Personal Rapid Transit for HSR…

One thing that Dan said on his post this morning was that a PRT system should be standardized in case a firm went out of business. I keep thinking of the last set of bogies he showed and wonder what will be the standardized mode of utilizing PRT.

One of the most useful ideas that I have seen is by Tritrack. They envision people buying a car type vehicle. I think a better use is to make it a vehicle that will cover some local stops but provide point to point transit in other locations.

I was thinking of Detroit and its population of 100,000 in 1874 and South Lyon’s 400 people. Today the Howell, Brighton and South Lyon area just barely have 100,000 people. Detroit did it on just 15 square miles in 1874) not 200 square miles (in 2010) .

By 1911 Detroit had about 500,000 people on 40 miles of land and streetcar lines that ran every two blocks apart. It had to be great! 500,000 in about 40 miles. Even today Jacksonville Florida has about as many people as Detroit yet takes up three times the land. So how do we provide transit for 100,000 spread out over 200 miles as compared to how we supply them transit in city life? Two different needs but there needs to be one solution in order to make them work together.

A system needs to be scaleable. Meaning that it starts out offering one thing and adds on to them at a later point. Say a system of four carriers that could also be converted into two carriers with room for two bikes. Drop off and pick up only. Yet the carrier can be also set up to drive off the system. So later on in some spots you set this up. The “cars” could be programed to drive to different entrances or drop off points.

Still later, platform cars could be incorporated that would hold an actual auto that could then be docked and driven off at its stop.

Scaleable and able to expand, that’s a system I can get behind. That’s the system that needs to be developed. That’s a system that needs to be thought of. (Yes, that is the system that we have.)

It might be a Maglev system or a wheel system or even a cog type system. Whatever it is it works and it will go at least a 150 miles per hour. We have to get around quick and 35 miles per hour is quick in the city. About 55 miles per hour is quick in the suburb’s. Let’s increase those figure’s. We can do a lot better than the 8 miles per hour on busses. Yes, we can increase those figures about 2 plus per mile. Yes, we can produce an incoming/outgoing speed of over 62 miles per hour. And yes we can produce a speed of over 130 miles per hour, over what would usually have taken you about 60 miles.

Think of this taking only a portion of the space required for a freeway interchange.

It’s time for a change-Detroit transit

Last Tuesday I had a chat with Marie Donigan, Megan Owens and Sean Mann on transportation hosted by The Detroit Free Press. Earlier I had read in the same paper an article that had said “Also at risk is the project to build light rail along Woodward because, Bing said, $100 million in federal transportation funds would be lost if the city can’t even provide decent bus services.” I’m wondering what the status of light rail coming to Woodward really is and so are some others.

Three articles published that week also sited possible delays and indecision by people connected to the project. The Free Press published an opinion the next day saying “Obstacles ahead…”. The South End, Wayne State’s paper published an article saying “Woodward Light Rail faces tough questions”. Finally on Thursday Crain’s published an article saying “Private money on the line: Woodward rail donors wait for layout they like”.

This week Dan Gilbert said “There’s almost nothing you can do better for an urban core than curbside light rail”. Yet most planners see curbside rail as a hinderance to bike riders. There might have to a modified system.

And thinking about a modified system I have to say that my preference to the woes of Detroit area transit come down to a combination of bus rapid transit and a personal rapid transit system. First off I don’t think the Woodward light rail line running to 8 Mile will do much for the city. There are not a lot of people in the 1/2 mile right of way along the line. A better route would be to do a personal rapid transit line that ran less than a 1/2 away, right by some of the positions that have said they would support light rail but are no where near it.

Ithaca, NY did a plan for a PRT system of 11.5 miles (5.75 miles of two way track) that would cost about 185 million. Our rial line will cost in excess of 550 million for 9.5 miles. Is it not time to consider another alternative?

Part of the problem is showing it to people. How do I do that? Well the best way is a video. So I did one. Take 6 minuets of your time and watch the personal rapid transit route I suggest for Detroit.

This route incorporates several needy areas along with several upscale areas and feeds into shopping and entertainment districts as well as job locations.

On a related note I also think PRT is a solution that could work for the Ann Arbor to Detroit route. During the past few years planners have proposed a train between the two cities. What is not outlined very clearly is how to get to the airport. Using one train route does not go by the airport so busses would have to be deployed. Doing a PRT along several train routes and through Canton would rectify this problem and provide rapid transit that could be used by a variety of people.

The map has other routes shown, but concentrating dollars on the Ann Arbor to Detroit route and the mid city and downtown routes would be a place that I would like to start.