Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)
How PRT Helps the Environment
Intro How it Works  Construction   Economics  Point-To-Point Transport  Capacity   Concerns  PRT and the Environment SF Bay Area Further Information

Environmentally Easy

That's easy on the earth - and easy to understand. Replacing automobile trips with PRT trips is estimated to reduce both energy use and harmful emissions by a factor of 10! (Surprisingly, on average, LRT uses more energy per passenger than automobiles.) Even compared to relatively clean and efficient BART, ULTra's 2 Kilowatt/hour per cab consumption of electricity is small. Such dramatic reductions in energy use result from combining an electric drive system with cabs that are light weight and aerodynamic.

In addition to reducing energy use and its accompanying pollution, increasing resource productivity is key to long-term sustainability. PRT uses fewer resources and produces more results from them. Small, light-weight infrastructure is the most obvious example. However, due to small size and high occupancy rate (i.e. efficient re-use) of cabs, the material requirements for vehicles is also much less than other transit systems. In short, PRT exemplifies the Principles of Natural Capitalism.

A point of fundamental importance is that PRT ridership studies show that PRT will be able to attract typically 20 to 50% of the trips in an urban area, whereas LRT attracts less than 3%. The environmental advantage of PRT could, therefore, be enormous.

There is a big difference between a PRT system and an auto system:

  • Land Use: 1% vs. 30%-70%
  • Accidents and deaths: few and none vs. an estimated 6,420,000 cars involved in accidents in the US in 2005; deaths = 11/100,000 people (33,687 in 2010).
  • Energy Use: X vs. 4X
  • Air Pollution: none if powered by PV panels vs. Cars release approximately 333 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.
  • Driver's License: not needed vs. needed
Therefore, replacing use makes a big environmental difference. Add in that PRT ridership studies show that networked PRT system will be able to attract typically 20 to 50% of the automobile trips in an urban area, whereas LRT attracts less than 3%. The environmental advantage of PRT will therefore be enormous.


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