Fact-Checking the "PRT Boondoggle" Blog
A project of the PRT NewsCenter

Monday, November 07, 2005

See Him Flail Wildly

Originally published ©2005 Get On Board! PRT

"Now it can be told"

The lead up to, and confirmation of, announcement of two groundbreaking PRT projects set off a flurry of denial and self-delusion in the anti-progress mini-community.

In September, this site passed on advanced word, gleaned from our sources, that official announcement of a PRT system at Heathrow Airport was imminent, and also that a contract would also be announced soon for PRT in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). At the same time we linked to an interesting article, originally found in a cached page on Google, of a Kuwaiti article that quoted aParsons Brinckerhoff representative promoting PRT as a potential option for Kuwait City.

The Minnesota anti-PRT activist immediately sprang into a frenzy of inaccurate research:
Sept. 18, 2005:
I've checked with Parsons Brinckerhoff and they do not have a PRT project in Dubai and they do not know of any PRT project in Dubai.   Source
Who at PB? You gotta write these things down. Anyway, he got his arab countries confused. The PB rep, Glen Thorn, was talking about Kuwait, not Dubai:
"Kuwait is now reaching the trigger point," said Thorn. ...One solution Parsons Brinkerhoff has for this is the futuristic Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). ..."Kuwait is the ideal candidate for this type of system due to the compact nature of its city center," said Thorn. Source
The subject of Dubai only arose at the beginning of the report, in a "Kuwait-too" style of introduction: "Kuwait may shortly join Dubai to start on urban rail projects..." The Minnesota anti-PRT activist did not stop at this misrepresentation. He then decided to go with the Hail Mary play:
There is no PRT project in Dubai.
And there is no PRT project at London's Heathrow airport either.
The desperation-play failed. In fact it was a clean interception, for within days the Advanced Transit Association announced:
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), in United Arab Emirates, is expected to issue in November a tender for a contract to design and build a personal rapid transit (PRT) system within the complex. Source
The story was originally reported in the Middle East Economic Digest. Then, on Oct. 20, the really big news:
Advanced Transport Systems Ltd (ATS) announced today that BAA had chosen their innovative ULTra Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system, to provide better access to its terminals at Heathrow. The agreement between BAA and ATS also includes an investment of £7.5million in the company in return for 25% of the equity. Source
(This was followed by two British news stories, one from the mainstream press: Driverless pods to get airport users off to a flying startBAA sees future in electric driverless taxis)

What was the Minnesota anti-PRT activist's response? Those expecting anything but attack and ridicule were disappointed (but probably not much):
Oct. 21:
Watch the silly videos on the new ULTra PRT website and have a good laugh at this cheap and crummy "Revolution in Public Transportation". Source
Oct. 22:
A 1.2 kilometer "network" (yawn).
Sounds like it's inside the complex... they won't have to worry about the lack of air conditioning in the pods.Source (see also See How He Makes It Up)
Also Oct. 22: he alleges "a transit expert" wrote to him:
The system itself proves "PRT is a joke". US$100 million for 1.2 km comes to about $83 million/km or $134 million/mile - for a system with minuscule capacity. Source
The "1.2 km" reference comes from the MEED report. Our sources inform us the reporter got that wrong: 1.2 km is the width of the area to be served. The Minnesota anti-PRT activist didn't bother to check into this.
Oct. 23: he implies ULTra isn't new or PRT:
Computer-guided vehicles are nothing new. A company called Frog makes them and Frog is mentioned in the ATRA announcement about the Dubai PRT  proposal.  
Clearly, ULTra has taken the Frog computer-guided, 4-wheeled electric buggy concept and stuck in [sic] on a roadway, not a slim guideway Source
Actually, there's nothing clear about this bizarre line of reasoning. The ATRA (MEED) announcement merely mentioned Frog as a company that supplies PRT technology. There is nothing that says ULTra=Frog. ULTra merely uses a proven navigation system made by Frog. ULTra's 25 mph vehicle is not the same as Frog's much slower vehicle, which is not even strictly PRT (while it can run on a guideway, it is designed to be able to run in a nonexclusive area, such as a parking lot).

Oct. 24: he attempts to link PRT to the egregious Rep. Tom DeLay, through selective use of the {snip}:
"The Metropolitan Transit Authority is holding this week's Advanced Transportation Technology Forum at the behest of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land...
"Unfortunately our transportation policy, and spending in particular, is still governed by an outdated vision," DeLay told the audience of about 100. "This past year, the city of Houston - after a long, hard struggle - installed the same oldmass-transit system that was installed in Calgary, Canada, the year I was born: 1947.
"It seems to me Houston can do better..."
"This is important work you are doing, and I look forward to helping you do it in the future."
"Personal rapid transit : Running on narrow overhead guideways, a fleet of small, individual pods are computer-dispatched to stations when requested by passengers." Source (Houston Chronicle, via Houston Architecture Info Forum)
Seems like words about PRT came out of Tom DeLay's mouth, right? Wrong. Everything after the {snip} came from a sidebar/box, added by the newspaper, a list of 11 transit modes that were presented at the MTA forum. So there's a good chance that Hot Tub Tom doesn't even know what PRT is. And we bet he would never act against the long term interests of light rail, seeing as how rail consultants and contractors direct most of theirdonations to Republicans-- examples:
Parsons Brinckerhoff
Ch2M Hill
Booz-Allen Hamilton
Herzog Contracting
Now it can be told: the Minnesota anti-PRT activist wants to give billions of tax dollars to Republican megacorporations, in order to keep building transit systems that don't reduce congestion.

Oct 25: he attacks a seminar on PRT being held way way far away in Sweden:
The IST/Podcar homepage uses an ancient picture from the Raytheon PRT project. It's hilarious that they chose Raytheon as an example of PRT since it was a huge, expensive flop Source
Raytheon? They made critical but solvable mistakes. Old, old news. As he himself wrote, "ancient." Never mind that the forum's objective is "large scale light PRTs ("Podcars") as a sustainable road away from congestions, accidents, environment problems", or that its agenda included "The car is dead." Now this can be told: the Minnesota anti-PRT activist opposes sustainable alternatives to cars, congestion, accidents and environmental problems.

Oct 25: He derides innovation as "gadgetbahn" (a term originated by anti-progress rail supporters and applied to any innovative transit technology):
Gadgetbahn projects never die... they live forever in a state of suspended animation on the internet.
Here's a partial list of undead gadgetbahn projects.
Whatever happened to Ford's "Prism" PRT program? Source
He's so blind to facts that he doesn't even realize that Prism is not PRT. Prism was a dual mode concept--road vehicles drivable on an 'automated highway.' He just sees a new technology and reflexively hates it.

Oct. 26: See him be derivative. In response to a pro-PRT Sex Pistols parody, posted at "PRT Is a Joke" Is a Joke, the Minnesota anti-PRT activist felt he had to try his hand at parody as well. But he doesn't have the talent for it, as one commenter observed:
Hey bozo, an observation: it's not parody if you leave intact half the original material.
Oh, and "Oh we're so pretty"- 5 syllables.
"Oh we're so PRT"- 6 syllables. Source (Comment 1)
Oct. 28: Back to the Frog subject, the Minnesota anti-PRT activist posted pictures of the Frog 'Phileas' peoplemover and an ULTra PRT vehicle. Horrors! They both seem to have doors and four wheels! Maybe that's why he thinks innovative technologies are no better than automobiles. At any rate, he fails to mention the fact that Phileas, while not yet suitable for urban rapid transit, works.
Oct. 29:
For a real time-waster, read the silly announcement about Dubai and Heathrow on the Planetizen websiteSource
Yes, real silly: the article reports that Peter Calthorpe (only the head of the Congress for New Urbanism"recently advised Dubai and has also called for new transit circulation technology "that offers fundamentally different choices in mobility and access" as a complement to existing smart growth tools." Now it can also be told: the Minnesota anti-PRT activist is against progressive New Urbanism/"smart growth" policies.

Nov. 5: Back to the start of this history: the Kuwaiti article that featured Glen Thorn and Parsons Brinckerhoff. The Minnesota anti-PRT activist claims that Thorn told him "I am not aware of any PRT system being designed or built in Dubai." Well, why should he? The article itself reports Dubai's team is led by Mitsubishi, not Parsons. Interesting that the Minnesota anti-PRT activist mentions nothing about what Thorn said about PRT as an option for Kuwait. If the article is wrong/false, why no blanket denial from Thorn that PB is doing any PRT work, rather than a very narrow statement on Dubai? Are we to believe he asked Thorn nothing on that subject? The Minnesota anti-PRT activist did report he had difficulty in doing research:
I could not find a direct link to this particular story to the Arab Times web site. Adding further intrigue to this snarky tale of PRT disinformation is the fact that the Arab Times's mailing address is a post office box in Houston Texas. Source
As though there can only be one Arab Times. There's at least one other, in Kuwait, which would explain why the article was about transit in Kuwait City. And I'll give the Minnesota anti-PRT activist credit for reporting his own embarrassment:
"dear sir[,] arab times (houston , tx ) has nothing to do with the arabtimesonline which is published in kuwait."
Maybe Mr. Gow can find a direct link for this story and share it with us. Source
We don't ordinarily do research for the opposition, but in this case we'll disclose that the original Arab Times story is quite easy to find, and can be purchased here. So undo the padlock on your coin purse! (Or follow the new link at the end of GTF's copy.)

Also Nov. 5: he casts aspersions on the construction industry news site ITP, and reporter Zoe Naylor:
...see if you can verify the facts in this story:

Sunday, 9 October, 2005 Up the Creek: Extending Dubai’s trading hub to build a new CBD
"Business Bay itself looks set to be well-served in terms of transport. In addition to the Creek extension (which is likely to promote the use of water taxis), the provision of a Public Rapid Transport (PRT) system is being considered within the masterplan." 

I contacted the editor of this web site and he said the reporter, Zoe Naylor would contact me and verify the stuff about PRT in the article. Zoe Naylor never sent me an e-mail.
Just for fun, Google "Zoe Naylor" [link]
Strange place Dubai... lot's [sic] of weird stuff happens there [linkSource
Again, it's so flattering for the opposition to ask us to do their research for them. Like arab news organizations, more than one person can have the same name too. Apparently there's an attractiveAustralian actress named Zoe Naylor. While it's certainly possible she is also a business reporter, I'm guessing that the ITP story was written by a different Zoe Naylor.

But what is really at issue here is that the Minnesota anti-PRT activist is questioning the veracity of reporter-Naylor's work, merely because she wrote about PRT. And he's trying to use Google to associate her with cheesecake photos of actress-Naylor. That's a denigration of reporter-Naylor's professionalism, not to mention anti-feminist. Maybe that's why reporter-Naylor hasn't gotten back to him. Now it can also be told: the Minnesota anti-PRT activist has no problem smearing anyone who writes about PRT, even those who merely report.
Search Zoe Naylor articles at ITP

He should have continued quoting Naylor's article:
"Part of our vision is to be environmentally friendly," says Mohammed Al Dabal, Business Bay Development, Creek Extension, Dubai Properties, "and this means introducing a transport system that reduces car usage." Source
Research shows there is a Creek Extension project, and that it is going to look like this (and it's not the same thing as the DIFC, which means the Minnesota anti-PRT activist can freak out about TWO Dubai PRT projects). But the Minnesota anti-PRT activist is not particularly good at research, as already established.
Any other problems he has with Dubai (such as the borderline-xenophobic remark about "weird stuff"), he needs to take up with Mohammed Al Dabal.

And the purpose of the veritable snowstorm (snow job?) of denial and self-delusion? Probably to buryhis hugely embarrassing claim:
"There is no PRT project in Dubai. And there is no PRT project at London's Heathrow airport either."Minnesota anti-PRT activist
Thank goodness for permalinks. 

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