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Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)

How it Works  Construction   Economics  Point-To-Point Transport  Capacity   Concerns  PRT and the Environment SF Bay Area Further Information

Milpitas PRT "Ferry"

A minimal PRT system designed to ferry cyclists and pedestrians
over railroad tracks to connect Yosemite Drive with Curtis Avenue
is being proposed for Milpitas, California.
Learn more at http://www.electric-bikes.com/prt/ferry.html
New Urbanism designer Peter Calthorpe says: “We've been
developing TOD without the T for far too long. PRT is the T.”

While most transit planners struggle to reduce single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) miles by a few percent, PRT combined with existing transit options and modern technology can reduce SOV rates by 50% according to this study of a business park in Palo Alto, CA.

Although this introduction is good and the tabs above will help guide you through the "how and why PRT works", you'll find the "world's best general-knowledge PRT website" at http://kinetic.seattle.wa.us/prt.html

The quickest introduction is this excellent 3-minute video introduction that shows PRT at the Microsoft campus.
Here is a video from Heathrow Airport (BAA) introducing their newly constructed PRT connector between the new terminal 5 and long-term parking.

Find links to other introductions and in-depth information at Background Information

Click to learn more about the Status of PRT Projects and PRT developments in the SF Bay Area.

Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is a revolutionary transit technology that promises service that's flexible, prompt and dependable. It also requires less money, environmental impact and time to construct. Simply put, it promises a radical improvement in transit value.

PRT only became practical within the past 10 years due to advances in microprocessors, sensors, telecommunications and software. Instead of using large metal containers to move many people (e.g. a bus or BART train), PRT uses small plastic (i.e. fiberglass) vehicles or "cabs" to move a few people - or a person and their baggage. Think "two-seater sports car", like a Miata. Cut off the back (trunk space) and the front (heavy and complicated engine and drive train). Then elevate that "cab" onto a guideway so you ride above all the other traffic.

Stations, or "ports", are like bus stops located at ground level (or elevated and accessible by elevator). Most times a PRT cab will be awaiting you at your local port. Select your destination and get in. Quickly and quietly your cab leaves the station and rises up to merge with other cab traffic on the main guideway. Since all ports are offline, you never have to stop until you get to your destination port. There, your cab automatically leaves the main guideway and drops down to ground level for you to exit. Your cab is now available for someone else. Uninterrupted flow is the key to system capacity, not vehicle size. So a PRT system can carry as many people as multiple lanes of freeway traffic.

Financially, PRT compares favorably with light rail (LRT), electrified rail, subways, and our local San Francisco Bay Area BART. PRT offers comparable (or better) service for 1/10 the cost of BART - or 10 times the service for the same price. Environmentally, PRT also excels. Using proven technology, PRT systems can be easily built and expanded as demand grows. This means less up-front investment. PRT also better matches the needs of suburban sprawl that tends to travel from anywhere to anywhere rather than along spceific corridors.

Using PRT is similar to taking the bus or train. Only a slight change is required of people. However, in terms of societal impact, PRT may prove to be more than just a new transportation technology. It may prove revolutionary. It promises a change in transportation as great as the leap from canals to railroads, or from railroads to automobiles.

To examine the history of transportation over the past 250 years is to see the rise of three major technologies. First, canal transportation developed after 1750. Railroads flourished after 1825 and then automobiles had their turn starting early last century. Each transportation system required entirely new infrastructure and vehicles. Also,each new transportation system brought benefits far out-weighing any available by simply applying new technology to the old transportation system. "So what if your canal barge has a computer control; you still can't find a place to park it."

Placed in the context of 250 years of transportation history, PRT could be the next revolution in transportation.

When you compare benefits and value between transit systems, you'll find that PRT can't be beat for most transit needs. Here are the leading PRT initiatives:

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