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Public Transit Gets Personal

Topics: Clean & Green | Add A CommentBy admin | August 5, 2010

Would you trade your car for this kind of personalized point to point mass transit?

Okay. Maybe they’ll have to sex up the
look a little. This DOES look kind of like
an external hard drive for your Mac.

As someone who for most of his adult life has thought of the personal automobile as one of the stupidest inventions in the history of mankind, I’m always looking for a convincing alternative to present to my oil-addicted car owner friends. It doesn’t help when clever Chinese engineers come up with creative but ultimately nutty ideas like huge rail-dependent “straddle buses” that cars can drive under (video below). And while the Commutapult is one creative idea for personal rapid transit, it’s perhaps a bit too rapid. Even if they do provide a stabilizer for your latte, as pictured here. In spite of the humor of that concept, the fact is that Personal Rapid Transit is probably the smartest, most viable idea out there that has any hope of replacing the automobile, or in some cases – like with the Synchrotrain concept – partially replacing it, while incorporating a sensible way for cars to ride piggyback. Personal Rapid Transit concepts are probably the only mass-transit ideas that have any hope of addressing that one big obstacle to public acceptance, i.e.: our ego-driven need to go where we want, when we want. There are a number of systems in various stages of planning and construction, and two systems actually in or near operation, one at Heathrow Airport and one in Morgantown, West Virginia. There are also arguments against the viability of these systems, but it seems fairly obvious to me that most who oppose the idea vehemently overlook what recent technology and innovative thinking can bring to the mix. What do you think? Would you give up your car to ride these things? Videos of various concepts below.

Lightrail to PRT Transfer

This clip shows how quickly people could switch from train to personal transport with this kind of system. Compare this with the time you spend walking to your parked car, paying for parking, and returning to a major traffic artery.

ULTra PRT Sustainable Personal Transit

The ULTra PRT system is beginning operation at London’s Heathrow Airport

Synchrotrain Personal Rapid Transit

The Synchrotrain concept is a grandiose but brilliant scheme that would let link all of Europe and Asia with an internet-like system of rails that would even let you bring you car along when you travel.


Apparently the Germans thought of this all in the sixties…

Bubbles and Beams – A Convenient Future

The main reasons this particular idea hasn’t caught on are that no one wants to have to listen to that God-awful new age music and travel through a macabre watercolored world while their children are transformed into robots from the uncanny valley just so they can feel better about their carbon footprint.

Some people are less enthusiastic about the whole PRT idea…

The Chinese Straddle Bus Concept

Another Slightly Overworked Chinese Train Concept

This idea incorporates the “train that doesn’t stop” idea that is common to the PRT concepts in an unusual way.

In spite of the extra thought given to beverage stability, the Commutapult personal rapid transit idea is probably too rapid…