsive
  • There are no schedules, PRT is designed so that an available vehicle is almost always waiting for you at the station. Automated operation means PRT is there whenever you want it, 24 hours a day, everyday.
  • Safe, secure
  • Demand-responsive service means (1) PRT travel takes place alone (individually) or with groups of acquaintances, and (2) little or no time is spent waiting at station platforms.
  • Goes where you want to go
  • A PRT station will be within walking distance of wherever you are, and of wherever you want to go. The ideal PRT system will average 3 - 4 small PRT stations per square mile. Seattle, which is 80-85 square miles in area, would have 275 - 300 PRT stations. This high degree of convenience, combined with on-demand, non-stop service means PRT will attract higher ridership at all times of day than traditional transit.
  • High capacity, mass transit
  • Capacity of a PRT system is measured by the total number of nonstop trips per hour, each trip starting and ending anywhere in the system. On-demand service combined with fast, non-stop rides enable each PRT vehicle to serve 5-10 different groups of riders per hour. Therefore, assuming 1.5 persons per trip, a 1,000-vehicle PRT fleet would serve 7,500 - 15,000 persons per hour.
  • Being built now
  • A real-world PRT demonstration in Cardiff, UK began in January 2002. A US$68 million system will be built and operating by 2005 in the city centre. Given similar financial support, two systems by U.S. makers could be implemented within the next 5 years.
  • Frequent, small stations
  • PRT stations are less expensive to build and site, because they can be smaller than a house. A transit station needs to be as long as the longest vehicle to be served; trains can be hundreds of feet long, whereas PRT vehicles are only 8-12 feet long. Therefore, it is feasible to site PRT stations within ½ - ¾ mile of each other, meaning that one is always near you, and near to wherever you want to go.
  • Low visual impact: small pylons and guideways
  • Depending upon the manufacturer, PRT guideway is 1 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide (including spaces to allow light to pass through). Support posts are only 1 to 2 feet thick.
  • Small, automated vehicles
  • 90-95% of all travel in the U.S. involves groups of 3 people or less, therefore small vehicles are the optimum size of a transit vehicle. Studies have shown that small vehicles, operating on-demand, have the lowest cost per passenger.
  • Less expensive to build, easy to install
  • PRT has a low cost per mile due to the small size and light weight of the components. Installation can be performed with relatively small trucks and cranes. Each support can be placed in the ground quickly, without need to inconvenience businesses and residents for extended periods, or close streets. PRT structures are small enough to site in existing right of ways, and can easily go around buildings and trees instead of demolishing them.
  • Requires less taxes to build or operate, and less expensive to use. Could be supported by the farebox.
  • The combination of low capital costs, high ridership resulting from better access & service, and automation means purchase/installation and operating costs are easier to recover from the farebox, making public subsidy optional.
  • Less expensive to operate
  • Automation means a PRT system carries a lower payroll than transit systems that use drivers. PRT designs that use simple proven components with few moving parts have less need for maintenance.

    International PRT Reports

    Status & Potential of PRT, Advanced Transit Assn.
    SoundPRT's Mass Transit For Today
    Moving Ahead With PRT, European Union 5th Framework
    Techvilla (Finland)
    Huddinge (Stockholm), Sweden
    Viability of PRT in New Jersey (2007)
    Viability of PRT in Virginia (2008)
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