In response to the 1973 Oil Embargo, the US Senate
asked DOT for mobility solutions to prevent hardships in future
embargoes. PB-244854 found an answer in Automated Guide ways and
Personal Rapid Transit. Morgantown PRT opened in 1975 and has delivered 110
million injury-free passenger miles. Germany built a similar system
with Cabinetaxi (updated system at Dortmund, Germany).
Modern computer networks and materials will result
in a Physical-Internet(TM), built at 10-30%
of the cost of 1970's networks.
Mired in administrative delays, the success of
systems like Morgantown were not reinforced. We lost 30 years to
incrementally change from oil based to sustainable infrastructure. Now
we must build significant systems within five years or face radical
consequences from world politics, Global Warming and Peak Oil.
Indicators of these consequences are two wars in the last 16 years,
9/11 and a tripling of oil prices in the last 6 years.
Call for action in 1974 faded as the oil crisis
Study resulted in the conclusion that "PRT
has the highest potential service level and may have the highest
patronage level of all AGT [Automated Guide way Transit] systems."
The Study accurately predicted what would be its
Federally sponsored R & D has not
included a coordinated program for conversion of successful products
into operational systems.
UMTA's R&D programs [US DOT Urban
Mass Transit Administration]... have neglected near-term ...
simpler approaches to correct transit problems.
Finally, institutional failures may have
Automate Guide way Transit, An Assessment
of PRT and other New Systems, March 1975, a 375 page report
SHUTTLE- LOOP TRANSIT (SLT:
automated systems dedicated to solving a specific transit problem)
SLT system research and development to
date has been largely financed by private industry. However, there is
little incentive for industry to spend additional funds for follow-on
development, testing and Product improvement without positive
inducement in view of UMTA’s [US DOT Urban Mass Transit
Administration] negative attitude regarding capital grants for new
systems. The government’s R & D program also offers little
encouragement to pursue SLT since most of the budget is devoted to the
more complex classes of AGT.
SLT systems appear worthy of careful consideration as
transportation alternatives for many specialized urban transportation
problems. UMTA’S research and development program does not
emphasize improvement of technical operating characteristics and
reduction of SLT system costs.
UMTA’S technological R & D is
not matched by a corresponding program to develop a better
understanding of problems in the area of economics and public
acceptance. SLT systems should receive emphasis in such a program.
An urban demonstration project for SLT
appears justified. Such a project should concentrate on gathering
economic and acceptance data and on improving the technical operation
of the system.
There is a lack of criteria for
qualifying SLT systems for capital grant funding. There is no apparent
mechanism within- UMTA for the transfer
The Morgantown project is significant
because it represents the most ambitious effort thus far to build a
full-scale system capable of providing service on demand from origin to
destination and to [create] vehicles on 15-second headways in a real
life environment. The prime contractor, Boeing Aerospace Corporation,
has delivered 18 of the 45 vehicles required under the contract and
expects to complete the prescribed acceptance testing in mid-1975.
[Morgantown has since logged more than 100
million injury free passenger miles. A savings of lives, Green House
Gases, energy and congestion.]
RELATIONSHIP of GOVERNMENT AND INDUSTRY
R & D
UMTA's R&D programs for new systems
have emphasized advancing the state of technology but have neglected
near-term system improvements to perfect and apply simpler approaches
to correct transit problems.
Better results might be achieved from
cooperative arrangements between government and industry.
The scope and objective of UMTA's AGT
Technology Program needs to be clarified.
Transit research and development is
receiving a disproportionately small share of federal R&D funds.
Dortmund suspended train. Follow-on. Bus sized vehicles.
ULTraPRT at Heathrow
Kiva Systems, example of robot warehouse similar to JPods. Recently purchased by Amazon for $775 million.