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Personal Rapid Transit


Personal Rapid Transit is new idea for public transit that is not mass transit. This concept has in the past seen development here in Minnesota, though the idea is now coming to fruition abroad, most notably with the ULTra project at Heathrow airport.

The PRT concept is automated vehicles, typically on an elevated track, that take a passenger directly to their destination, without sharing the vehicle (except with those you want to share with) and without stopping at intermediate stops. It’s somewhat similar to a taxi, with vehicles moving about the system until a customer requests the vehicle, and then until the customer reaches their destination they are the only user of the vehicle. The PRT concept originated in the 60s, and by now technology has more than caught up, though many questions remain, especially about construction costs, politics, safety, research, etc.

I am not involved with any PRT technology, but I have found it interesting and have followed its progress, and it has several features that I think will make sense particularly to a technical audience. This presentation will describe PRT and compare it with traditional transit options. PRT has traditionally been the source of a controversy (even derision) in transit circles, and though I’ll be presenting a largely pro-PRT viewpoint I will encourage the audience to challenge that viewpoint at any time. No, wait… this is BarCamp, there is no “audience”! I mean my fellow presenters who just happen to be sitting across from me.


Minnebar 6 (2011-05-07)


Ian Bicking