Ithaca, New York – The thought of a driver, guided by computers car transporting people who want to be in demand is a futuristic concept for some. For Jacob Roberts, podcars – or PRT, for personal rapid transit – represent an important component in the here and now transportation.
“It is time for the design of cities human resources, not for the car,” said Roberts, president of Connect Ithaca, a group of planning and construction professionals, activists and students committed to making this New York the first college town PODC community in the United States.
“In the PODC … creates the perfect blend of privacy and autonomy of cars with the aspect of public transportation and, of course, use clean energy,” said Roberts.
With the oil crisis reached a zenith and federal legislators ready to begin shaping a new Bill of transport for 2010, Roberts and his colleagues believe the future is now for podcars – electric, automated vehicles light to travel in their own network independent of other traffic.
Unlike mass transit, two podcars carrying 10 passengers, travelers freedom and privacy of your own car, while reducing the use of fossil fuels, reducing traffic congestion and free up until now monopolized by the parking lot.
Stations on each block or every half mile, depending on need, a cyclist enters a destination on a pad, and a car will take the person nonstop to the location. Stations would have inclined pull-in bays so that some may stop for passenger cars, while others could continue unhindered in the main course.
“It’s almost like an elevator, but horizontally,” said Roberts, adding PODC trip would be safer than car travel.
The PODC is not entirely new. A limited version with larger cars to carry up to 15 passengers was built in 1975 in Morgantown, West Virginia, West Virginia and still carries University students.
Next year, Heathrow Airport outside London premiere of a pilot PODC ferry passengers to air on the ground. Companies in Sweden, Poland and Korea are already operating at full scale the slopes of evidence to demonstrate the feasibility. Designers are planning a PODC network in the city of Masdar, Abu Dhabi outside, which is constructing the world as the first zero-carbon, zero waste city.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen cities in Sweden are PODC planning systems as part of the country’s commitment to fossil-fuel free by 2020, said Hans Lindqvist, a councilor of Värmdö, Sweden, and chairman of Kompass, an association groups and municipalities behind the Swedish initiative.
“Today’s transport system is reaching a dead end,” said Lindqvist, a former member of Parliament.
Cars have dominated the city for almost a century, taking up valuable space while air pollution, said Magnus Hunhammar, chief executive officer of the Stockholm Institute for Sustainable Transportation, the world’s leading center PODC technology.
“Something has to change,” he said. “We are not talking about replacing the car completely. We are adding a little more on the transport strategy.”
Skeptics, however, podcars question of whether it can be more than a novelty mode of transport, suitable only for the limited area, such as airports, schools and corporate universities. Detractors, mainly the light rail advocates, for example, a system of PODC would be too complex and costly.
“It is operationally and economically unfeasible,” said Vukan Vuchic, a professor of transportation and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania who has written several books on urban transport.
“In the city, if you have to demand much, you could build these guides and pay millions to make, but have no capacity. In the suburbs, which would have capacity, but demand is so thin that he could not pay for the guide , Elevated stations, control systems and everything else, “said Vuchic.
Podcars normally run on an elevated guideway or track, but can also operate on the street. As a starting point, the pilot PODC networks can be built along the existing infrastructure, supporters say.
Ithaca Mayor Carol Peterson said a network PODC could be part of his north of the city in the long term transport plans and its development mission of urban neighborhoods that are sustainable and environmentally friendly to pedestrians. Ithaca has a long history of progressive achievements – this summer, which began the first of the entire community that shares the agenda of cars in New York.
In Ithaca, a network could connect the center of financial and business boulevard leading to the campus of Cornell University and Ithaca College, who sit on the hills flanking the city. When the two centers are in session, Ithaca population balloons to about 30,000 to about 80,000, causing major congestion in the city at the heart of the roads.
Santa Cruz, California, recently hired a contractor to design a small solar power system PODC that loop through the city and the center of the city along its beach.
The Institute for Sustainable Development of Transport predicts PODC system will be installed in an American city in the next five years, although it is likely that tens of millions of dollars. Due to the huge initial investment, the funding would come from the public and private sectors, officials said IST.
The capital cost is approximately $ 25 million to $ 40 million per mile, which includes guide, vehicles and stations, compared with $ 100 million to $ 300 million a mile light-rail or by the rail systems, according to the IST.
Although the plan of Ithaca is only in the conceptual stages, Roberts believes the city as a logical place for the country’s first community-wide network PODC, noting that the construction of the Erie Canal in New York in the early 1800s revolutionized the transportation business in a Young America.
“Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany are connected along a single line, the Erie Canal. Now, which are connected by the (New York State) Thruway. It would be easy to adapt. You can have a high-speed line rail, buses or even to offer travelers podcas stations, The podcars and take them wherever they want to go into the city, “he said.
PODC But developers say they have overcome most of the technological barriers and now must overcome the political and cultural barriers that lie ahead, which is equivalent to the mentality of the revolution that occurred when the Americans Hitcher their horses for a good becoming a nation of motorists.
“We are presenting an alternative to cars for the first time in 100 years,” said Christopher Perkins, executive director of transportation unimodal Solutions, a California company that builds podcars operating in the magnetic levitation instead of wheels.
“But if we look back 100 years, he saw that we made the transition from horses to cars. I think we are ready to make another transition,” he said.