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Service Levels for PRT and Other Transit Options

Service levels of a transit system can be observed through both cooperative and competitive filters, i.e. synergy or increased ridership of the network of transit systems, or the actual advantages of PRT compared with other options.

The SYNERGY aspect of PRT is outstanding. While governments have invested in traditional transit systems for decades, the actual use of those systems has remained relatively flat. When included with existing public transit options, PRT promises far higher ridership of all public transit.

Another way to view PRT is by comparing non-monetary costs and benefits of various transportation options. Many individuals and organizations have provided such comparisons. Click here for some examples. One factor - safety - deserves special notice. Glydways says it best about PRT: "Ready when you are, your personal and secure ride ensures you a safe and dependable ride every time."

PRT Induces Synergy in Transit Ridership

When considering benefits, not only is ridership on the PRT system high, but ridership on other connected transit networks also increases substantially.

PRT provides convenient connections between existing transportation options. That feature produces the benefit of dramatically higher use of those options. Too much single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) driving causes congestion. Yet, the many attempts made to reduce it have been largely ineffective. This abstract from a 188-page peer-reviewed study, however, indicates that the SOV rate at a high-tech job center could be cut in half:

 

ABSTRACT: A five-mile, $50M Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) "shuttle" system is proposed for Palo Alto's Stanford Research Park (SRP), complementing and significantly increasing the attractiveness of commuter rail, carpool, vanpool, bicycle, and bus commutes for the center's 20,000 employees. ...

A complex travel demand analysis was conducted on a sample of suburban employees, of which 89% drive alone. When presented with a hypothetical Year 2008 commute alternative scenario, where PRT solved the "last mile" problem and new mobility services solved specific objections, drive alone commutes dropped to only 45%. Extrapolating to the entire office park, 6,600 cars per day are removed, freeing 50 acres of parking for reclamation, conservatively worth $150M. It appears possible to eliminate traffic congestion and air pollution without lifestyle sacrifice ... The model for Palo Alto plausibly translates to other job-rich major employment centers.

 

The reason that the SOV rate could be cut in half is shown below by the oval which represents a PRT system that quickly and conveniently connects all the other forms of transportation together. No matter how a commuter gets to the PRT system, it will quickly deliver them along the next leg of their trip. To a large degree, this 2003 study of SRP anticipated Transportation as a Service (TaaS). Implementation today could be easier and more effective than many years ago. For example, now Uber/Lyft fill the role of "Smart jitney".

 

PRT Creates Synergy with Other Transportation Options

Dramatically cutting SOV driving while increasing transit ridership have been predicted in many studies.

In the 2005 Paper presented at the 19th International EMME/2 Users' Conference in Seattle (19-21 October 2005), Transek Consultants predicted an increase in ridership. Specifically, 3 times more Transit Trips with PRT compared to bus mode:

"Of today's 42 000 daily visitors, the bus mode carries some 2 350 or 5,5%. In 2015 – with the Kungens Kurva area fully developed – almost 1 out of 5 visitors is expected to go by public transport, of which 17.3 % or 11 000 by the PRT mode. This modal split is almost four times higher than today. PRT will provide an environmental-friendly and attractive complement to the private car and it also draws more passengers to metro and bus."

In addition to the chart above that estimates bus service capturing 10% of trips in 2015, Transek also created the chart below that shows bus usage doubling to 20% when PRT is included in the mix of transit options.

Bus Ridership Can Double: 10% => 21%

Transit Mode Share Percentage: with and without PRT

Source: Studies in the named cities

PRT/ATN dramatically affects transit ridership as shown in this table from page 11 of A Light Rail, Group Rapid Transit, Personal Rapid Transit Comparison.

Comparing service levels of PRT with other options.

A brief comparison chart is offered below for various transit options. The author presents the logic behind his ratings in the paper "SOME 21ST CENTURY TRANSPORTATION SOLUTIONS - A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS". While PRT rates remarkably well, anyone can create their own chart (as shown with other examples below).

Transit Options Compared: personal rapid transit (PRT), bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail transit (LRT), electric bicycle rapid transit (BikeRT), transportation network companies (TNC) like Uber & Lyft, and small driverless shuttles (A-shuttles)

Of the many requirements users want from public transit, one is the overall time required to make a trip. In the King's Curve analysis, Transek predicted a reduction in trip time.

  • The proposed PRT network for the King's Curve Area in Sweden promises door-to-door trips faster with PRT.
  • The total travel time between Skärholmen and Kungens Kurva will be reduced from 14 to 8 minutes incl. walk time with PRT, i.e. a 41 % reduction.
  • The total travel time from Stockholm city to Kungens Kurva can be reduced by 26 % from 65 to 46 minutes (incl. walk and wait time).
  • In off-peak, the travel time gain will be 20 minutes between Stockholm City and Kungens Kurva with PRT.

Various factors contribute to the service level of any particular transportation option. The comparison table below from PRT Consulting provides an overview and comparison of 18 factors. While this table and others below are somewhat subjective, supporting data exists to justify the general consensus that PRT offers significant advantages over other transportation options - both public and private.






This comparison table comes from the Greenville County, NC, Economic Development Corporation PERSONAL RAPID TRANSIT EVALUATION Study.



This chart comes from Part 2 of Mobility for Humans: Here to There in Four Parts by Loren Pahlke. The upper half rates the primary interests of transportation USERS, while the bottom half rates the primary interests of transportation PLANNERS. A brief overview of the article includes the following statement.
"In the Transportation Master Plan (TMP), the measurable objectives established by our planners have to do with the environment, congestion, social justice and safety. However, according to an article by the National League of Cities Center for Research and Innovation, the primary interests of transportation users are comfort, reliability, speed, convenience, out-of-pocket costs and safety. Aside from safety, there is very little overlap between the criteria that city planners feel are important enough to measure and the criteria that matter to transportation users."




From: rputman@aol.com
To: prt-info@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2003 12:59 PM
Subject: [prt-info] Re: Curtis Johnson article

I've been following PRT for more than 3 decades. Thirty years ago, the electronic hardware for PRT was not very cost effective. Now it is. To put things in perspective, I've created a comparison grid which compares PRT, car, bus, and light rail transit (LRT). Admittedly this is a subjective analysis. However, anybody could take the criteria and input their own numbers to come up with THEIR conclusion.

Evaluating Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)
versus Car, Bus, and Light Rail Transit (LRT)


So as to be able to quantitatively compare various systems, this analysis assigns a numerical value for each criterion/system combination. The point values assigned are:

4 = excellent, 3 = good, 2 = average, 1 = poor, 0 = awful.

Criterion and comments

P R T

c a r

b u s

L R T

capital cost for new road, rail or guideway

4

1

1

1

capital cost per vehicle

4

3

2

1

land acquisition required for new right of way

4

1

1

2

operating cost per vehicle: PRT vehicles are very simple, compared to a car. Hence, there is less that can go wrong. Also, one PRT vehicle is will likely be used for dozens of trips per day, thus spreading out operating costs.

4

1

2

2

trip comfort. PRT is the only option that is nonstop from origin to destination.

4

3

1

2

average trip speed during rush hour. Stops enroute hurt LRT.

4

0

1

2

impact of a labor strike PRT is automated, requires no driver.

4

4

0

1

energy efficiency under light loading: An empty PRT vehicle might weigh 800 pounds, an empty LRT vehicle is around 80,000 pounds. Now the energy efficiency to haul two passengers in each type of vehicle. Bus & car fall in between.

4

3

2

0

total trip time: On a trip to work, this would include getting to the vehicle departure point, trip time in the vehicle, and getting from the vehicle debarkation point to the work site. LRT offers the fewest get on/get off points. Car time suffers enroute.

3

3

2

1

noise pollution: Regarding cars, some people love to make their cars go varoooom, squeal their tires, and crank up the stereo with the windows open. On a bus or LRT you may have to put up with some stranger's boom box. On PRT you get to choose who you ride with.

4

3

3

3

air pollution:

4

2

0

3

Likelihood of collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians: A PRT system operates on its own elevated guide way. An LRT cannot swerve out of the way to avoid an impending collision.

4

0

0

0

security while waiting to embark: Bus and LRT riders have to wait around until the next scheduled vehicle comes.

3

4

1

1

security enroute Riders on buses and LRT have no choice as to who they ride with.

4

4

1

1

maintenance of travel surface This rating for PRT assumes a system hung from above rather than supported from below. For a supported from below system the rating would be the same as LRT.

4

1

1

3

ease of system expansion PRT can use existing rights of way.

4

2

2

1

downtown space needed to park vehicles during the day

4

0

4

4

ability to drop shoppers off inside malls, hotels and other businesses

4

0

0

1

How well does the system adapt to you - when You want to leave and where YOU want to go? Fixed schedules and routes are negatives for buses and LRT. PRT is an on-demand system so you never have to wait for a vehicle because they are sitting in line waiting for you. Once boarded, your personal PRT vehicle never stops or slows down (The SkyTran system is designed to travel 100 mph!) until you have arrived at your chosen destination.

3

4

1

0

Can the rider pay close attention to serious work while enroute to work, such as using a laptop computer? On a bus or LRT the frequent stops and starts and the actions of other riders are distractions.

4

0

2

2

What is the likelihood of a vehicle breakdown?

4

2

2

3

If a driver becomes impaired because of a heart attack or the influence of drugs or alcohol how bad are the potential consequences? PRT has no human driver.

4

0

0

1

If an emergency happens in the vehicle, the vehicle can be rerouted to the nearest facility for treating that emergency. With a car, if the emergency is affecting the driver, that presents a real problem.

4

2

1

0

Degree of disruption of roadways and businesses along alignments during system construction or expansion.

4

0

0

2

System Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without incurring significant additional costs.

4

4

0

0

Tax subsidy needed? For cars, the huge cost per mile for road construction and maintenance is paid for with taxes. With buses & LRT, tax money pays toward both capital costs and operating costs.

4

3

0

0

Practical use for the handicapped, children, and the elderly. LRT falls down here because of severely limited entry and egress choices. Cars provide those choices, but often a separate driver is needed.

4

2

2

1

Point totals for PRT, CAR, BUS, and LRT.

105

52

32

38



The source of this comparison chart is unknown.



$6.9B for 4 BART stations or $1.5B for 100 stations?

The $6900M (million) price tag of a BART tunnel under San Jose (BART Burrow) costs so much that other transportation options promised to be funded by voter-approved taxes have been short-changed. The projected 55,000 passengers/day demand in 2045 is too low to justify a 55,000 passengers/hour technology. And the construction schedule ensures that global climate disruption will overwhelm us before trains start running. In short, the risk is too high and the return on investment (ROI) is too low to justify BART technology for this link.

Instead, please consider another technology to connect the BART Berryessa station with the Caltrain stations. Consider Automated Transit Network (ATN) at $15M/mile which includes elevated guideway, off-line stations, cabs, and computer control. A one-for-one replacement by ATN for the 4-station, 12-mile round-trip BART Burrow would only cost $180M and still provide the needed capacity. A better option is to invest $1500M for a 100-station, 100-mile ATN that serves far more people with non-stop service between all stations.

In 2001, during the public comment period on a 16-mile BART extension, an ATN alternative was proposed. As shown in the diagram above and at http://sunnyhillsneighborhood.org/area.html#network, it outlined 91 miles of ATN guideway with 117 stations. That proposed network covers the Golden Triangle and downtown San Jose. Now, 15 years later, we can plan a network to match our current transit needs.

As shown below, quiet, non-stop 24/7 travel at 30+ mph between 100 networked stations would benefit our sprawling area far more than a 4-station BART corridor extension. The two options are compared using the Project Purpose list created by the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).


Project Purpose

BART

ATN

Improve public transit service

Low/Medium

High

Enhance regional connectivity

Medium

High

Increase transit ridership

Low/Medium

High

Support transportation solutions that will maintain the economic vitality and continuing development of Silicon Valley

Low

High

Improve mobility options

Medium

High

Enhance level and quality of transit service to areas of existing and planned affordable housing

Medium

High

Improve regional air quality

Low

High

Support local and regional land use plans

Medium

High

Omitted from this VTA-generated list of purposes is any reference to ROI. Also missing is any reference to the present and growing danger of our global climate crisis, and the need to act quickly and boldly to avoid costly consequences. If Zero-Based Budgeting rather than political inertia were applied to this BART extension, would it survive another budget cycle?

In 2001, BART promoters rejected the concept of bridging the gap between an eastside BART station and Caltrain using ATN. They claimed that the need for a transfer “would result in longer travel times and inconveniences to the rider that would not be consistent with the project's purpose to 'maximize transit usage and ridership' nor would it facilitate regional connectivity.” Longer travel times and inconveniences are not a problem for San Francisco transit users who enjoy frequently scheduled and networked transit. ATN provides that frequent service. And a 100-station, 24/7 network would, in fact, “maximize transit usage and ridership” and “facilitate regional connectivity” far better than a 4-station BART corridor system.

Unlike “big box” transit like BART, ATN cabs are waiting for you 90% of the time - and available within 5 minutes the other 10%. This service level is accomplished with computer control, and by adding enough cabs and stations to satisfy demand. If congestion occurs, more infrastructure can be easily added because 1) ATN hardware costs are relatively low, and 2) routing and construction relatively easy.

Such scalability and flexibility of ATN dramatically reduces the risk of using the technology. In just 5 years we could be operating a starter network that connects BART to Caltrain. If we like that system, then we could grow the network as appropriate.

Rapidly accelerating global climate disruption requires major responses quickly. Waiting a decade or more to use 50-year old technology to serve a small fraction of our population is like responding to an oncoming train by freezing in its path. Reversing global warming requires new thinking and bold action. As one of the wealthiest, most technologically-advanced areas in the world, Silicon Valley can lead the effort to create transit that works for our sprawling suburban cities, promotes transportation equity, and reduces our high per-capita carbon emissions that result from our transportation infrastructure.