> Steve Raney
> February 9
> Personal Rapid Transit in Mountain View
> Steve Raney is Principal at Advanced Transport Systems North America,
> makers of ULTra personal rapid transit (PRT). In 2001, Steve presented
> to TASC about PRT for Palo Alto, when Steve was representing Cities21,
> a nonprofit think tank. In the past, Steve was Principal Investigator for the
> U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s "Transforming Office Parks into
> Transit Villages" study of Pleasanton’s Hacienda Business Park.
> Steve will describe a PRT system concept connecting the downtown
> Mountain View transit center with businesses in the Shoreline and Moffett
> Field areas. ULTra is an electric, battery-powered, 200-mpg-equivalent,
> elevated, automated transit system with many 4-person vehicles.
> First system service is scheduled for London Heathrow Airport in Spring 2010.
> Working as circulator transit, ULTra is faster than a car. ULTra makes
> carpooling and transit more effective, by solving the "last mile problem."
> See www.ultraprt.com.

Steve began by showing us a five minute video done for the BBC News about the London system, which basically connects their new Terminal 5 to a parking lot. One key advantage of PRT is that instead of you waiting for a vehicle, the vehicles wait for you.  You go directly from where you started to your destination along grade-separated guideways with no waiting. The computer figures out the routing for each ride individually.

Each PRT vehicle seats four people with plenty of room for luggage. They get their power from batteries, and have a top speed of about 25 MPH. Each car is individually computer controlled – no driver. Each stop has an offramp and exit area, so traffic is not hindered by other vehicles loading and unloading.  The video ended with the corespondent taking a ride in the vehicle. Says BBC reporter Josie d'Arby:  “Something from a James Bond movie. A serious bit of kit. It’s so Star Trek. Incredibly quiet, smooth. Not quite normal. It’s weird, completely weird. Brilliant fun.”
During further discussion Steve explained that guideways cost about $7 million to $15 million per mile, cheap to build compared to most other systems. (see: http://www.ultraprt.com/cms/index.php?page=cost-per-mile-7m---15m)
Also, in places where all of the real estate is already in use, putting one of these systems above or below what you've already got is a relatively cheap way to expand options. He showed us appealing pictures of raised guideways (http://www.ultraprt.com/fullGridGuideway.JPG) and 2nd story stops on the outside of modern looking buildings (http://www.ultraprt.com/MartinAmericaWithPRT.JPG); as well as subway tunnels buried just deeply enough that ground level pedestrians could walk on the glass tunnel roof (http://www.ultraprt.com/cms/uploads/images/culvert.jpg).

Steve Raney is currently proposing a system to connect Mountain View's downtown transit hub with the Bayshore businesses, Moffett Field, and Shoreline Amphitheater: http://www.ultraprt.com/mvprtgoogle.htm  
He handed out nice looking maps that lay out an eight and a half mile network that connects it all together with 24 stations and 120 cars. He is claiming that the finished system will take you from the station to your job in about six minutes (no waiting at lights, which a car would take eight minutes to do. He is asking us to support the system in the upcoming Feb 23 City Council meeting where a PRT resolution will be discussed.

During Q&A somebody asked how many companies are in the industry. Steve said there are about thirty, but nobody really has a good working system anywhere yet. The London airport system is the first one anywhere.

Steve thinks a PRT system that connects San Jose Airport to the businesses close by, the VTA and the parking lots and rental terminals would also make a lot of sense. See:

The cars in the system use lead acid batteries. For every minute of charge time in the station, they get about five minutes of run time.

Steve considers this system to be ideal for "last mile" situations, where people want to get from densely distributed destinations to a transit hub.

For more information please visit: