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.


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