Fifty years later, is it time for PRT?

Writing in The Globe and Mail blog, Richard Gilbert asks whether technology has finally caught up to the promise of personalized rapid transit. He cites examples of automated transit that emerged from the urban transportation revolution that started in the 1960s, from Morgantown’s (WV) PRT (which he calls group rapid transit, or GRT) to the minirail built for Expo 67 in Montreal. Also on his list are driverless systems like San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit and Vancouver’s Skytrain. He says that two factors delayed widespread PRT implementation. The first was lack of adequate control systems:

The processing demands imposed by PRT — with large numbers of small vehicles travelling a huge variety of routes in often unpredictable ways — cannot be met by centralized systems. For safe, reliable operation, each vehicle has to have substantial ‘intelligence,’ which until recently has not been technically possible.

The second obstacle to widespread PRT adoption has been the dominance of the automobile. But as gas prices go up and processing technology advances, Gilbert argues that the time may be right for PRT. Link to full story in The Globe and Mail blog.

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