The Case for Personal Rapid Transit

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Going from LA to San Francisco in only thirty minutes is not that much an improvement in convenience if it takes an hour on each end of the trip to get to and from the hyperloop station. The real transportation crisis is in moving people around cities.

With robot drivers, Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) vehicles are more sensible than ever. They can be hailed by smart phone, and programmed by the passengers (verbally or by pointing to a map) to drive to any destination desired. The robot-steered cars can transfer via ramps to existing roads, so that you can have door to door service.

I live about six miles from downtown Seattle. It takes almost an hour to drive there and park and walk to my destination, even with light traffic. A PRT traveling at just thirty miles an hour would get me to my destination, door to door, in about twenty minutes.

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The tracks can be dumb slabs of concrete, built over the median strips of existing roadways. They don’t need to be electrified, they don’t need lights, they don’t need magnetic chargers. If you keep the cars small then there’s no reason why the tracks have to be huge.

Today we have freeways than don’t allow pedestrians or bicyclists. In the future, there will be transportation routes that only robots can drive. Perhaps it will come in fifty years, but we could sure use it now.

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About engineerzero

Once and future engineer.
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