Schoolbus entrepreneur Michael Tornabe is excited about PRT, particularly Jpods, as described in a June press release (1, 2) concerning a plan to raise what sounds like local private funds for Jpods applications. Jpods's partnership with Switzerland's Festel Capital is mentioned prominently -- for legitimacy? To lend an international air? Leaving aside the question of the feasibility/desirability of private transit companies, the NewsCenter feels compelled to point out that the Jpods-Festel arrangement was inked in 2006 (see 12/28/2006 here), and the succeeding decade is an eternity in venture capital terms. We sought out Dr. Gunter Festel himself for a comment. Festel told us that, although his arrangement with Jpods has not officially ended, he has had no communication with Jpods or its founder Bill James since 2008.
More recent Tornabe press release replaces Jpods with skyTran
Now the Gurgaon-Delhi pod project could be delayed because the national highway agency forgot to get permission from the local municipal government corporation, the Times Of India reports.
June 13, 2016
Washington Post article on the USDOT Smart City Challenge; table at bottom links to all the submissions, including Greenville SC (ATN) and Raleigh NC (EcoPRT).
June 10, 2016
India - Pod taxi project inching towards reality. National highway agency receives 4 qualification bids: Metrino, "Sky Dran" (sic), Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. and Neel Metal Products Ltd. The agency will request RFPs from these entities.
This is the skyTran demonstration system on the IAI campus at Ben Gurion airport, billed as the "ugly duckling."
+ The guideway is inside a cage testbed. skyTran says a 'look-like' version (i.e. elevated on pylons) is now under construction.
Progress & Problems For S. Korea PRT System:
In Suncheon: Report of deficit crisis involving the Sky Cube debut system, located at the site of the 2014 Garden Expo. According to Google Translate, there was a 2 year deficit of KRW100 billion ($81m); operation may be, or already has been, discontinued. Ridership may be low because a 1-1.2km walk is required to reach the PRT. Some say the route must be extended 1.2km to the Expo entrance.
In Israel: The City of Rishon LeZion (or LeTsiyon), south of Tel Aviv, announces 60m deal with Sky Cube for a 'horizonal elevator electric train' serving the Israel Railways station and a new commercial/housing development near the junction of Highways 20 and 431. The city is interested in a 3-5km system; "construction work is expected to begin within a year" and opening in 1½-2 years. Expect a Sky Cube-skyTran turf war?
BBC: "London's first driverless cars revealed," and it's Ultra, modified for street use. The test will take place in the Greenwich Peninsula area (site of O2 Arena) starting in July, as part of Gateway -- 'Greenwich Automated Transport Environment.' The report makes it clear that while the Heathrow Pod's look is familiar (and perhaps comforting choice of "the design we have now"), all-new software, navigation and sensors will be used. ABC News bulletin Video: Slo-mo test run (May 2016)
Back And Forth With skyTran. "One of the things we miss about the old days of covering personal rapid transit is the way everything used to be out in the open..."
January 25, 2016
Times of India: "Jaipur Metro riders may glide to railway station in podcar"; shuttle between Metro station and rail station. Presentation by JPods-affilitated Actis Infrastructure -- which should not be confused with Actis Capital, formerly part of the UK Commonwealth Development Corporation.
Business news service runs article about liability and driverless cars with photo of Masdar PRT. A PRT podcar is driverless but not a 'driverless car.' PRT is grade separated, running on guideways or other surface where traffic isn't allowed, and only stops at designated stations.
There's been some buzz about this line from the story (quoting former MnDOT Commissioner Thomas K. Sorel, misspelled Sorrel by NPR): "the state considered PRT, but there was stiff opposition from backers of buses and light rail, and nothing was ever built." There's nothing too complicated about this. Most likely it means that buses and light rail had revenue streams, and the agencies and citizen groups that helped get those streams acted to protect them. It's not unfair, it's not a conspiracy. It's politics. -Editor
Formation of California Infrastructure Institute announced in Advanced Transit Association post (by longtime PRT advocate Catherine Burke, emerita professor of USC's Price School of Public Policy) on August 28. CALII was actually incorporated April 28, 2014 and has a legal address in a Del Mar subdivision.
CALII has an interesting and much-needed set of objectives: to create a proving ground where hardware and software can be independently tested; provide professional training; create and disseminate regulatory standards; collect and assess data on economic and environmental impacts. This could be the vetting authority we have called for earlier (A great day in Kirkland - but..., Editor's Blog, 2/9/2014)
Ollie Mikosza says a well-connected academic stole his PRT design. Guess who's winning
We began corresponding with Olgierd "Ollie" Mikosza in 2006, shortly after "MISTER" (Metropolitan Individual System of Transportation on an Elevated Rail), his suspended (vehicle below the guideway) personal rapid transit concept, first came on the scene. With Heathrow Pods and the Masdar City PRT still four years off, Mikosza exuded confidence and optimism that his design would be the one to break through... Keep reading
Plan B is for Buses Commuter says of PRT, "Are they real? They look like Disneyland", as though Disneyland isn't real.
Greater Greater Washington blog and extensive comments. Author kinda-sorta understands PRT, but not network capacity or that point-to-point really means station-to-station. Corollary to Godwin's Law should be The longer a comment thread on elevated transit goes on, the likelihood increases that someone will cite The Simpsons monorail episode, ending all serious discussion.
Send questions, comments and scoops to: prtinfo AT kinetic.seattle.wa.us
Editor's Blog Where we look at the world of sustainability beyond PRT & podcars. Here you'll find our interest in the environment (especially Puget Sound protection & restoration), city planning and clean energy. We also take our views on near-term transit planning for a ride on urban streetcars.