Atlantic Cities puts forth an interesting idea in an article by Emily Badger today: Would more drivers submit to mass transit if their transit ride was more like that of a car?
Personal Rapid Transit is not a new idea but it might be hitting its stride as a mass production idea at the right time.
The pod-car could act as a taxi for multiple people going to the same stop, or a rider could grab one for a private ride that would make no stops before his chosen stop.
“Relative to all of our existing alternatives,” the article reads, “there’d be very little emissions, no traffic congestion, no loud teenagers or offensive odors. It’s the kind of public transit – again, in theory – that holdouts in private single-occupancy cars on the highway might actually be willing to ride.
“Researchers first began to advocate the concept in the 1960s (around the time of related monorail enthusiasm). But the expense always overwhelmed any serious efforts to build these things. The University of West Virginia in Morgantown has had a related system since the 1970s. O’Hare International Airport in Chicago floated one two decades later to no avail. “That was a big setback for PRT folks,” says Wayne Cottrell, an associate faculty associate professor of engineering at National University in San Diego.
“But the idea is still kicking around today with some renewed momentum, in part because PRT might be built more cheaply today than it could have been in the 1960s, and because it meets our more modern demand for energy efficiency. Futuristic pod cars might also be the solution that destigmatizes public transit for drivers who fear its unreliability. Advocates also, finally, have a few actual examples of its application: Heathrow Airport in the U.K. opened a PRT system in the summer of 2011, and the built-from-scratch supposedly net-zero community of Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates is planned around one as well.”
Photo by Reuters, borrowed from Atlantic Cities