Is personal rapid transit (PRT) realistic?

May 6, 2011
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We’ve got a short but fun Global Fridays piece today on the little heard of topic of personal rapid transit or PRT (a topic which is likely little heard of unless you’re a transportation dork like some of us). The inspiration for this post is found across the pond at London Heathrow Airport in the UK which this week began passenger trials for its PRT service connecting passengers from parking areas to terminals.

As altransport points out PRT essentially consists of personal subway cars (seating no more than 5-6 people) that run on an automated track and take folks from a specific origin to a specific endpoint. Since everyone in the car is going to the same place there’s no need to make unnecessary stops at stations along the way.

Sounds nifty huh? Automated transport directly to your destination accompanied only by people with whom you want to travel. Where do we sign up?

The catch is that nagging inconvenience known as feasibility. PRT may be practical in very high-traffic areas where folks are moving to common destinations. Airports and universities being two key examples referenced by altransport. However when it comes to introducing PRT on a larger scale and in more diverse areas problems with circulation costs and convenience make PRT impractical.

Still it’s fun to imagine…which is what we want you to do. Are there any examples of places where you think PRT is a viable if not the most viable option for getting around? Let us know.

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