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Saturday, July 01, 2006

The U of M and Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)

The PRT proponents in Minnesota, mostly extreme right-wingers like Michele Bachmann, Mark Olson, Ray Vandeveer and a few holdouts in the Green Party never fail to mention the University of Minnesota's connection to the PRT concept as in this 2004 Southwest Journal article about former 6th Ward Councilman Dean Zimmermann's PRT plan for Minneapolis:

The technology has been in the works for over 30 years. Professor Ed Anderson of the University of Minnesota (which owns the patent) developed it.

That was then, this is now:

"The technology was always more of a gadget than something that serves much in the way of practical transportation. In The Transportation Experience we called it a technology in search of a market.

Assuming it works technically, does it work economically. I.e. under what conditions does it move people more cost effectively than they can move now. Establishing this niche is essential for any technology. Clearly the market does not yet believe such a niche exists.

There are always complaints about subsidy for the competition. But that is weak, if the economics for PRT were really strong, that subsidy would not matter."

Read more at The Transportation Experience. David Levinson is an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota.

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