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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Spotty Calls Out Green Candidate Julie Risser on PRT

Here. Julie Risser left the following comment.

Campaigns are an opportunity to discuss public policy and ideas for strengthening our community. That being said, I ended up on Avidor's site for pointing out that PRT costs less than light-rail and that I was concerned about the Southwest LRT line because of population density. I never said I wouldn't support it - I indicated concerns. So much for dialog!

In 2004 the City of Edina and Hennepin County conducted a study to find out if PRT was viable for the Southdale redevelopment project. The conclusion was not to use PRT here. Does this mean we should never ever ever consider this transportation form? No. But the Southdale PRT study is a wonderful precedent for how to move forward; consider a transit option carefully, conduct a study and then decide what to do. It would be wise to see how PRT pans out in other communities.

There are three PRT projects being buld as we speak. The first ground-breaking was in Uppsala, Sweden last January by a Korean company named Vectus - it should be rideable later this year. Sweden has another project in the town of Hofors started by part of the Swedish National Railroad. It is called, Skycab, It began in June and it should be completed sometime in late 2007 or early 2008. Yet another company, ULTra, is building a system for London, England's Heathrow Airport. It should be up and running in 2008. This project is the only project that I have seen with a price attached. It is coming in at $8 million per mile.
The real question - which Avidor failed to ask - is should we invest in PRT now. And the answer is no - we do not have the resources or to my knowledge a suitable well-researched project for PRT. But it is cheaper than lightrail..ha! I said that again. If the circumstances, i.e., if a study shows it is the best transit system why not use it?

What is fascinating is that the PRT dialog is extremely polarized. Apparently some lawmakers who did not want light-rail in the Twin Cities supported PRT in the hopes that it would derail light-rail. There are individuals like Avidor who condem anyone who won't completely rule out PRT now and forever. Then there are those who think PRT can solve all transit issues and could be used for getting children to school. I think PRT would be really problematic as a replacement for buses - how do you get enough pods arriving to one destination within a ten minute time period so school can start on time? Also have you seen kids on the bus where there is adult supervision? Imagine hundreds of little pods with elementary children zipping about with no parent or adult present. Then there is the issue that you would be sinking a heck of a lot of financial resources into a transit system that would be used pretty much only two times each week day and nine months out of the year.

In conclusion its not just some Greens, Mark Olson and Michele Bachmann who support PRT...the Swedes and Brits are promoting it too. But again my support is along the lines of let's not rule it out as an option and see how it works in other countries.
Julie Risser

Avidor has a point by point response to Julie over on Spotty's comment thread here.

Spot's got a follow up the describes the wackiness that is PRT titled: "Julie Jetson"....