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

Friday, December 20, 2013

A poor muckraker

Ken Avidor has always fancied himself a 'skeptic' of Personal Rapid Transit, as well as an investigative 'muckraker.' Repeatedly he has called PRT a scam/hoax/etc.

But we can't help but notice that when the PRT NewsCenter exposes a real PRT fraud, Avidor says not one word about it.

Happy Holidays.

Not even an Atta Boy

Monday, September 23, 2013

Not synonymous

From reading the Laffable Luddite's tweet about Princeton's Alexander Street/University Place transit task force dropping PRT from consideration, you'd think the bulldozers were already idling at the construction site:

Yes, Ken says they killed a PRT project.  Cue visions of hard hat-wearing engineers throwing down blueprints and stalking off in high dudgeon.

Except if you actually click on his link, what you find is that what Princeton has dropped is not a project:
Princeton Council heard testimony at their September 9 meeting from Kevin Wilkes, the Chair of the Alexander Street / University Place Transit Task Force. He reported that the possibility of a heavy rail extension of the Dinky Line to take it up to Palmer Square is no longer being considered. Use of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) technology has also been excluded from further discussion. However, several other transport modes remain under discussion.
Did we get that? "Considered." "Discussion." They are talking about the transit modes they could implement, and dropping some of those. What has been stopped about PRT is scoping --which, at this early stage, is basically just an on-paper technology assessment.

Such discussion does not a project make.

Why was PRT dropped? The article itself says the reason is unknown, and speculates it's because PRT is "relatively unproven" (not noting the existence of Heathrow and Masdar). But an educated guess can be made, based on this statement about the proposal to extend the existing 'Dinky' heavy rail [italics in original]:
We don’t have the turning radius; we don’t have the ability to run the catenary lines up any street in town. We eliminated that as a possibility.
If they're restricted as to where elevated wires can go, that probably also applies to elevated modes.  The cliche putdowns "pie in the sky," "The Jetsons," and "anti-transit scam" do not make an appearance. Not even "more of a Shelbyville idea."

The verdict:

Update 1
So Ken has tried to learn from the above, posting this today (10/2/2013):

Hedging his bets, he calls the Amritsar PRT thingamajig a "Proposal."

Except the Amritsar PRT thingamabob has reached the stage of laying a foundation stone, selecting a vendor, and drawing up detailed plans. I'm afraid that takes the Amritsar PRT thingy past the rank of proposal, all the way to being a real project.*

The verdict:

Too bad, Ken.

* Although, the headline on the linked article is "Much-hyped Pod transit system for Amritsar may get scrapped" (emphasis added), so as of now it can't be said to have actually bitten the dust yet.


Saturday, September 07, 2013

Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?

...is what Ken Avidor might have shouted, if he is familiar with Becket, upon reading this Avi-adoring reader comment on the recent Mountain View Voice article, Pod Cars have new champion in Silicon Valley (highlighting added):

Posted by Bill Hough, a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2013 at 11:31 am

"Podcars or "Personal Rapid Transit" is an idea that's been around for decades yet never seems to actually get built or solve any real-world transportation problems. It basically combines the worst of both worlds: low vehicle capacity of the private automobile with the expensive infrastructure of a fixed guideway transit system.

This topic has been discussed at length. I recommend a couple of articles on the Light Rail Now website.
First, there's "Let's Get Real About Personal Rapid Transit" by Ken Avidor at Web Link

Avidor points out that, "PRT has a solid 30-year record of failure. Its main purpose in recent years seems to have been to provide a cover enabling its proponents to spread disinformation about real, workable transit systems. Except for the occasional laboratory-scale prototype, PRT actually "exists" largely in computerized drawings, in promotional brochures, and in cute, ever-successful animated simulations on the internet."

"The unsubstantiated claims of PRT proponents are always presented in the present tense as if the system is a proven success ... which, of course, it certainly is not. Promoters never seem to fail to bash real transit, such as light rail (LRT), as "old fashioned technology". Sadly, the media rarely check the veracity of PRT publicity and propaganda."

A longer, more technical article is "Personal Rapid Transit – Cyberspace Dream Keeps Colliding With Reality" and can be found here: Web Link

"Despite the persistent and fervent claims of its promoters, repeated attempts to implement a working PRT system, even in very small-scale scenarios, have invariably failed. Not a single PRT plan, during these promotional efforts over the past 40 years or more, has seen successful implementation even in a small test application, much less a major, heavy-duty, citywide rapid transit application. Early would-be PRT installations, such as the AirTrans system at Dallas-Ft. Worth Regional Airport, and the PRT at West Virginia University at Morgantown, eschewed any attempt to provide true PRT-style, small-vehicle, customized origin-destination service, and were implemented in effect as line-haul automated guideway transit (AGT) peoplemover systems with some innovative features (such as offline stations)."

And finally, the good folks at Light Rail Now have put up a helpful list of links to various Monorail, PRT, AGT, and "Gadget Transit" Analyses at Web Link

Council member Mike Kasperzak and the rest of the City Council need to realize that "podcars" are the latest manifestation of the PRT fad which has been around for decades yet never seems to get built.

Ken must have been so upset. I mean come on -- poor guy. Look at it from his perspective. He hides all of his hateblogs from the general public and enjoys a summer of peace and quiet, only to have this "Bill Hough, a resident of another community," remind everybody of the anti-PRT propaganda he helped write, but posted on websites not under his control.

"Hough" does make for fun reading though. It's as if zero time has passed since those execrable documents were written -- 'Heathrow Pod? Masdar PRT? Suncheon Ecotrans? What are they?'

Obviously the guy doesn't read the Laffable Luddite Chronicles or Get There Fast.

Leave Ken Avidor alone! You're lucky he performs for you bastards!!!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hot Potato - Update 2

It used to be that when Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist Ken Avidor wanted to smear pod transit as a right wing conspiracy, all he had to do was trot out one of his state's Republicans who had said or done something supportive in the legislature.

Leaving aside the issue of why Minnesota was able to produce, elect and nurture whackjobs like Michele Bachmann and Mark Whoever despite the (best?) efforts of Ken  the Dump Blogger, we have to remember that the pro-PRT community for many years was limited to one citizens group with limited resources.

Republicans were generally anti-light rail and therefore seen as the path of least resistance, and they became a focus of pro-PRT efforts. This was a mistake, especially since it turned out there were plenty of Democrats willing to offer bills on PRT

My point is that it was easy for Ken to trot out Krazy Eyes and Slappy whenever (and that was often) he needed to dismiss PRT as fringe.

But he can't do that now, now that there are Heathrow pods, Masdar City PRT and Suncheon pods in operation, and plenty of non-Republicans are interested.

He can't do it, but it doesn't mean he won't try.

Recently Ken  tried to use his old technique of linking a politician to 'pod people,' hoping to achieve shaming. But this time the politician is Jim Oberstar, who is giving the keynote at this fall's Podcar City conference at George Mason University.

Oberstar is no small-time loon like the aforementioned duo.*  For one thing, he's a Democrat. And in his 1975-2011 House career he amassed enormous gravitas on transportation issues. He was only Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  In fact, Oberstar is an avid cyclist and promoted creation of bike trails during his long career. You'd think Ken would remember that. Awkward.

Jim Oberstar doesn't need Ken Avidor's approval.

Will Avidor attack Oberstar more as the Podcar City conference gets closer? It would be the stupid thing to do, but -- Nah; I think he'll drop it.

^* UPDATE 1 -- Ken quotes us out of context again! He tried to slime Oberstar, now tries to make it look like we did it.

UPDATE 2:  James Oberstar, 1934-2014

Get it together Ken, you're barely trying

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Turd Stirs

Phil Krinkie, a Republican who cares so much about PRT that he hasn't said anything about it in seven years, has entered the race* to succeed Michele Bachmann in Minnesota's 6th congressional district.

So out of all the important issues facing the district and our nation, what is the ONE thing Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist (semi-retired) Ken Avidor decided to tell his Twitter followers about Krinkie?

You guessed it:

Ken seems to think that there are simply no remaining issues in this race other than -- what a coincidence -- Ken's obsession. 


* "Phil Krinkie joins GOP race to succeed Bachmann," St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 20, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Cannot Comment

Thanks to reader "Not THE Harry Harrison" for alerting me to this:

At first I thought maybe this was Ken's extreeeme attempt to deprive me of material. But no, it's about all of his blogs, not just Dump Bachmann:

At first reading it is tantalizing for what he doesn't say -- not I don't know, or There are technical difficulties, or even That god-damn Blogger. What it sounds like to a reasonable person is I've been told to keep my mouth shut.

And here is his explanation for public consumption:

Wow. The "Dump Bachmann" blog (and all of Ken's blogs) has been retired with Bachmann yet-to-be-dumped.

The Speculationing. Yes, SPECULATIONING.

Let's note that in general "I cannot comment" is a very legalistic expression. People say it when they're in trouble. They say it when arriving at the police station to assist with their inquiries.

Maybe litigation is occurring, or is in the pipeline, about something or things Ken has written in one of his blogs. Something serious and with merit, otherwise those blogs would still be up and Ken would be blogging about it. Of course, libel can be libel even if distribution is limited.

This is the "case" mentioned by AnitaMaria, but I can't believe that has any merit, coming as it does from a right wing whackjob. I certainly wouldn't pull down my blogs in face of a nuisance suit from such a quarter (unless I had written something that -- oh never mind).

Or maybe Ken simply doesn't understand that to be of value an archive needs to be accessible to would-be researchers. ANY researchers. Otherwise your archive enters the realm of conspiracy theory-style 'secret knowledge.' Yes, Stupidity would be the simple explanation.

More later (I suspect).

Don't hold a wake for the Laffable Luddite's blogs yet, though:

I suppose I COULD treat it as a victory

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nothing Meaningful

Mock Journalist, Part XIII

The new Ken Avidor blog post is the work of a lazy, lazy man.

You can tell from the title: Was Minnesota Personal Rapid Transit Huckster Run Out of Fayetteville, Georgia on " a Greased Rail" After "Press Release Hoax"? (PRT Moondoggie, 3/12) The question mark at the end means 'I have no idea.' Lazy.

The story is about the foot-in-mouth attempts by the JPods PRT company to secure an installation deal with the city of Fayetteville, Georgia. We relayed this sorry excuse for transit development starting a month ago at the NewsCenter (see 2/13) -- the linked stories show how JPods basically counted its chickens before they were hatched.

The overview is that JPods accidentally or on purpose released a press statement prematurely claiming Fayetteville had agreed to host the company's first pod installation. When it found out, the city council was not pleased, and the gambit (or mistake or misunderstanding or whatever it was) appears to have been pivotal in the council decision to not let JPods build on/over public rights of way. Build it on private land, they decided.

Which is absolutely the correct decision in this case, simply because JPods has zero track record it can cite to reassure a community it can bring off a successful project. JPods wanted Fayetteville to be the guinea pig for a pod design with no prototype, no testing results, no regulatory sign-off, no project team, no manufacturing capability, no supply chain. In effect, JPods wanted Fayetteville to host a testing facility -- and that is not the job of local government, even if (as JPods claims) the project funding was to be 100% private. The public still 'pays' by allowing use of public ROW, and in any negative impacts on overall transportation and land use.

That Ken gets the story right this time is due only to the fact that he sat back and waited for the Fayetteville media, the NewsCenter, and the Transport-Innovators Google Group to do the work of information gathering as well as criticism.

And he concludes today's entry by telling any public officials who might be reading (I suppose it's possible), "If you're wondering whether PRT is a boondoggle or not, Google is your best friend" -- an unwitting admission that Ken Avidor adds nothing meaningful to the coverage or discussion of personal rapid transit.

But you knew that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Non-video video

It's 2013!

The Laffable Luddite is so desperate to find bad PRT news, he's posted audio of a Minnesota legislative meeting with new transportation commissioner Charles Zelle. The remarks are actually neutral and do not result in any policy statements about PRT in Minnesota (i.e., pod transit is still going nowhere in the state). But it's not negative toward PRT either, so Ken has to call it "PRT rears it's [sic] ugly head", complete with obligatory Ken typo.  

Also: Ken's blog post on the topic, slamming both of the transportation commissioners (Zelle is second) appointed by Democratic Governor Mark Dayton. PRT continues to exist for Avidor only in a conservative Republican bubble he has constructed, ignoring nonideological PRT activity around the world.