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

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!!!