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

Friday, December 07, 2012

Sense of proportion

"King Kong was only three foot six inches tall."
Peter O'Toole to Steve Railsback
The Stunt Man
1980, 20th Century Fox
Scale. It's always good to put things in their proper scale. Context, if you will.

The history of this blog is replete with examples of us pointing out when Ken Avidor ignores or omits context, all the better to incorrectly portray Personal Rapid Transit technology. I bet he thought he could sneak two non-contextual photos by us in his November 15 post, Suncheon Bay Vectus "PRT" Revealed to NOT be Personal Rapid Transit (Berther, 11/15). We could probably call it a Screen Play -- a Big Lie, 'Suncheon PRT stations aren't offline', running interference for this:

Two pictures in which there is nothing familiar to impart a sense of scale. Sure, thought Ken, I'll just call them 'massive.' It's not like anyone can prove otherwise -- it's all the way over in Korea.

He thought wrong.

An examination of the photo of Station One and Depot in the official Vectus PDF does contain a good clue about scale: workers on the ground.

Let's propose those workers are 5'7."  That would make the station platform only about 28 feet above the ground. And the station roof only about 40 feet above the ground.

For even better sense of scale, behold these recently released photos showing a rather compact Suncheon Station 2:
PRT Consulting

PRT Consulting
As for the 'massive' main guideway to Station Two, it is holding 2 sets of rails, one going in each direction. Therefore that guideway is twice as wide as what's shown above at Station One. Here's a photo of 3 guys standing on single guideway at Suncheon, just imagine it twice as wide.

PRT Consulting
It's official: Vectus lists 'typical' guideway width as 1400mm (4.6 ft. Ref: page 23 here). But the vehicles are 2100mm/6.9 ft wide (p.22), so the little pods are actually wider than the "massive" guideway.

gPRT Massive Liar

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Laffable Luddite again displays ignorance of basic PRT concepts

I think we've pretty well established how Ken Avidor is the Worst Expert In The World when it comes to anything to do with PRT. So his new blog post "Suncheon Bay Vectus "PRT" Revealed to NOT be Personal Rapid Transit" can best be described as maintaining his pattern.

Avidor writes as follows (pay attention to what he has put in bold, they are not in the original):

The Vectus October update (PDF) has a preview of their much-ballyhooed Suncheon Bay project in Korea.
Station Two is currently under construction and due to be completed by the end of December 2012. Both stations will feature in-line berths, platform screen doors and touch screen passenger information/destination selection facilities.
According to the Wikipedia PRT article which is mostly written by fans of PRT,  offline stations are  a defining characteristic of PRT:
In PRT designs, vehicles are sized for individual or small group travel, typically carrying no more than 3 to 6 passengers per vehicle.[1] Guide ways are arranged in a network topology, with all stations located on sidings, and with frequent merge/diverge points. This approach allows for nonstop, point-to-point travel, bypassing all intermediate stations
So Vectus is just another monorail/people-mover that exist in airports, amusement parks etc. all over the world. Not the revolution in transportation we were promised, not "faster,  cheaper,  better" than conventional transit modes.

He really thinks he has something here, and sinks his teeth in. Except he's comparing apples and oranges: the fact is a PRT station is offline, but its berths can be either inline or not inline.

Nomenclature review:
  1. A station is where multiple pods can park to load and unload passengers; it is offline on a siding so vehicles going to other stations can bypass it.
  2. The positions where pods park are berths; they can be sawtoothed where pods park at an angle so they can pass each other in the station, or inline (!!!) where pods park nose to tail.

Here is a PRT station at Masdar City:
Sawtoothed: Berths angled, not inline. Station is offline.
Next, a PRT station at West Virginia University:
Berths nose-to-tail, or inline. Station is still offline.

You choose: Ken Avidor doesn't understand what an inline berth is, or knows what it is but has decided to deliberately confuse it* with inline stations.

Update 1 (11/16): Martin Pemberton, Vectus director of Sales & Marketing, has confirmed to NewsCenter that the Suncheon stations are indeed offline --
Maybe some confusion in terminology. By 'in-line' we mean one behind the other. The stations are 'off-line' from the main track, ie. in siding as you call them.

The clock to see how long it takes Ken to retract his post starts... now.

By the way, while the official definition of PRT calls for offline stations, a demonstration system with only two stations (like Vectus at Suncheon) wouldn't need stations to be on sidings. A trip from Station One that bypassed Station Two would end up -- where? I invite Ken   to try to fill in the blank.

Basically, there is no need at Suncheon to bypass a station. Doubt could be cast on Vectus should they ever offer inline stations in a larger, multi-station system. But we know they are capable of offline stations. An offline station was a feature of the Vectus test facility in Sweden, which received government safety clearance.
Uppsala, Sweden. Vectus pod enters offline guideway.

^ * i.e., lie

P.S. Ken  also has a second post today, in which he declares:
"elections have consequences... the [Nov. 6, 2012] election slams the door on any chance of public funding for PRT projects"

For proof he cites a quote from 2011 by one Minnesota legislator who is skeptical of PRT, who is the new chair of the senate transportation committee. And the quote contains no vow about door-slamming, it's all an Avidor prediction; we know how accurate he is about predictions.

In short, elections would have consequences for PRT in Minnesota -- had PRT been an issue in any Minnesota election contest, which it was not (sorry Ken, you mentioning it doesn't count).

At any rate, no future public funding for PRT projects in Minnesota represents no change from the past. Ken is celebrating no change.

PRTher, rhymes with Birther

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Terrifying Misrepresentation!!!

Today Ken Avidor the Laffable Luddite is back, and he's in fine Jell-O-like form.

"VIDEO: Heathrow T5 Personal Rapid Transit Pod Customer Service: " Truly Shameless"
Pod promoters always downplay the possibility of failures for PRT. The fact is failure can happen with any mechanical system. What is especially terrifying for a passenger is to experience a failure without any human available to explain what is going on.
"Video"! "Shameless"! "Failure can happen"! "Especially terrifying"!

Ken then shows you the video. Of a man terrifyingly* stuck at the Terminal 5 pod STATION, trying to speak with Customer Service but not getting satisfaction, which "PRT is a Joke IS A JOKE" is certain must never happen in any other everyday situation in the whole wide world already.
OH THE HUMANITY! Frame from the terrifying video of the terrifying Heathrow Terminal 5 pod station. At any time they might have walked next door for a snack (although I hear Gordon Ramsay kitchens can be nightmares) while the problem was being resolved.

"Pod promoters" don't really "downplay" failures, either. In fact, they speak and write extensively on how they try to design their system with backup components to reduce the odds of failure. Maybe that makes them sound overconfident, but they certainly don't "downplay."

In addition, it's hard to make sense of the source blogger's complaint:
We had to listen to a voice hiding behind the screen, who after a while stopped picking up the help phone also. 

As though he expected an airport representative to be crouched behind the little kiosk. We don't even know why the pods appeared to be not in operation.

But the blogger does make it clear that:
Its [sic] not bad that it failed, because these things do fail, what was worse was that they refused to send anybody down for the 20 minutes it was out of order. 

The complaint was about Customer Service (the human factor), NOT the Ultra PRT technology. And at 20 minutes in duration, a decidedly minor complaint.


Update 1: Robert Llewellyn's Fully Charged -- "About 90%" of Heathrow Pod users have pushed the :) button.

^ *So terrified he had the presence of mind to record the video 


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Epoch, In Your Face-level defeat for the Laffable Luddite

UK Tram -- a British industry group that promotes light rail and trams -- has issued how-to guidance on promoting Personal Rapid Transit projects.

Ken Avidor will now have to claim UK Tram are "gadgetbahners," have been "hoodwinked," and are "just like" Michele Bachmann.

Keep an eye on Ken's "PRT Moondoggie" blog for the out of context quotes he's bound to pull from UK Tram's PDFs!

Thursday, July 05, 2012


An effort on PRT by the Indian state of Kerala has been underway this year (1, 2, 3), and today a brief article in Yentha.com gives both a status update as well as reflection of the uncertainty surrounding the project. Clip:

Trivandrum: Infrastructure Kerala Ltd (INKEL) had brought up the idea of pod-cars around the same time when monorail was being pushed as a Mass Rapid Transit System for the city. As of now, monorails do not appear likely as the government is waiting for E Sreedharan's report on the feasibility of Trivandrum to have a metro rail system. And the future of pod-cars seems hazy as well.

. . .

While INKEL came up with the idea, NATPAC was given the task of conducting a feasibility study regarding the project.

"The feasibility study has been conducted and the report has been submitted to INKEL," informed T Elangovan, Head, Traffic and Transport Department, NATPAC. "Now it is upto [sic] them to submit the project report."

He refused to comment on the conclusion of the report and only said: "The study was conducted for the 7 kilometer stretch between Vellayambalam and East Fort; it wasn't a study on how the pod-car project would be implemented but merely if the pod-car project is feasible or not."

In other words, there are monorail and pod feasibility studies for one corridor in the city of Trivandrum, the latter is done and the former isn't. But the fact the infrastructure agency has yet to release the results of the PRT study gives the unnamed reporter the impression that no news is bad news. That's clearly an opinon.

And the overall impression is that, really, as yet nothing can be concluded about the report one way or another.

Unless you're Ken Avidor the Laffable Luddite. True to form, he cherrypicks one sentence to tweet about:

Yup, Ken takes it out of context again -- taking the characterization of PRT in a specific bureaucratic process in one city ("hazy as well" as monorail), and broadening it -- 'hazy as well' in all of India!

And glossing over pod projects in Amritsar (1, 2) and Gurgaon as "hype."

What a hazy guy.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Possibly the funniest Laffable Luddite post...

...Since the last one! Ken Avidor's headline BLARES --

"Seattle Transportation Examiner.com Reporter [sic] Not Reporting His Opposition to Recent Seattle Personal Rapid Transit Proposal"

Not reporting on it, but quietly whispering his opposition on his personal blog.

The Laffable Luddite says:
"He's covering monorail!"
"He's NOT covering monorail!
He then goes on to breathlessly quote all the stuff I reported - a week ago - at PRTJJ's sister blog, "This Week In Precipitation" (TWIP, The Editor's Blog of The PRT NewsCenter™). And what does "quietly whispering" mean? How is posting something in a normal size font 'whispering'?

For some reason,  Ken  has a bug up his butt about my not reporting it at Examiner.com, as though some massive pipeline of Seattle Transportation News has been filtered to omit mention of the Great PRT Conspiracy. 

News Flash -- I don't report anything on Examiner.com anymore, not in over TWO years, which was when I decided Examiner to be pretty much a joke as a citizen journalism umbrella.

My material is still there, it's still damn good stuff, but I haven't been adding to it, and I won't be.

Examiner doesn't really vet anything anyone writes. Content-wise there is no difference reading an Examiner-branded blog as opposed to something on Blogger or Tumblr -- quality depends on the author, being part of Examiner adds no value.  And so in the last couple of years Examiner has become, in my opinion, a home for a lot of right wing nutjobs. Why would I want to be part of that brand?

I wouldn't, so I don't and I'm not.

Why has Ken Avidor decided to obsess about Examiner? I don't know and really don't care -- although I am amused.

If you want to know you could ask him -- if he allowed "PRT Moondoggie" readers to post comments.

* * *

Ken also writes
David Gow has finally acknowledged the existence of the PRT proposal for his city on his Get There Fast website's news page, with this comment:
Get There Fast takes no position on this proposal.

revealing (yet again) that he has absolutely no idea what he's talking about. I'm designer and admin for  GetThereFast.org, but it's not 'mine.'  It is run by a Seattle-area committee as an advocacy/community outreach website about PRT. Therefore MY editorial voice is not present on the page of news links.  That GTF takes no position on the CenTran monorail proposal (again, I covered it here) is simply a statement of fact, and we want to stay out of what is, essentially, a political campaign.

As for "finally" acknowledging the existence of the "PRT proposal," I want to extend my apologies to Ken. New posts of news on GTF can lag because it often takes me a while to get to it, since I give PRT NewsCenter most of my time.

Although, Ken,  my not having enough time for GTF is really your fault. All your anti-PRT idiocy creates tons of work for me here at "PRT Is a Joke IS A JOKE."

Update 1:
I suppose I should acknowledge the possibility that Avidor thinks he is Valiantly Taking The Fight To The Enemy On His Home Turf. But the way he's gone about it comes across as 'Don't cover PRT your way, cover it MYYYY way.'

Ken, I'm telling you this as a friend -- get some help for the OCD.

Allow comments, Ken! Cluck cluck bawk bawk BAWK! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Certain Demeaner

Ken Avidor served himself up for us to write about today, with the following tweet. Apparently he just couldn't resist the opportunity to conflate Bachmann's 2003 PRT bill with the current St. Croix River Bridge project.

The one thing has nothing to do with the other -- unless you equate the bipartisan support for the bridge in the MN congressional delegation with the 13 Democrats and 5 Resmuglicans who were pro-PRT in the 2003-04 state senate session.

We'll leave behind the matter of the bridge, since Ken's handlers seem to have helped him find the correct side of that issue. But what of this 'promotion' of PRT by Minnesota Public Radio?

It was a story in MPR's News & Features section. Got that? Not Opinion or Editorial.

In Ken's eyes, if a news story doesn't agree with his propaganda it must be enemy propaganda. That's how author Dan Olson is turned from a reporter into a promoter.

You know, this reminds me of the time Ken Avidor took issue with an article about a possible PRT project in Dubai:

"Personal Rapid Transit" PRT Disinformation Part II and III (Ye Olde PRT Skeptic Blog, 11/5/05)

"Fun"? There was nothing fun about it. Ken wasn't satirical, there was no irony, he employed no pun or other wordplay. 

Nope, it was just Ken Avidor suggesting you Google sexy pictures of Zoe Naylor while thinking of an accomplished business reporter who happens to have the same name.

Far from fun, it was demeaning. Ken Avidor might as well have told journalist Naylor to hold an aspirin between her knees.

Ken makes MPR sad

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

The reason it's called TWITter

I would call this one really unbelievable if not for having been documenting all this crap for the last *mumble* years. 

You know when you're planning a local transit trip, or waiting at a stop or station, and you decide to check Twitter to see why your bus or train is late?

All the big transit agencies have a Twitter presence. New York MTA has one. My home town King County Metro has one. My favorite Portland Trimet has one. And even Ken Avidor's Metro Transit in the Twin Cities has one.

Having these Twitter accounts is part of the public service. It's a new social media way of letting people know where the bus is. It's designed to reduce the number of surprises for transit riders. It makes transit more convenient.

But not if you're Ken Avidor. To him it is proof of techno-infeasibility -- if the transit system status being tweeted is that of a PRT system:

That's right. West Virginia U is doing what so many transit agencies do, informing its students when and where the PRT system might be up or down.  But in Ken's brain it's support for his argument that it's "Time to pull the plug on the WVU PRT." And replace it with - ? He has never said.

What a Luddite. 

Let's apply the same logic to Metro. Every time the Minneapolis Hiawatha line goes down it means that light rail line is a boondoggle! The Avidor Rule says so!

:: widget ::

Also today:

I am reminded of a recent back-and-forth that took place on Twitter between myself and one @JCTRambler, a Follower of @Avidor who, in addition to not reading linked material, essentially called me a liar:

No further response. An apology would have been nice.


Sunday, February 05, 2012

Important question marks

Yesterday I answered a tweeted question from @JN_Seattle ("John Niles") about Vectus PRT:

Pretty straightforward.

Yet this a.m. the Laffable Luddite ignores the question marks in Niles's tweet, and jumps to the conclusion:

Which is a good example of the basis of the Hail Mary (Business Plan, Jan. 21, 2012): Ken Avidor needs the reader to NOT click the link, read the referenced tweet, and learn that Niles is just asking me questions, and reveals nothing about his position on pod transit.

The only ways Ken can know Niles's position on pods is -- a) ask him or b) read his mind. We know he hasn't asked him.

The actual purpose of Ken's tweet is a Hidden Ball (ibid): he is repeating his phony linkage of PRT with the Discovery Institute (Today's Provocation, Apr. 15, 2006).

The Deconstruction

1. I don't know John Niles except by reputation. He worked at the Cascadia Center, the Urban Issues think tank housed at Discovery.

2. Wacky Discovery promotes Intelligent Design; wonky Cascadia promotes high speed rail, commuter & DMU rail, Portland-style streetcars, and plug-in cars.

Where Discovery is The Munsters, Cascadia is Marilyn.*

3. We can make an educated guess about Niles: he is either conservative or doesn't care a whit about politics. Political contributions by him in federal or Washington state elections are: zero.

Today Niles is working on an EV-based project at CATES, another Puget Sound-area think tank -- hardly what a drill-now/drill-here Republican would do. And the number of writings on the Web by John Niles on subjects not related to transportation politics is exactly:  zero, plus or minus zero.

4. Niles's position on light rail is well known. He's been openly against it, based on the size of the investment and operating subsidy. This can be researched at his website, Global Telematics. Instead, he is for Bus Rapid Transit.

On these stands we part company, since I believe the public nature of transit means The People ought to be able to authorize and subsidize anything it wants, if an electoral majority decides it is worthwhile.  And readers of This Week In Precipitation know my distaste for BRT.

5. Niles's only connection with PRT is that his site archives papers written in the 1990s by then-State Rep. Dick Nelson (D-Seattle, an engineering PhD) and Berkeley economist Don Shakow, funded in part by the Bullitt and Medina foundations (extremely reputable Seattle foundations). Nelson and Shakow mention PRT along with a host of noncontroversial proposals.

Ken will say this is enough of a connection. But that 1990s activity did not arise from a vacuum. The concurrent Raytheon PRT program had created expectation of availability of a PRT system to act as a circulator-feeder for light rail.  So much so that Sound Transit nee RTA brought PRT under its umbrella, culminating in a $30 million Innovation Fund which, among other things, was to conduct a PRT demonstration. This is the landscape in which the Nelson-Shakow work took place.

6. It is true that Cascadia, and therefore Discovery, sponsored a 2005 public workshop in which PRT was discussed (no policy statements resulted). But if that makes Niles a 'pod person,' then he is also a commuter rail person and a passenger ferry person, since those were the subjects of other meetings in the series. Hardly disreputable.


Update 1:

Feb. 4: Nathan Koren states his opinion (see first Feb. 4 post) that bureaucracies plan and purchase transit systems without much regard for public input.

Feb. 5: Ken Avidor claims Koren dismisses the importance of public involvement in decision-making.


* I suppose I have to note that I would not date Marilyn, lest Ken try to imply something.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Yet Another Luddite Veto

Where is the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist sticking his nose today? The experimental Modutram personal rapid transit test system in Guadalajara:
A unique operational feature is that the vehicles will keep moving slowly through stations without completely stopping. This operation has proved successful when tested with handicapped passengers. Passengers alight as soon as the vehicle enters the station while others board just before it leaves the station. If no one boards, or if boarding is incomplete, the vehicle will stop in the station. Stations are arranged so as to keep boarding and alighting passengers separate (even to the point of having separate staircases).

Why do they do it that way? We don't know, their reasons will come out in due course.

The point is that Ken Avidor doesn't know either. He just ridicules it on Twitter:

And despite Modutram being a design that has been conceived, designed and built by a Mexican university and funded by the government of Mexico, Avidor blogs:
Personal Rapid Transit Pod People Invade Mexico

More locomotion lunacy from the PRT Consulting blog about a Mexican PRT project called Modutram

"Invade"? Right, Ken -- those Mexicans couldn't possibly engineer something high-tech all by themselves.

"Polish PRT?"

Ken Avidor (@Daily Kos)
read the PRTJJ coverage

Update 1:
Don't tell Avidor about this other transport technology that also moves slowly in stations without completely stopping!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Business Plan

One of the most useful things to know when playing defense against Ken Avidor is that his playbook only has a few pages. He has four basic moves:
The Cherrypick.  This is where he only uses facts favorable to his claims, discarding the rest. Examples: repeating 'Bachmann's PRT boondoggle' while ignoring the 13 Democrats who supported PRT in the Minnesota Senate; blaming a Minnesota High Speed Rail Commissioner's separate support of PRT for cancellation of Ohio and Wisconsin HSR, ignoring that Governors Kasich and Walker just want President Obama to fail.

Far And Away. He lies about places he thinks would be difficult to verify. Blaming a few years of PRT planning for over a decade of neighborhood decay in England is an example of Far And Away. Others include: claiming to be from Alameda; depicting PRT in locations where no one is proposing putting it (1, 2); making a big deal about Amritsar merchants protesting pod transit with a dharna fast, when dharnas are actually very common in India.

Hail Mary. This is when Ken says something prima facie wrong, or a misquote, and hopes to get away with it. Examples: A PRT system for one city "would be in the trillions of dollars"; a dropped sentence fragment turns an anti-oil tweet into a pro-Keystone pipeline tweet.

The Hidden Ball Trick. He states something as fact, tries to camouflage it with bluster or under a layer of narrative, and hopes no one factchecks it.

Avidor's mainstay is the Hidden Ball.  Remember when he portrayed the PRT option at Alameda Point as 'environmental regulation-busting', but the 'environmental regulation' turned out to be an anti-density law -- and therefore anti-Smart Growth? That was the Hidden Ball.

So was his claim that one guy used PRT to "stop rail transit" in Minneapolis in the 1970s -- but bureaucratic infighting was the more believable culprit.

Or the time Ken tried to link an Ultra board member's company to responsibility for a multi-fatality train accident, but in reality another company had been found culpable? That was the Hidden Ball too, as was "recently a snowstorm shut down the [Morgantown] PRT."

What is great -- I count on it -- is that Ken runs these same plays over and over even though they never work.

One of the earliest examples of Hidden Ball was 7 years ago. Read this 2005, pre-PRT Is A Joke IS A JOKE writeup at the NewsCenter, "See How They Distort". In it we took apart Ken's phony claim:

Taxi 2000 Document Reveals Safety Concerns Can Make PRT Systems "Unworkable".

    ...The following are excerpts that show that Taxi 2000 itself believes that PRT is a very risky investment.
"Federal and State safety regulation of automated transit systems can make PRT systems unworkable. Since there are no examples of our technology currently in operation, we cannot predict what sort of state or federal government safety regulation might apply. At this juncture, the Federal Transit Administration - which would exercise whatever regulation might apply at this level - has left the matter up to the states. Management believes the states will look foremost to the work of a committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which has developed a set of safety standards for "Automated People Movers" (APM's). We have been following that work and think at this point it will pose only one problem: eg., "brick wall stopping" requirements for the control system (borrowed from railroad signaling practice). The requirement is that if one vehicle stops instantaneously, the next vehicle must be able to stop before hitting the stopped one. That requirement would inhibit the sort of minimum vehicle headway used in our design, but it would not affect operation of the first, lower density systems. In the context of PRT, "headway" means the nose-to-nose time spacing between two sequential vehicles. Setting a minimum allowable headway determines the maximum carrying capacity of the guideway. We will work to have the headway requirement amended, since we believe it is inappropriate to PRT technology, but there is no guarantee we will be successful in that regard.

...The above paragraph is not some earth-shaking secret admission of a fatal flaw. In fact it is a fairly standard "safe harbor" statement, something all companies that offer stock are required to do, to apprise prospective investors of every conceivable risk, no matter how remote...

Every public company has safe harbor statements in their prospectuses, annual reports and 10-K filings. So if everyone gave full, literal and equal weight to everything in safe harbors, no one would ever invest in anything.


It's as if Ken thought no one would think to look up "risk factors" investment on the Internet and see there are over 25 million hits.

Return of the Hidden Ball

So when Ken Avidor posted this yesterday at The PRT Moondoggie blog, I immediately recognized the play:

...Here the "Business Plan" includes the lengthy bios of J. Edward Anderson, A. Scheffer Lang and Raymond A. MacDonald. Then it gets around to... the money:
The Taxi 2000 business plan requires funding of twenty-five million dollars to be raised in successive rounds over a thirty-six month period. The funds will be used for completing specifications, building of the test track facilities, world-class procurement and marketing.

Exit Strategy

The opportunity for investor exit should occur between months 54 and 72. At this juncture, Taxi 2000 should have a strong backlog of booked sales, as well as a substantial number of highly interested potential customers. Initial system installations should be complete and operating, with other systems under construction.

Two potential opportunities for investor exit will be an IPO or a strategic acquisition by a large corporate interest. The strategic acquisition of the investor position would be the more likely scenario but this would be determined by the climate of the public equity markets at that time.

Interesting - a business plan with an "Exit Strategy"?.... [ellipsis in original] anyways, according to Mpls/St. Paul Business Journal:
The firm has raised $2 million in a $24 million fund-raising effort to pay for the testing facility and other corporate needs, according to SEC filings and city documents.

This is a variation of Hidden Ball I call The Smathers, after the possibly apocryphal story of the politician who smeared Sen. Claude Pepper by relying on the audience not knowing the meaning of words:
Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, he has a brother who is a known homo sapiens, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy.

The story here isn't the Taxi 2000 business plan decennial, Avidor is keying on the words "Exit Strategy."

Avidor's oldest talking point is that PRT is a scam, a taxpayer ripoff. So even though he is on record as saying
"If those people want to pursue PRT with their own money, that's okay with me"

here he is calling attention to "the money," the search for investors, and to "Exit Strategy," to distort the meaning of "Exit Strategy" in order to make it sound suspect.

I get Ken's subtext in full, he means: Taxi 2000 planned to get taxpayer dollars to build a PRT system, and the original private investors would cash out and run, leaving the public holding The Bag.

It's as if Ken thinks anyone couldn't just Google investor exit strategy definition and get over 62 million hits, such as:
The Exit Strategy - Strategies for Investor Exit

The majority of Business investors will be looking for a planned exit strategy worked out at the time of investment. It will be very beneficial to work out the ideal exit strategy for potential investors before you seek funding. Investors will need to know when they can realise a return on investment so this is a crucial area of the pitch to get right.

Investors want a maximum return on initial investment and a well thought-out exit strategy provides them with the incentive to invest in your venture.

That is to say, investors in startups want to know when they'll realize a return on investment -- which, like it or not (and I don't really), is the whole point of venture capitalism as now practiced.

What we know: Every 'good' startup business plan includes an investor exit strategy.

Therefore when Ken Avidor writes Interesting - a business plan with an "Exit Strategy"? his interior monologue is screaming, 'Don't bother reading this, because I am an ignoramus. I don't know what I'm talking about. I really just don't know.'

gPRT Wall Street Weak

Friday, January 20, 2012

He's green until he's not

My fellow environmentalist and bicycling enthusiast Ken Avidor (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA) is still trying to exercise his Luddite Veto on the Subcontinent (Amritsar, Punjab, India) -- all because the local authorities worked with an Indian consultant to select a transit system that is right for community needs.

Not surprisingly, those needs are like those in cities all over the world, and have been defined:
Indian cities are not maximizing the density influence to reduce the emissions. International research shows that the dense areas usually have fewer emissions. In India’s case, many cities which are dense are showing high emissions because of insufficient public transport and high influx of private vehicles.

...Then again, why do cities like Bhopal and Amritsar have higher per capita emissions than Chandigarh? Why do cities like Hyderabad and Jaipur have high travel activity than a city like Kolkata? The Indian cities analysis shows that having public transport facilities (e.g., Mumbai and Kolkata) and land-use transport integration (e.g., Chandigarh) can not only better transport be provided but also emissions and economic activity can be decoupled.

This is the lack of transit investments problem.

Two And Three Wheelers in India reported Amritsar had 9,903 auto rickshaws, which is 913 per 100,000 population. It's the third-highest in the whole country (iTrans, New Delhi, June 2009).  This is the local point-emissions problem.

Amritsar is also a city where streets are dominated by, in addition to auto rickshaws, pedicabs and other types of paratransit. All together they constitute a 94% mode share of all passenger travel in the city (Arora, A., Jawed, F. and Jarnhammar, M., Green and Pro-Poor? The Case of Informal Transport in India, 2010). This is the congestion problem.

Furthermore, the community is acting to ban vehicular traffic from the area of the 18th Century Golden Temple, in order to protect the historic structure's marble and gold walls from exhaust fumes.  This is the pollution/emissions and historic preservation problem.

An electric mass transit system is what the local authorities have decided should be a step in addressing these problems, and they have chosen pod transit. There is too much congestion for expanded bus transit, which would also mean emissions, and there is not enough right of way for rail.

But Ken Avidor doesn't care about letting Amritsar make their own decisions. This is what he says:
...there are other, less expensive ways to go from the train station to the city's main attraction:
An auto-rickshaw from the train station to the temple should cost around Rs 20, while a cycle-rickshaw will run about Rs 30.

There is a free bus service from the train station to the golden temple run by Golden Temple trust.

Ken wants Amritsar to maintain its dependence on rickshaws and buses -- he doesn't care if they have congestion and emissions. And in his PRT Moondoggie blog he uses it as an excuse to write -- yet again -- about the Cincinnati "Skyloop," which he continues to think was an actual PRT project rather than a technology screening and study that was part of an official public planning process.

Avidor also takes the opportunity to imply Skyloop (which, again, did not go past the 2001 study phase) is to blame for the current lack of progress in Cincinnati installing streetcars. Apparently electric transit is OK for America, not Amritsar.

It's a new chapter in an old, old story -- Ken (white American) thinks he knows what's better for the (multiethnic) people of Amritsar than their own democratically elected officials and highly educated planners.

So maybe he thinks Amritsar is in Indiana.



2. Another Luddite Veto (2011)

3. Short & Stout! (2010)

gPRT Policy analysis beats art college YET AGAIN!