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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Middle-age Wasteland

(Meet The New Lies -- Same As The Old Lies)
In case you haven't noticed (or, more likely, haven't cared), anti-PRTeabagger Ken Avidor has been blogging a lot about the proposed "PRT lab" in Winona, MN.

1. He's claiming PRT will blight historic buildings, presenting a Photoshop:


This is like his famous fake "Ugly PRT" photo, which depicted a PRT design no one is making, at a location no one was proposing installing it. Hey Ken, you know what happens if citizens don't want PRT on a certain street? Build it on a different street.

Here is the real initial guideway route.
If Ken is concerned about PRT spoiling views of the Target, Wal-Mart and hospital, then I invite him to say so.

2. He's wondering whether the City jumped through all the legal hoops in creating the proposal--
Major projects have major costs. [Duhhh! -Ed.]

It is unclear whether the anonymous designer of that route engaged citizens, businesses and public officials in a public discussion as required by law (NEPA), particularly when it comes to cost and who will pay.

The city won't put local tax dollars toward the [PRT] center and is unlikely to seek state funding, city officials said... [ellipsis in original]

There is an established process for determining the cost of transportation projects like the PRT project proposed for Winona.

That process is outlined in this Federal Highway Administration document - (MAJOR PROJECT PROGRAM COST ESTIMATING GUIDANCE PDF)
--and asking "What was the level of citizen participation for this plan?"

News flash -- if they haven't followed the rules, then the "PRT lab"
won't happen! How stupid does Ken Avidor think Winona's government is? As stupid as him?

3. About ULTra, he's claiming its stated 3 second headway is "hokum.*"

Part I of this claim*
He quotes from the intro to a presentation from an Advanced Transit Association conference.
Note: Slide #10 of the presentation mentions a shuttle application with a "5 second minimum headway". This only refers to the headway along the guideway. The small end-of-line stations shown in the shuttle graphic on slide #11 could not operate with headways below about 15 seconds.
Hmmm, let's see. Avidor is agreeing the number of PRT vehicles that can use any one station is less than the number that can be carried on the main guideway. Congratulations, Ken, you've unintentionally gotten something right!

Ken's objection is only a problem for PRT if all vehicles traveling on the line have to stop at every station. But they don't, since stations are all offline, and pods don't stop until they reach their rider-selected destination station. This is one of the basic principles of PRT -- that Avidor doesn't know it shows how unknowledgeable he is.

Furthermore, by 'exposing' this issue in his blog Avidor creates the impression ULTra has hidden it. Except for a table on this page:

Far from hidden, it's on page 13 of this document on the ULTra website.

Part II of this claim*
He quotes more from the presentation:

This is because all vehicles have to reverse direction at a single point within the station, and furthermore the limited number of berths would not give time to deboard and board passengers A larger station with more berths and multiple turn-around locations would be needed to process a vehicle every five seconds.
Ken links to the presentation in question, but doesn't disclose an important thing about the bolded passage: it applies only to one-sided, parallel ('sawtooth') berths at end-of-line stations (and it's a consultant's generic example, not even specific to ULTra). Avidor again reveals his lack of PRT knowledge: if you want to avoid having a reverse-single-point, then you don't put stations at ends of lines and do design your stations in one of these ways:

4. Winona wants to seek a federal grant for 80% of "PRT lab" funding, but
Ken Avidor claims "PRT Guys Want an Earmark [i.e. "pork"] for Winona Pods." He doesn't know the difference between a grant and an earmark! Or maybe he does, and this is another smear -- people hate pork, they don't hate grants.

You choose: either
Ken Avidor is purposely misrepresenting the facts, or he's ignorant of them. Before deciding, you should know he claims "I have the facts, I know my stuff", "I have proof of everything I say about PRT", and to be "perhaps the leading skeptic of Personal Rapid Transit".

Also: The building in #1 above isn't on the "PRT lab" map:

View 2 places in Winona in a larger map

gPRT Ken Avidor is wrong again -- how many chances does this guy get?

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