PRT Frequently Asked Questions



1. Aesthetics: how will it look, how much noise will it make, will it look into adjacent living rooms or backyards? How much noise compared to car, bus or train?

Compared to the visual impact of auto or rail infrastructure ( i.e. pavement, street light posts, etc., the appearance of PRT guideways will blend into the surroundings. Noise levels will be much lower, pollution less than with autos, trains or busses. It is NOT proposed to place these routes in residential areas. Aesthetic considerations are major and will be subject to community consensus. The Pods and lines could well be aesthetically pleasing.
2. What is the initial route and what routes can be added later? Where are stations for each route?
The initial route has been suggested to proceed from the beach, through Downtown, into Harvey West area, and up to the University East parking Transit hub. Additional loops may be added later upon community consensus. Once the efficiency and very low cost of operation is demonstrated, UCSC would likely consider loops around campus.
3. What are the financing probabilities? What will the fares be, is government help required? Why is PRT cheaper than other transit systems? Who controls the system?

Funding for PRT will come from State or Federal government programs, Venture capital, investment of PRT developers, or a combination of any of those sources. This is largely a community decision. Some favor entirely private, some favor entirely public, some favor a mix. Construction costs and operating costs are much lower than other forms of public transport, if one includes the cost of highway construction and of maintenance operations. The system probably would be best managed by SCMTD (Metro). However, other options are also possible. Fares would be the same as the bus and a combined ride on BOTH the bus and PRT would cost just that single fare.
4. Safety: what happens in event of earthquake? What happens if a pod gets stuck between stations? What protection for riders in the event of accident? How can they be evacuated from pods? If one Pod stalls, must the entire system stop?
A second car can push a disabled car into the nearest station. Also, the system will have auxiliary generators in the event of a general power failure. In the rare event that neither of these were sufficient, the PRT controller will have trucks which can extend hydraulic rescue platforms to disabled cars and quickly remove stranded passengers. Design requirements will provide prevention of interruption from earthquake as much as is technically possible.

5. What is the average speed, and what are
time estimates from Boardwalk to Campus,
or Transit Center to Campus? How close
can Pods be to each other? How long will
waiting times be for a Pod?

The usual maximum speed is 40 mph. Typically, line speeds will be 25 to 35 mph. Time from the beach to the campus will average 7 minutes. Cars may be spaced about 2 seconds apart. This system can easily operate at .6 second intervals however, we will choose not to space cars that closely in initial systems. Safety regulations may specify what intervals are required. Typically, an empty pod will be waiting but, if no car is already there, a car should arrive within 90 seconds. In high demand times, waiting times could be marginally longer.
6. What safety precautions in stations and on pods re personal violence, or terrorism?

PRT doors will be opened only by their passenger(s). They are normally locked and only opened upon insertion of card keys. Closed circuit video surveillance will record all transactions if the community desires it. We are all vulnerable to terrorism, but preventive steps will be implemented as reasonably required
7. How will graffiti be avoided in stations and
pods? Are Pods cleaned regularly? How is
the throwing of materials from Pods avoided?
Video recorders may be placed on every Pod and at every station. It is a system design decision whether or not to have windows that open. BART and airport people movers do not have windows that open. Cleaning will be as with all other public transport systems.
8. Where will maintenance yard be?

The site of the maintenance yard probably will be in Industrially zoned land either in the Harvey West Park area or on the West side in the vicinity of the old Lipton and Wrigley's plants.
9. Will there be heating and/or air conditioning in pods? Will windows open? This is a design issue and would be decided by community consensus. There are sound arguments each way.
10. How many people and how much baggage can Pods accommodate?

Morgantown has room for 16 people in each car plus standees and baggage. Heathrow has room for 4 with baggage or a bicycle. The smaller the pods, the more efficient and flexible; most PRT vendors prefer 4 person pods.
11. How does the system avoid getting on a car with a stranger, especially late at night?

Think of PRT as a taxicab with a fixed route. If you are first in the queue, you may or may not opt to permit others going to the same destination to ride with you. Pods will be designed to permit exclusive use.
12. What is power consumption as compared to train, bus and car, and to what extent can solar energy power the system? The cost per passenger is about one quarter or less that of other common public transit modes and much less than that of private automobiles.

13. How much space do the stations require?

The space required depends upon the number of bays and will be designed based on the planned ridership. A minimal station probably needs at least 400 square feet. Larger stations with 2 or more bays will be designed for locations where very high numbers of passengers. Stations also double as community commons.
14. How are people expected to get to the PRT stations? Peripheral parking lots? How does PRT coordinate with busses?

PRT will be designed to complement other transit system and thus be a part of a unified system. Bus routes will access PRT stations. Bus usage is expected to increase as people use them to access PRT and use PRT to get to bus lines. The City plans that a park and ride facility will be located in the vicinity of the Highway 1 & 9 intersection.
15. If PRT is such a good idea, why hasn't’t it
been installed in the last 30 years?

This is largely a political question. We live in a car culture. In recent years, automotive transportation has dominated in political consideration of transportation and engineers were forced to develop only modalities that were already in use.
16. What is probable cost per mile for construction?

Costs range from $10 to $15 million per mile depending on whether or not solar panels are included. This compares with $20 to $ 50 million per mile for light rail, and about $37 million per mile in Santa Cruz for an additional highway lane. But all such figures are highly dependent on location and on the complexity required.
17. Will smoking/eating be permitted in stations or on Pods?

Smoking would be prohibited as it currently is in other similar public spaces. Eating and drinking would probably be prohibited but this too is a matter of community consensus.
18. Is there emergency communication from the Pods? Will cell phones work on Pods? Yes, an intercom or cell phone system will provide emergency communication. Pods will have a panic button to alert authorities and may divert the Pod to the nearest station. Cell phones will work on this system and cell stations will be added if needed.
19. What are proposed operating hours? Will the system be fully operational 24/7? Most services will be 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round. But, it is possible that some closed locations will not want access to their locations when they are closed on holidays or on weekends.
20. How can disabled people access the stations and Pods? Stations and Pods will be fully ADA compliant with elevators at stations where needed
21. Can the system accommodate changes in technology? What is probable life of a system? Yes, the systems will be updated as needed. As with other transportation systems, good maintenance will provide long life cycles. The system in Morgantown, West Virginia has been in continuous operation for over 30 years without a serious accident or failure. It is probable that there would be a similar life expectancy for a new, more modern system.
22. If we decide we don’t want PRT, can the
infrastructure be removed, and at what cost?

The entire PRT system is easy to un-bolt and carry away. Its fast to put up and would be easy to remove. Removal costs would be borne by the developer. We expect that an initial test track proposal will guarantee removal of the track if it was required because of failure to satisfy system requirements.
23. Is PRT possible on Highway 1? On the
Railroad right of way?

Yes, to both, but again this is a matter for the community and for political decisions. Extensions are relatively easy to deploy. The systems are modular and easy to replicate. We think that an initial, small system should be deployed and be successful before numerous other routes are contemplated. Its smart to focus on a single small project and get it done successfully before focusing on many other possible projects and possibly doing none of them.
24. Major County destinations are the Boardwalk, UCSC Campus, Cabrillo College, Downtown Santa Cruz, 41st Ave., Harvey West, Westside Industrial and others. How can PRT accommodate these? The first line will probably be to UCSC from the transit center via Harvey West. PRT can accommodate more routes when the community desires them. A line on Highway 1 could serve Watsonville, Cabrillo, 41st, Aptos and other areas. The rail line from the Boardwalk to Natural Bridges could accommodate PRT and facilitate a line in the vicinity of Western drive to UCSC. The rail line would seem an ideal route. But, as mentioned in #23, one step at a time...
25. What is the procedure? i.e. how to we get
started with a system? Test track? Probable
installation time?
There are several scenarios possible. Here is one: A computer simulation is planned for several possible Santa Cruz PRT designs. Simultaneously, Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) may be sent to known PRT developers and vendors. After that, a Request for Proposals (RFP) may be sent to those who responded to the RFP and are found to be qualified. The top two or three proposals may be invited to participate in a design competition. The winning design could then be used in a test facility of about a quarter mile. Upon certification of the test system, that designer would be invited to prepare a proposal for the Santa Cruz Pilot System. When that design is accepted, installation would begin. It will require a year to 18 months to develop the test facility and another 30 months to design and build the full system.
26. Will PRT eliminate the need for additional access routes to campus? What is anticipated reduction in auto traffic on Westside? PRT will BE an additional access route to campus. However, it will not bring more cars to campus, to our neighborhoods, or require new roads. Because it will be faster and less costly to use, it will drastically reduce usage of existing automobile routes. Anticipated reduction in auto traffic is about 8000 round-trips per day, growing to that number over 10 years. A period of growing acceptance by the public is to be expected. That was the experience with BART.
27. Some technical questions: how much does a Pod weigh? Average power consumption? A pod will weigh about 400 lbs. or more if more amenities are required. The power consumption is such that it gets an equivalent mileage of about 400 mpg if comparing to contemporary automobiles. The World Wildlife Fund in advocating PRT estimates that a single PRT car will require 839 BTUs per passenger mile. In comparison, a motorcycle requires 2,274 BTUs per passenger mile and a personal automobile requires 3,581. Numerous other assessments agree with the low power required by PRT.
28. What is the public process, chance for public feedback on design/location etc? Coastal Commission approval? This relates to initial route and any extensions? All of the usual public discussion venues will be required. Any full PRT system or pilot will require an Environmental Impact Report ( EIR ) and require approval of the City, UCSC, Caltrans, and the Coastal Commission. The PRT system is entirely dependent upon community participation and acceptance.
29. What web sites are there where additional
information can be obtained?
Please see our full Santa Cruz PRT web site: and the following link to Other PRT web sites.
30. Are there other PRT projects in operation or, in the mill, world-wide? Where and what designs?

Yes, there are several PRT systems in operation and many more PRT projects are continuing to emerge. The following links are to Wikipedia and other objective articles about these projects:

The PRT system at Morgantown, West Virginia has been in full operation for more than fourty years with almost no downtime and a virtually flawless safety record. About 30 other cities worldwide are seriously considering PRT at present. The Morgantown system is presently undergoing a three year modernization and upgrade

Taxi-2000, Inc., aka Skyweb Express, inc., was next to build a USA working PRT prototype. It can be seen at this LINK..

ULTRA PRT at London Heathrow Airport has been in public use since May 2011. Previous to that, the demonstration system has been in operated periodically at Cardiff, Wales for many years.

A subsidiary of the Korean steel company Posco, the Vectus prototype PRT system in Upsalla, Sweden began operation in the Spring of 2006. In April 2013 Vectus began test trials of a fully operation passenger serving PRT in Suncheon, South Korea. Based on the Vectus design and a new car design developed in partnership by TDI and the Italian design house Pininfarina, the new PRT system emerged in Suncheon. Just before its opening to the public, Vectus partnered with Eco Trans’ to operate and maintain the system. Eco Trans named the new system "SkyCube". It opened to the public about April 30, 2014 and has been operating since then.

Masdar in the United Arab Emirates has built and tested a small PRT system. It has been in operation since 2010 and was built by the Dutch company 2GetThere, formerly known as Frog.

In Guadalahara, Mexico, the Modutram PRT has a system in operation. Modutram is a consortium of Mexican companies, funded by the Mexican government, implementing PRT, which they call a "Lean Intelligent Transportation Network", or LINT. Its a small system intended to prove concepts for larger systems but also provides passenger rides.

PRT systems have been or are being considered in San Jose, CA, Orange County CA, Austin Texas, Cincinnati Ohio, Ithaca New York, Minneapolis Minnesota, Seattle Washington, Daventry England just to name a few. Literally hundreds of other cities worldwide are considering PRT and watching the leading developments closely to see if they turn out to be as good as expected.

For more information, see the Wikipedia website on Personal Rapid Transit which has far more detail than we can display here.

31. What is the expected noise level? The PRT sound level is equivalent to that of an electric car. There is only minor surface noise. Ambient noise should be minimal. It is probable that one would not hear a Pod approaching. While at least one PRT design features steel wheels on steel tracks, we hope to have rubber or urethane wheels on steel guideways for the lowest possible sound propagation.
32. Would the route go through or impinge upon either residential or natural areas? The most commonly discussed initial route is from the beach to the Transit Center via either Front St or the levee, to Harvey West and to UCSC via the South edge of Pogonip. There would be virtually no impact on residential areas.
33. What are anticipated costs and provisions for operations, insurance, liability and maintenance? Operating costs are low. Passengers direct the pods. There will be operations workers but the number per passenger mile is lower as a result of automation. Costs should be less than similar costs for light or heavy rail or bus operations. Liability and maintenance is similar to all other transit modalities. The accident-free records of Morgantown and London heathrow indicate a low cost for liability insurance.
34. What are the safety factors e.g. in event of earthquake or fire, and what are the downhill braking capabilities? All normal safety systems will be utilized. Automatic breaking is utilized and most key components have redundant duplicates. See answer 4 for related notes.
35. What is the estimated life of the system? Typical life expectance of these systems is the same as it is for other electro-mechanical systems. With good maintenance it is in excess of 35 years and after that time, updated system components will probably be desired.
36. If one Pod stalls, is the entire system down? No. First, each car will feature redundant propulsion. Failing that, technology permits one Pod to join with and propel another; the system would not be affected although there could be minor delay.
37. What are the possible propulsion systems? The most favored propulsion uses a linear induction motor or a linear synchronous motor. These electric motors are already in widespread use.
38. What percent of power supply can reasonably be provided by solar? We expect 100% required power to be supplied by solar however, this raises installation cost by as much as 20%. But, the added cost is paid off by fuel savings in less than five years compared to nine years for a comparable installation on a house.
42. Does the Pod move under or over the rail, and how many wheels? This depends on which design is selected. See our section of other PRT web sites to view the different design possibilities.
43. How much will it cost to ride? Fares for each trip are expected to be the same as the cost to ride the bus. A ride allows use of both bus and PRT to complete a trip. Of course, these fares will be the result of political decisions.
44. Can a passenger change destination while en route? This also depends on design and is an easy feature to include
45. Where will Pods be stored when not in use? Pods park in stations or at a maintenance yard when not in use or, travel to other stations empty if needed there.
46. What happens when there is an obstruction on the line caused for example by a bird, debris or a cat? Guideway maintenance will be performed on a daily basis and as needed. Video monitoring will facilitate dispatch of maintenance vehicles to clear any obstructions. It is also unlikely that a cat or other animal will be able to get onto the guideway except at a station. From train and light rail statistics, this is not a major issue.
49. Will PRT replace the automobile? Is it intended to do that? PRT will supplement the use of automobiles and make it attractive to use them less frequently, especially in town. There is no plan to replace all automobiles but, rather to provide wider choices. But, considering the likely effects of global warming, changing to solar powered vehicles such as PRT is prudent for human society.
50. How far apart will stations be? Initially, stations will be about one half mile apart meaning that a quarter mile walk might be necessary to travel to a station. More stations can be added as needed.
51. Will PRT encourage growth? No, PRT will be installed in already well developed areas. But, for that growth which will occur anyway, PRT will offer an opportunity for smart growth near PRT stations and reduce the number of automobiles needed in the area.
52. Assuming the line is elevated, how far apart are the supports? It will vary according to design but 90 feet is a currently accepted distance. Heavier vehicles require more closely spaced support posts. Think light!
53. What does PRT mean for the local economy? PRT offers the opportunity for local fabrication and construction jobs as well as good operations positions. The exceptional ease of transportation will be a major boost to the hospitality industry and make more visitors possible without more automobile traffic. PRT will also make visitor mobility possible in spite of our existing traffic jams. This better mobility will greatly expand the opportunity for visitors to go into the Downtown area, something long desired by our merchant community. Overall, PRT offers huge economic possibilities. This may be one of the most important reasons to adopt PRT!
54. What is the probable cost of stations, and can they be community spaces? Station cost is factored into the cost per mile however, it is generally accepted that an additional station costs about $400 per foot of additional guideway plus whatever amenities are desired. Stations also double as community commons.
Austin CPRT FAQ If you would like to read the FAQ page for CPRT in Austin, Texas, please click the link to the left.

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