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Esitmating Costs of PRT Technology: Taxi 2000

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Estimating Costs of PRT Technology: Taxi 2000

The following graph shows industry-accepted cost estimates for PRT systems under varying conditions and number of cabs per kilometer (multiply by 1.5 for cabs per mile).

However, in the case of cost per cab, this graph may overestimate the cost. Following is an explanation of why.

# of PRT cabs to populate a mile of guideway -- and the cost.

At 30 mph with headways (spacing between podcars) of 2 seconds (as recommended for human-controlled cars),
each PRT cab covers 88 feet every two seconds.
30 mph = 5280 ft * 30 miles/hour ÷ 3600 sec/hour (60 seconds * 60 minutes) = 44 ft/sec. = 88 feet every 2 seconds
So, it only takes 60 cabs to populate a mile of guideway.
5280 ft/mile ÷ 88 ft/cab = 60 cabs/mile

If cabs cost $50,000 each, it only costs $3M to populate a mile with cabs. (60 cabs/mile * $50,000 = $3M)
Although cabs are not mass produced, they don't have expensive batteries, complex steering and suspension, or heavy gas motors
(fuel tank/pump/injectors, radiator/water pump/hoses, transmission and drive train, crumple zones, ignition system, muffler, catalytic converter).

PRT Industry Rule of Thumb: 50% of PRT cost goes for guideway, 50% for cabs

So, either the rule of thumb is wrong,
or cabs cost more than $100,000 each,
or guideway costs less than $7.5M/mile.

Regardless which is true, it appears that $15M/mile is a conservative estimate.

According to "Personal Rapid Transit for Microsoft and Bellevue" by Jerry Schneider and Steve Raney:
It is possible to produce PRT at a low delivered cost of $10M per mile, as well as a high $40M per mile. A model whereby engineers have financial incentives to keep costs down will be more advantageous than that of a traditional "cost plus" manufacturer that passes on cost overruns to taxpayers.

Another indication that $15M/mile is a conservative estimate (especially for Taxi 2000 technology) comes from a 2004 report by TRANSEK Consultants for the project entitled European Demonstration of Innovative City Transport (EDICT). Included in the report is the following chart comparing costs between Bus, PRT, LRT and AGS (Automated Guideway Systems or "APM" in the US). Each estimate includes the total investment costs for guideway, vehicles and stations for the different systems. Bars in blue are Stockholm systems, in green are PRT systems, and in brown are other systems.

The three Stockholm LRT systems costs around 15-20 M Euro per track-kilometer (24-32M€/mile). A summary of 22 Automated Guided Systems in the US have an average cost of 17M Euro per track-km (27M€/mile). All three PRT systems show a lower investment cost than the studied LRT systems with Austrans at 9 M€, ULTra at 5.6 M€ and Taxi 2000 at 3.4 M€ per kilometer. An average of the three PRT systems yields an investment cost of 6M€ per track-kilometre (9.6M€/mile).

If we extract the Taxi 2000 cost of 3.4 M€ per kilometer (5.5M€/mile),
use the 2004 date-of-publication conversion rate of 1.2 dollars per Euro ($6.6M/mile),
and factor in a 1.26 inflation rate since 2004,
current costs are estimated to be only $8.3M/mile
-- far less than the $15M/mile estimate for the "average" PRT system cited on this website.

Another cost estimate was developed by members of the Sky Loop Committee in Cincinnati. Last revised in 2001, it included a table of costs as part of the financial analysis section. That table is provides a detailed estimate of the cost of a PRT system with Taxi 2000 attributes. Their 2001 estimate of $5.5M total capital costs per mile rises to $7.4M/mile in 2015 dollars after adjusting for inflation.

According to this ATRA document, PRT infrastructure can be provided for one-third the cost per mile of equivalent APM infrastructure, and PRT stations for half the cost or less of APM stations.
This news article says the SkyTran flavor of PRT infrastructure costs $13M per mile ($8M per kilometer).
This news article says the 2getthere flavor of PRT infrastructure costs $24M for 2.5 miles, or $10M/mile. The Modutram flavor of PRT infrastructure costs $16M for 2.5 miles, or $6.4M/mile.
The Morgantown GRT upgrade includes some real-world cost estimates for various components.
The ecoPRT website claims their system will be much less expensive than PRT systems such as Heathrow Airport's UltraPRT.
"EcoPRT has a target cost for guideway at $1 million per mile. ... Vehicles will use off-the-shelf components and a lightweight design to keep up-front vehicle cost as well as maintenance costs low. The target vehicle price is $10,000 or less."

In 2016, two companies bid on the 2.5 miles of one-way guideway needed at the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport. At the estimated construction cost of under (and well-under) $25M, companies are now bidding PRT systems at $10M/mile rather than the $15M/mile used for Milpitas estimates.

Cost Estimations of PRT, LRT, Disney Monorail by Visual Impact

The image below shows the relative sizes of PRT guideway (purple), elevated LRT railbed (gray), and a man. The guideway supports the monorail tram (not shown) located on the grounds of Cal Expo that was installed in 1968 and still operates during the annual State Fair. Its size and weight is comparable to the Taxi 2000 guideway. The elevated LRT railbed with man portion has been PhotoShopped into the original image.

The image below shows the relative sizes of Disney Monorail guideway, elevated LRT railbed, and PRT guideway (minimalist type: TriTrack). The small print shows that the Disney Monorail uses 5,800 cu. yards of concrete and 1200 tons of steel per mile, while the elevated LRT railbed uses 28,000 cu. yards of concrete and 2900 tons of steel per mile. The elevated LRT railbed built through Milpitas cost about $120M/mile. As you can see, TriTrack (a minimalist type of PRT) uses far less concrete and steel, and therefore costs far less to build.

The graph below shows relative costs of 5 configurations of guideway. Type 2, supported, is the type used by Taxi 2000 and generally costs the least to build. As you can see, spans of about 30 meters (90 feet) are most cost-effective.

The image below shows the relative sizes of PRT and Automate People Mover (APM) vehicles. While PRT cabs generally carry 4 or fewer passengers, APM vehicles carry 20 or more passengers.

The image below shows the size of the SkyTran flavor of PRT guideway relative to cars and buildings.

The image below shows the scale of another PRT flavor (J-Pods) compared to a freeway.

The images below show the size of PRT guideway (truss before cowling is attached) and bogey upon which passenger cabs are mounted.

The finished cab riding atop the truss structure with cowling attached.

Because PRT uses much less material resources and energy to transport passengers,
it also costs much less to build and operate.

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