Friday, April 29, 2011

Editorial: Will the real PRT please stand up

Somebody wake me up on this please  on this discussion. (See references at end).

1. If we look on the streets of any city in the Global South, we see de facto PRT, personal rapid transport, all over the place.

2. In the form of cheap motorized two wheelers with pretty energy-efficient engines, enough road space to get the trip done, and free parking right next to where you want to go.

3. There is no way that the old mid-20th century PRT Pod folks can even start to compete with that.

4. But if this is the on-street reality, which of course it is, please show me the city or research program that is showing the way in getting the most out of this stubborn reality.

5. Who is making the best things about it better yet?

6. And who is getting some kind of control of the worst?

We need a new policy paradigm for this, let's call it, the people's PRT. Of course it's part of the problem, but it is also clear that it is a major part of the solution, as anyone with even an ounce of experience and common sense can see. And policy makers, advisors and proponents of sustainable cities we will continue to ignore it at our peril.

Take the city of Kaohsiung as just one salient example: 1.5 million people, 1.2 million scooters, and something like three quarters of the modal split. And all this in parallel with an absolutely gorgeous new state of the art six billion dollar metro that started to go out of business on Day 1 of its opening and ever since, because it simply cannot compete in terms of trip time, convenient or price.

Shouldn't we be working on this – along with the on-street reality options such as BRT, HOV access, parking control, strategic speed control, safe walking and cycling, and all that we know are parts of the solution -- instead of wasting our time with these long disproven, whack-a-mole PRT proposals that clearly have no place in our cities

How to get the message across to the policy makers and politicians?

This has been good fun, but Brendan Finn has it right. These PRT enthusiasts are distracting us at a time when we need all our brains and focus for the real stuff. Out they go.

Eric Britton

Some reference points:

· Sustran list comments -

· World Streets article of 26 April -

· CityFix article of 27 April -

· Facebook group -

· World Streets Poll -

- Masdar City Abandons Transportation System of the Future -

Note on the poll results: Worth noting that the poll has in the last 24 hours been contaminated by no less than 106 visits from a single Comcast Cable site in one identified city in the  United States, with the result that exactly 65 votes have been recorded from the one site in favor of PRT as a solution.  Now that  has to show something. (It's a bit sad actually. The poll will be properly  cleansed before finalization.  In the meantime we will leave them in, just so it looks like a real horse race.)

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