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Comparing Transportation Options

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Several individuals and organizations have compared PRT with other transportation options. Here are a few.



Various factors contribute to the service level of any particular transportation option. The comparison table below from PRT Consulting provides an overview and comparison of 12 factors. (This table has been superseded by an 18-factor table.) While this table and others below are somewhat subjective and lack supporting data, the general consensus appears to be that PRT offers significant advantages over other transportation options.






This comparison table comes from the Greenville County, NC, Economic Development Corporation PERSONAL RAPID TRANSIT EVALUATION Study.




This chart comes from Part 2 of Mobility for Humans: Here to There in Four Parts by Loren Pahlke. Find a brief overview of the article here.




From: rputman@aol.com
To: prt-info@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2003 12:59 PM
Subject: [prt-info] Re: Curtis Johnson article

I've been following PRT for more than 3 decades. Thirty years ago, the electronic hardware for PRT was not very cost effective. Now it is. To put things in perspective, I've created a comparison grid which compares PRT, car, bus, and light rail transit (LRT). Admittedly this is a subjective analysis. However, anybody could take the criteria and input their own numbers to come up with THEIR conclusion.

Evaluating Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)
versus Car, Bus, and Light Rail Transit (LRT)

So as to be able to quantitatively compare various systems, this analysis assigns a numerical value for each criterion/system combination. The point values assigned are:

4 = excellent, 3 = good, 2 = average, 1 = poor, 0 = awful.

Criterion and comments

P R T

c a r

b u s

L R T

capital cost for new road, rail or guideway

4

1

1

1

capital cost per vehicle

4

3

2

1

land acquisition required for new right of way

4

1

1

2

operating cost per vehicle: PRT vehicles are very simple, compared to a car. Hence, there is less that can go wrong. Also, one PRT vehicle is will likely be used for dozens of trips per day, thus spreading out operating costs.

4

1

2

2

trip comfort. PRT is the only option that is nonstop from origin to destination.

4

3

1

2

average trip speed during rush hour. Stops enroute hurt LRT.

4

0

1

2

impact of a labor strike PRT is automated, requires no driver.

4

4

0

1

energy efficiency under light loading: An empty PRT vehicle might weigh 800 pounds, an empty LRT vehicle is around 80,000 pounds. Now the energy efficiency to haul two passengers in each type of vehicle. Bus & car fall in between.

4

3

2

0

total trip time: On a trip to work, this would include getting to the vehicle departure point, trip time in the vehicle, and getting from the vehicle debarkation point to the work site. LRT offers the fewest get on/get off points. Car time suffers enroute.

3

3

2

1

noise pollution: Regarding cars, some people love to make their cars go varoooom, squeal their tires, and crank up the stereo with the windows open. On a bus or LRT you may have to put up with some stranger's boom box. On PRT you get to choose who you ride with.

4

3

3

3

air pollution:

4

2

0

3

Likelihood of collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians: A PRT system operates on its own elevated guide way. An LRT cannot swerve out of the way to avoid an impending collision.

4

0

0

0

security while waiting to embark: Bus and LRT riders have to wait around until the next scheduled vehicle comes.

3

4

1

1

security enroute Riders on buses and LRT have no choice as to who they ride with.

4

4

1

1

maintenance of travel surface This rating for PRT assumes a system hung from above rather than supported from below. For a supported from below system the rating would be the same as LRT.

4

1

1

3

ease of system expansion PRT can use existing rights of way.

4

2

2

1

downtown space needed to park vehicles during the day

4

0

4

4

ability to drop shoppers off inside malls, hotels and other businesses

4

0

0

1

How well does the system adapt to you - when You want to leave and where YOU want to go? Fixed schedules and routes are negatives for buses and LRT. PRT is an on-demand system so you never have to wait for a vehicle because they are sitting in line waiting for you. Once boarded, your personal PRT vehicle never stops or slows down (The SkyTran system is designed to travel 100 mph!) until you have arrived at your chosen destination.

3

4

1

0

Can the rider pay close attention to serious work while enroute to work, such as using a laptop computer? On a bus or LRT the frequent stops and starts and the actions of other riders are distractions.

4

0

2

2

What is the likelihood of a vehicle breakdown?

4

2

2

3

If a driver becomes impaired because of a heart attack or the influence of drugs or alcohol how bad are the potential consequences? PRT has no human driver.

4

0

0

1

If an emergency happens in the vehicle, the vehicle can be rerouted to the nearest facility for treating that emergency. With a car, if the emergency is affecting the driver, that presents a real problem.

4

2

1

0

Degree of disruption of roadways and businesses along alignments during system construction or expansion.

4

0

0

2

System Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without incurring significant additional costs.

4

4

0

0

Tax subsidy needed? For cars, the huge cost per mile for road construction and maintenance is paid for with taxes. With buses & LRT, tax money pays toward both capital costs and operating costs.

4

3

0

0

Practical use for the handicapped, children, and the elderly. LRT falls down here because of severely limited entry and egress choices. Cars provide those choices, but often a separate driver is needed.

4

2

2

1

Point totals for PRT, CAR, BUS, and LRT.

105

52

32

38



The source of this comparison chart is unknown.



$4.7B for 4 BART stations or $1.5B for 100 stations?

The $4700M (million) price tag of a BART tunnel under San Jose (BART Burrow) costs so much that other transportation options suffer. The projected 55,000 passengers/day demand in 2045 is too low to justify a 55,000 passengers/hour technology. And the construction schedule ensures that global climate disruption will overwhelm us before trains start running. In short, the risk is too high and the return on investment (ROI) is too low to justify BART technology.

Instead, please consider another technology to connect the BART Berryessa station with the Caltrain stations. Consider Automated Transit Network (ATN) at $15M/mile which includes elevated guideway, off-line stations, cabs, and computer control. A one-for-one replacement by ATN for the 4-station, 12-mile round-trip BART Burrow would only cost $180M and still provide the needed capacity. A better option is to invest $1500M for a 100-station, 100-mile ATN that serves far more people with non-stop service between all stations.

In 2001, during the public comment period on a 16-mile BART extension, an ATN alternative was proposed. As shown in the diagram above and at http://sunnyhillsneighborhood.org/area.html#network, it outlined 91 miles of ATN guideway with 117 stations. That proposed network covers the Golden Triangle and downtown San Jose. Now, 15 years later, we can plan a network to match our current transit needs.

As shown below, quiet, non-stop 24/7 travel at 30+ mph between 100 networked stations would benefit our sprawling area far more than a 4-station BART corridor extension. The two options are compared using the Project Purpose list created by the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).



Project Purpose

BART

ATN

Improve public transit service

Low/Medium

High

Enhance regional connectivity

Medium

High

Increase transit ridership

Low/Medium

High

Support transportation solutions that will maintain the economic vitality and continuing development of Silicon Valley

Low

High

Improve mobility options

Medium

High

Enhance level and quality of transit service to areas of existing and planned affordable housing

Medium

High

Improve regional air quality

Low

High

Support local and regional land use plans

Medium

High

Omitted from this VTA-generated list of purposes is any reference to ROI. Also missing is any reference to the present and growing danger of our global climate crisis, and the need to act quickly and boldly to avoid costly consequences. If Zero-Based Budgeting rather than political inertia were applied to this BART extension, would it survive another budget cycle?

In 2001, BART promoters rejected the concept of bridging the gap between an eastside BART station and Caltrain using ATN. They claimed that the need for a transfer “would result in longer travel times and inconveniences to the rider that would not be consistent with the project's purpose to 'maximize transit usage and ridership' nor would it facilitate regional connectivity.” Longer travel times and inconveniences are not a problem for San Francisco transit users who enjoy frequently scheduled and networked transit. ATN provides that frequent service. And a 100-station, 24/7 network would, in fact, “maximize transit usage and ridership” and “facilitate regional connectivity” far better than a 4-station BART corridor system.

Unlike “big box” transit like BART, ATN cabs are waiting for you 90% of the time - and available within 5 minutes the other 10%. This service level is accomplished with computer control, and by adding enough cabs and stations to satisfy demand. If congestion occurs, more infrastructure can be easily added because 1) ATN hardware costs are relatively low, and 2) routing and construction relatively easy.

Such scalability and flexibility of ATN dramatically reduces the risk of using the technology. In just 5 years we could be operating a starter network that connects BART to Caltrain. If we like that system, then we could grow the network as appropriate.

Rapidly accelerating global climate disruption requires major responses quickly. Waiting a decade or more to use 50-year old technology to serve a small fraction of our population is like responding to an oncoming train by freezing in its path. Reversing global warming requires new thinking and bold action. As one of the wealthiest, most technologically-advanced areas in the world, Silicon Valley can lead the effort to create transit that works for our sprawling suburban cities, promotes transportation equity, and reduces our high per-capita carbon emissions that result from our transportation infrastructure.

You can help! As the first step toward ATN, the Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association (SNA) is working to help finance a $50,000 Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a pilot project in Milpitas. Using ATN technology to safely shuttle people across a busy road 1) will cost less than a standard pedestrian bridge, and 2) provide us with the knowledge and confidence to apply the technology to different needs and places – like replacing the BART Burrow.

Learn more about advanced transit and a first-step pilot project proposed for Milpitas at http://sunnyhillsneighborhood.org/crossing.html. Many of the questions and concerns of elected officials, VTA staff, and the public will be answered once this $8M project is built.

Contact: Rob Means, 408-262-0420, info@SunnyhillsNeighborhood.org


You Can Help
Click to see PRT along Main Street passing under LRT

If you live or work in Milpitas, please fill-out this on-line survey.
Or, print this form [Open-Source (ODT), Microsoft (DOC), Adobe (PDF)], fill it in, and mail (or scan and e-mail) to the address at the bottom of the form.

As the next step toward a PRT shuttle project, SNA is seeking to kick-start the project by financing the City's portion of the $50,000 Environmental Impact Report (EIR). We only need $6,000 (12%) due to progressive transportation funding rules. After gathering funding, SNA will work with the City to secure the remaining funding and generate an EIR. Engineering and construction could follow the EIR.

Funding is expected from contributions (individual, business, and cities), grants from foundations, and maybe from U.S. transportation agencies. SNA will act as escrow agent until the EIR is started. Questions can be answered by SNA Secretary, Rob Means (408-262-8975, SNA@electric-bikes.com). Spread the word with this flyer, and make contributions (minimum $20) payable to:

Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association (or SNA), 1421 Yellowstone Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035-6913
(Please indicate whether you want to remain anonymous or have your name/organization listed online.)





Become a member!

Annual dues are only $20/year. To use PayPal, click the logo below and send your contribution to contribute@SunnyhillsNeighborhood.org

or print our membership form and mail a check to SNA, 1421 Yellowstone Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035-6913


Pursuant to Article 12, section 1 of the corporation's Bylaws, rights of members shall include:
1) Notice of all regular, special, and annual meetings, plus notice of any committee meetings in which they have expressed interest.
2) Copies of any newsletters or other publications of the organization, plus requested copies of any other documents of the organization.
3) The right to vote at all general meetings and the right to vote on any sub-committees that they join.
4) The right to offer motions germane to the group and have those motions given a fair hearing before the assembled membership.

Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association, 1421 Yellowstone Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035-6913, 408-262-0420, info@SunnyhillsNeighborhood.org