This is a round up of the latest news related Personal Rapid Tramsport and Advanced Transport. If you would like to submit a news item please email

    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (7)

    September 29th, 2017


    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year
    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.
    1982 – The Seventh Year.
    Dr. Jerry Kieffer, as ATRA Board Chairman, wrote to the Board of Directors as follows:year 7




    ATRA Co-Sponsored with the TRB New Systems Committee a Session at the January TRB conference. ATRA Board Member Catherine Burke chaired the session. She asked the speakers to address the following questions: (1) What are the advantages and who will benefit in the technology you present, (2) What are the technological, financial, or other barriers to implementation, and (3) Why do you believe this technology can succeed in being implemented?
    James Lawson of Garrett discussed flywheel energy storage in electric buses. Clarence Adriance of Boeing discussed magnetically levitated system. Carl Walters of Lawrence Livermore discussed use of inductive power. George Paster, having left UMTA and joined UTDC, discussed the UTDC intermediate capacity transit systems planned for Vancouver and Toronto. The novelty in this steel-wheel, steel-rail system was that it used linear induction motors for propulsion. John Fruin of the Port Authority of New York discussed accelerating walkways. Bob Dietz of Gannett Fleming addressed problems of cost control in advanced systems. Mike Powells of BAA discussed how new technogies can be attracted to operating properties.
    Under the new Reagan Administration, there was no work at UMTA on AGT, hence the Advanced Transit News reported on work on advanced transit-related concepts elsewhere.
    Construction of the first line of VAL, the metro system in Lille, France was near completion. For aesthetic reasons, most of the line was underground. When completed, the system was to be able to transport 15,000 passengers per hour in two-car trains. The trains were automatically controlled and ran on 2 rubber tires. Lille was the first city in the world to be equipped exclusively with new-technology equipment.


    7 year 6


    AiResearch, a division of Garrett, was selected to manufacture a system of flywheel storage funded by UMTA.
    A variety of advanced battery systems were subject to strong R&D, but delivery of functioning hardware was at that time nil. General Motors was testing a nickel-zinc battery and a zinc-bromine battery. The hope was to develop a battery with sufficient energy density to be used in buses.
    Booz-Allen published a study on the use of hydraulic accumulator technology to regenerate braking energy in transit coaches.
    Based on funding from UMTA, Transport Canada, and SNV of West Germany, a Dictionary of Public Transportation was published by N. D. Lea and SNV.
    The Center for International Programs at Michigan State University sponsored a conference in London to offer American transportation managers an opportunity to study British modes of transport for people and goods.
    The City of Helsinki, Finland, was nearing completion of the first section of its rapid rail transit system. The decision to build was made in 1969 and construction started in 1970. The construction and design of the system was done entirely by Finish firms. Each car has a capacity of 200 people. Train operation was automatic with an attendant present to operate if necessary. Part of the system was elevated and part underground. The total length is 11.2 km.


    Helsinki Rapid Rail

    Helsinki Rapid Rail


    A 35-km rail line was being planned for Caracas. It would be steel wheel, steel rail, standard gauge, with 1500v DC third rail. They planned nine-car trains ultimately operating at 100 km/h and 4-minute headway. The trains could operate either manually or fully automatic.

    The European Conference of Ministers of Transport published the results of a series of studies entitled “The Future of the Use of the Car.” Factors affecting car use were discussed and the relationship between private car use and public transportation were reviewed.
    The text “Free Enterprise Urban Transportation” by Gabriel Roth and George Waynne discussed privately-operated, non-subsidized, and profitable public transportation modes operating around the world and analyzed their appliability to the U. S.
    The NCTRP released two reports of its activities since its creation in November 1980: “Cleaning Equipment and Procedures for Cleaning Buses” and “Priority Treatment for Buses on Urban Streets.”

    year7 3
    On January 13, 1982, an accident occurred on the metrorail rapid transit system of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. A six-car train derailed and collided with the center dividing wall between the main tracks while making an abnormal move at a crossover between stations. Three people were killed and 50 injured. An investigation showed that the cause was improper implementation of manual operating procedures.
    In June 1982, the University of Minnesota Patent Office gave me a grant of $100,000 that allowed me, with two graduate students, to spend a year full time developing my new PRT system. By this time five patents had been applied for, two on the switch system, two on the guideway, and one on a novel control concept. Indiana Representative Dick Doyle provided $5000 to build the model shown here. The person on the left in the picture is Doyle and to the right me inspecting the model.

    year 7 4

    Spartan Superway Speeds Ahead

    September 9th, 2017


    an ATRA Pulse Article by BJ Furman 2017-09-08

    Article below:

    ATRA Pulse Article – Superway Speeds Ahead Fall 2017

    The Driverless Taxi, Driverless Transit Nexus

    September 9th, 2017

    Peter J. Muller, P.E.

    Mercedes just announced they will start building driverless taxis in the 2020 – 2025 timeframe. These vehicles will cost far less than conventional taxis to operate and will likely provide an affordable means of transportation for many people who could then forego car ownership and save substantial money. Each driverless taxi will operate almost 24/7 and not that many will be needed before they dominate vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Some predict that they will be responsible for 90% of VMT by 2030.
    This potentially rapid switch to driverless taxis could have profound positive and negative impacts. Mobility and safety will improve for many. However, taxi drivers, auto dealers, rental car companies, parking facilities, etc. will go out of business and/or have to reinvent themselves. In addition, contrary to common hype, driverless cars will add to congestion for many years before they reduce it (if they ever do).

    Impact of Driverless Cars on Congestion Data source: ITS International

    Impact of Driverless Cars on Congestion
    Data source: ITS International

    Some of the reasons for this are:
    • Driverless taxis will add to VMT by driving empty to pick up the next fare
    • Urban sprawl may increase with less expensive transportation
    • HOV lanes that change direction for morning and evening peaks will no longer work
    o This is because empty taxis returning for the next fare will balance flows in each direction
    • Platooning, narrower lanes, etc. require most vehicles to be driverless and require infrastructure changes
    Thus, the improved mobility will be hampered by increased congestion.
    This is where driverless transit that has its own infrastructure fits in. Automated transit networks (ATN) are comprised of driverless small (car- sized) vehicles traveling on dedicated (usually elevated) guideways. Such systems have been in public service for decades and have higher capacity and average speed than light rail, while costing far less to build and operate. New generations of these systems are being developed that will provide quicker service than cars and have guideway capacity similar to seven freeway lanes.

    ATN Station

    ATN Station

    ATN systems can be deployed along and/or adjacent to freeway corridors. A typical arrangement could consist of many interconnected one-way loops forming a ladder-like layout. The legs of the ladder could be about a mile or two apart and could straddle the freeway alignment. The rungs
    would alternate in direction and provide access from one leg to the other. Offline stations could be located about half a mile apart on both legs and rungs. Thus, an area about two miles wide centered on the freeway would have a high-quality transit system within walking distance for most people. Many studies have shown that an ATN system will attract drivers from their cars and the freeway congestion would immediately start to diminish.

    Schematic ATN Layout

    Schematic ATN Layout

    But what about the people further away from the freeway? This is where driverless taxis could play a key role. These areas are likely to be less congested and the taxis and autonomous shuttles could very effectively bring people to the ATN stations thereby greatly increasing the transit service area and the ridership. Furthermore, an ATN system creates jobs for the initial construction as well as for operations and maintenance.

    Transit mode share with and without ATN Source: Studies in named cities

    Transit mode share with and without ATN
    Source: Studies in named cities

    The combination of driverless taxis and transit could be the best way to deal with the coming driverless revolution.
    Peter Muller is President of both PRT Consulting Inc. and the Advanced Transit Association. He can be reached at

    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (6)

    September 8th, 2017


    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year
    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.

    1981 – The Sixth Year.

    This spring ATRA elected a new slate of officers. Dr. A. M. (Tony) Yen, president of Technology Research and Analysis Corp. of Arlington, VA, was elected President of ATRA. Dr. Catherine Burke, Associate Professor of Public Administration at the University of Southern California was elected Vice President; and Dr. Duncan MacKinnon, Chief of the UMTA Advanced Development Program, was elected Treasurer. At its July 11 meeting, the Board of Directors elected Dr. Jerry Kieffer Chairman.

    Dr Tony Yen

    Dr Tony Yen

    Barriers to Technology Development were discussed at an ATRA session at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) annual meeting on January 14, 1981. Al Sobey of General Motors and formerly of TTI/Otis said that federal R&D by itself inhibits private development. When the federal government preempts private industry by doing the same work and making it available to everybody else, it discourages private initiatives. Moreover, experience has shown that UMTA is reluctant to accept new ideas from the outside; and has mandated designs that freeze technical concepts, inhibit the feedback from field experience, diffuse responsibility for designs, and discourage innovation. Dick Hacker of Boeing stated that the two primary barriers to technology deployment are 1) the lack of common understanding of the need or scope of transit technology that users, operators, industry or the nation will support, and 2) the lack of a long-term national commitment to urban transit technology that transcends short term political and funding cycles.

    UMTA’s Automatic Vehicle Monitoring (AVM) Program was aimed at improving schedule unreliability in large transit systems and on heavily traveled routes where buses often bunch together, creating long headways after the consecutive arrival of several buses at each stop. In an AVM system, elecronic and computer technology was used to automatically monitor the location and progress of the vehicles in a fleet.

    While the newly elected Reagan administration announced that federal funding for DPM projects would be eliminated, funding for the Miami and Detroit DPM projects were sufficient for those projects to proceed. Money in the UMTA budget for innivative techniques and technology introduction was completely eliminated. Funding for AGRT was reduced to $8.6 million. UMTA intended to discoutinue the AGRT development program, but it managed to continue until 1986, and produced valuable information about control that was useful for PRT.


    UMTA’s Paratransit Vehicle Program continued. Its goal was to stimulate the auto-motive industry to manufacture vehicles that would meet the needs of paratransit service at an affordable cost. As shown here, these vehicles would be equipped with a wheelchair access ramp that is deployed by the driver. It was felt that a shift in policy at the Federal level could help spur the widespread introduction of innovative transit technologies for the elderly and handicapped. The new policy could lead many transit cities to opt for providing door-to-door specialized services such as shown here in an UMTA-funded program.

    The ATRA Board held a discussion of the following topics related to the current decline of federal funding for public transit:  1) Can new technologies still play a role?  2) Financial incentitives via deregulation.  3) Free marketplace economics for public transit, and  4) Can low- income citizens still be served by public transportation?

    In his opening message, ATRA President Tony Yen said: “We can fill an important gap left by the decline of federal guidance for transit R&D. Doing this has the advantage that it will help ATRA identify new institutional frameworks through which support for R&D in technology can be obtained.”

    The Regional Plan Association studied household auto use in New York State to help policy makers anticipate auto use under different curcumstances. A principal finding was that neighborhood population density has a greater effect on the number of miles a household drives than a variety of other variables such as the number, age, or fuel economy of cars owned.

    Thanks to a grant of $300,000 from the US DOT, the City of Las Vegas initiated a study of the feasibility of a high-speed (300 mph) passenger train connection to Los Angeles. This was the first study of this type to receive a federal grant.

    ATRA planned a session on New Transit Technologies and Issues to be held at the January 1982 TRB Meeting in Washington, D. C. The technologies to be considered were: 1) Composite Flywheel Energy Storage and Propulson for Bus Applications, 2) Magnetically Levitated Urban Transit, 3) New Transit Systems in Canada, 4) An Acelerating Walkway Application, 5) Future Trends in Technology Deployment, and 6) Methods for Cost Control in Implimentation of Advanced Systems.
    In May 1981 a two-year study of automated transit systems for the downtwon area of the City of Indianapolis was completed. The study found that an automated transit system could be feasible in Indianapolis subject to preliminary engineering studies. Consultants to the city included Barton-Aschman Associates, Inc. as prime contractor with Anderson/MacDonald, Inc. as one of the subcontractors. A range of elevated AGT systems with vehicles accommodating 60, 40, 20, 12, and 3-passengers were considered.


    The 3-passenger vehicle network for Indianapolis

    The 3-passenger vehicle network for Indianapolis

    The result of the Indianapolis study was that the smaller the vehicle the lower was the total cost per passenger-mile, due both to improved service and decreased guideway cost. For reasons of personal security, the League of Woman Voters in particular rejected the larger vehicles in favor of the 3-passenger vehicle in which one would ride only with chosen passengers or alone. They imagined rides in off-peak periods shared with unknown persons and said “No thanks”. At the time, the only 3-passenger vehicle available was the German Cabintaxi. Since that program was terminated in December 1980, attemps were made to find an American company willing to take it over, but no such company was found.

    On November 16, 1981 Jerry Kieffer, as ATRA Chairman, wrote to the ATRA Board Members with concerns of that time. In part, he said “Transportation policy makers have an urgent need to have more options for providing effective service and for developing capital and operating resources. ATRA can play a helpful role in stimulating fresh thinking and in widening the circle of awareness about such thinking. That was what ATRA was first set up to do, and clealy we should be greatly challenged by what needs doing now. In the weeks ahead, we will be asking the ATRA Board to advise on particular themes or ideas that could be adopted for association development and consideration, along with possible formats for presentation of such themes, or specific ideas within themes.”

    For several years since 1976 I had been the U. S. Representative for Cabintaxi. Because of termination of that program, my colleague Ray MacDonald and I began thinking of a new design. Since I was to teach Senior Mechanical Engineering Design during the three quarters of the academic year 1981-82, I assigned to groups of about 15 senior mechanical engineering students each quarter successive aspects of the design of a new PRT system. This enabled me to spend at least half my time working on an improved PRT system. As indicated in the chapter on structures in my book Transit Systems Theory, I had found that the minimum-cost guideway was narrower than the vehicle. The Aerospace Corporation1 had reached the same conclusion and had placed a vertical chassis inside a U-shaped guideway. Cabintaxi had also reached the same conclusion about need for a narrow chassis, but placed chassis components outside a narrow vertically oriented box-beam guideway, which made the merge and diverge sections of the guideway complex and expensive. Thus, for my design classes, I specified a guideway design similar to that propose by The Aerospace Corporation, but to minimize cost my guideway would be a truss structure. The first version of my guideway is illustrated here.

    For reliable, all-weather, maximum throughput in vehicles per hour, both Aerospace and DEMAG+MBB (developers of Cabintaxi) used linear electric motors with system designs initiated in the early 1970s. A serious problem then was solved in the late 1970s by the variable frequency drive, which if used properly markedly increased the efficiency of a linear induction motor. Hence, with the advice and assistance of two Electrical Engineering Professors, I specified the LIM and VFD.

    My first vehicle design

    My first vehicle design


    [1] Available on

    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (5)

    August 8th, 2017


    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year

    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.

    1980 – The Fifth Year.

    At the beginning of the fifth year, the ATRA Board voted new leadership. Dr. Larry Goldmuntz was elected Chairman, Bob Maxwell of the US DOT President, the one-man German UMTA Hermann Zemlin Vice President, Tony Yen Secretary, and Dr. Jarold Kieffer Treasurer.

    Dr. Goldmuntz w/ his wife and my wife.

    Dr. Goldmuntz w/ his wife and my wife.

    1980 was very much a year of soul searching for ATRA. Should we exist, what should be our objectives, etc.? We determined to continue to exist and we urged AGT development through the Advanced Group Rapid Transit program, notwithstnding that we knew its defects.

    In an Editorial, Bob Maxwell noted that “The lessons learned are that innovation and new technology applications are difficult to achieve and far more costly and time consuming that anyone would have imagined.” Maxwell mentioned that Dr. Kieffer had written a paper entitled “Guidelines for Public Transit . . .”, in which he said “What is needed are public transit technologies that offer real promise of breaking out of the severe service and cost limitations that make and keep conventional technologies so disadvantageous to so much of the public and to the planners.” Maxwell surged that ATRA’a goals were no better outlined than in Dr. Kieffer’s paper.

    Dr Kieffer

    Dr Kieffer

    At the January 25, 1980 Board Meeting, discussion centred on two points: 1) to better define ATRA’s role in advanced transit areas and to find a clear identity, and 2) to examine ATRA based on current interest and strength. The greatest number of potential ATRA members were in the technologies, and ATRA should focus on them for the membership drive.

    The world’s first accelerating walkway, in Paris, was anounced in Advanced Transit News, but we have not heard much about them since then.

    A planned DPM for Atlantic City was announced, but it did not proceed.

    A workshop was held at the Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Mass., with the objective to develop computer models for performing system operational analyses and to develop guideline standards and requirements for design and use of AGT Systems.

    The U. S. House of Representatives voted to continue funding for Advanced Group Rapid Transit (AGRT) development despite Administration attempts to defer the UMTA program. In their justification, they said:

    “Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) could with further development offer better service at less cost than current rail and trolley systems. Users and non-users alike are critical of the lack of amenities, infrequent service, unreliability, crowning, and inconvenience characteristic of transit services currently available in most cities. The AGRT program could help address these problems by making transit more attractive through improved trip time, convenience, comfort, flexibility, and frequency of service.”

    In ATRA’s Statement on the possibility of AGRT cancellation, they said:

    “ATRA deplores the fact that the United States has not been able, for a variety of reasons, to develop a healthy transit industry. This country needs a transit industry that can manufacture reliable, low-cost products. This country needs the most cost-effective approaches that tecnnology can provide to improve transit patronage and productivity.”

    Yoshio Tsukio, an ATRA member and Associate Professor at Nayoya University, gave a status report on Automated Guideway Transit in Japan. He listed nine AGT systems under development in Japan and said that seven of them had been deployed. He said that the Ministry of Construction plans to subsidize and strongly suport the deployment of about 200 km of GRT guideway by 1985, and 1000 km by the year 2000.

    CVS: The Japanese PRT System

    CVS: The Japanese PRT System

    ATRA Member Robert E. Johnson wrote an article in Advanced Transit News about the UMTA Automated Mixed Traffic Vehicle program that had been quietly progressing for several years. An AMTV uses inductive guidance and optical censors to operate safely at low speeds on existing rights-of-way shared in places with pedestrians. UMTA had a technology-development program at JPL to develop a breadboard vehicle. They were working on improvement of sensor and controller performance and a vehicle with features that will allow reliable and safe operation in an actual transit environment.

    The Office of Technology Assessment conducted a study on the AGRT program. They concluded: “Unless cities adopt forms of transportation that require less energy and space, they face a future of greatly increased traffic congestion and reduced mobility. A technology that could help meet cities future transit needs is AGT, driverless transit vehicles operating on their own fixed guideways. The technologies under development in the AGRT program could be applied to other forms of exclusive guideway transit ranging from large-vehicle urban rail systems to small-vehicle personal rapid transit systems.”

    In March 1980, UMTA invited several ATRA members to a two-day conference at the UMTA office in Washington, D. C. The purpose was to identify factors that may slow or stop PRT development. By the end of the conference it was seen from presentations given by UMTA and TSC engineers that PRT development should be encouraged beyond the AGRT program.

    In an editorial in the Advanced Transit News, Alain Kornhauser said there is “a realization that the automobile has reached an historical peak, and its perceived costs are rapidly becoming greater than its actual costs. The catastrophic rehabilitation needs of our urban and interurban highway system, manifested by inflation, a fixed revenue rate and a declining base (gasoline consumption), may well bring the automobile to it axles.”

    In cooperation with the Committee on New Systems and Technology of the Transportation Research Board, ATRA was to present a session on January 14, 1981 on “The Role of Technolgy in Urban Transportation Barriers to Technology Deployment.”

    Proposed system map

    A preliminary Environmental Impact Statement was completed on a proposed DPM for Downtown Detroit. A map of the route is shown here. The DPM would operate on a one-way loop guideway 2.96 miles long.   Travel speeds on the loop would range from 17 to 30 mph and the entire loop could be travelled in 14 minutes. Station locations are shown as black rectangles on the illustration shown here. Passenger volumes were predicted to be 71,000 per weekday in 1990 with 11,500 passengers in the noon peak hour.

    Vought Corporation released a report entitled “Passive Vehicle Automated Guideway Transit Documentation of Previous Work and Assessment of Impacts of New Technology on this Concept,” which was a small-vehicle AGT called LectraVia. It used passive vehicles operating on an active guideway and was propelled by linear induction motors mounted in the guideway. They concluded that passive vehicles would provide the system reliability neeeded to deploy AGT systems with many small vehicles (12-passenger or less) in applications where continuous high service levels would be wanted such as in business, governmental, medical and educational service areas.

    In the September 27, 1980 ATRA Board Meeting the following questions and ATRA’s role in relationship to them were discussed:

    What is needed, what is the acceptablility and viability of AGT systems?

    What are the views toward advanced systems by users, planners, builders and operators?

    Should we consider other forms of advanced transit besides AGT, such as advanced buses and new paratransit systems?

    The discussion concluded without definitive answers to resolve the questions.

    Henry Najeko, UMTA Associate Administrator for R&D and ATRA Member, explained the UMTA R&D Program. He said that the DOT had undertaken a major review of its R&D efforts. He said that DOT had been underfunding R&D by a factor of 2 or 3 or 4, and that there was more support for looking farther ahead instead of planning just to meet the immediate needs of financially strapped transit properties. He wondered how much R&D would occur in the private sector if the Federal government were to withdraw, and doubted if they would pick up the slack, but suggested that ATRA might want to explore this question. He favored UMTA doing testing of new or improved transit technology to qualify them for capital grant funding.

    In the summer of 1980, we were informed that the 12-passenger Cabintaxi project was approved for construction in Hamburg. In December 1980 we learned that a newly appointed Minister of R&D canceled that project. That was the last we heard of Cabintaxi in Germany.


    PRT needs to distinguish by performance from self-driving cars – or submerge in them

    July 28th, 2017



    Will PRT be able to distinguish itself from self-driving cars? Self-driving cars are believed to be able to run on any paved road, on exclusive lanes or on lanes with mixed traffic, with or without a driver, shared or private. This flexibility could open a mass market because there is a smooth transition from the conventional, privately owned car to the automated and shared car of the future.

    I believe it is unlikely that shared, fully automated taxis will perform a significant share of urban trips in any foreseeable future. But already the hype, hope and imaginations generated by self-driving cars risk to overshadow, dilute and absorb the concepts and potentials of PRT. Surely, PRT systems, which are already in operation since years, will also profit from the self-driving car propaganda and face better informed clients, less technological skepticism and less regulatory obstacles as compared with the past years.


    But what is the main distinguishing feature of PRT? “It is the dedicated guideway” – in the expert’s opinion. However, would this argument be convincing to many clients or potential users, would it make headlines, would it attract investments and open large markets? Probably not. One may even comment that guideways are additional costs and self-driving cars could make use of exclusive guideways too, if necessary.


    In my opinion, only if PRT achieved an outstanding performance by making an appropriate use of dedicated guideways then its breakthrough would still be possible: Compared with self-driving cars, PRT would be safer, achieve much high capacities, run faster, be more reliable and energy efficient, vehicles would be lighter and cheaper, and infrastructure would also be lighter and slimmer. Such a PRT system would let self-driving cars look like outdated, heavy and slow technology.


    But what is the appropriate use of dedicated guideways? The most important properties of dedicated guideways are that they guarantee a predefined operating environment, the motion of all vehicles is predictable and there exists a small air-gap between vehicle and guideway. These properties can and should be technically exploited; here are some examples:

    • Gripping or squeezing of guide-rails with wheels or brakes: this guarantees decelerations and accelerations, maintains predefined headways and therefore provides high safety levels and reliable operation in most weather conditions.
    • Stabilizing guide-rails: if guide-rails are used to force the vehicle to say on track then speeds can be reliably increased, in particular in curves.
    • Short distance communication devices and sensors: wireless communications and sensing over a few milliliters (between vehicle and guideway) are fast, delay-free and interference-fee; this allows a rapid and precise location of vehicles; further, vehicles can “see” each other through the guideway. This feature contributes to a safely decrease in headways and an increase in capacity.
    • Automated, mechanical coupling: this is a proven and reliable way to couple vehicles together and to form dynamic trains of arbitrary length; such trains would further boost PRT capacity; vehicles with identical destinations or directions could be joined in special stations, as shown in the figure.
    • Synchronous PRT motorways: on high capacity network links, all vehicles would run at high speeds with synchronous motors (with either rotatory motors and a common 3-phase power supply or with linear synchronous motors). Because all vehicles are tied to a common phase, there cannot be a relative movement between vehicles on this link. This means that safety is guaranteed, even at very short distances. Note that with this concept, vehicles need to pre-accelerate to enter the main stream in an asynchronous way, similar to the maneuvers on motorway ramps.
    • Power transmission: the small and precise distance between vehicle and guideway allows efficient power transmission, either through current collectors or inductively; there is no need for large, heavy and costly batteries.
    • Vehicle prediction: in absence of interferences from other traffic participants, the position and future position of all vehicle are predictable with a high precision. This fact allows ultimately to optimize the on-demand services (minimize waiting times) and to reduce or entirely avoid traffic congestion.

    Figure: Station where PRT vehicles with a common destination are coupled together to form trains


    This list is not exhaustive. Some features are already realized in existing PRT systems, some are new and need a reality check. However, all of these features cannot be easily implemented with free ranging vehicles, such as self-driving cars. It is my conviction that by consequently developing and optimizing most, if not all, of these guideway-related technologies, one would end up with a PRT system that outperforms self-driving cars, as well as medium capacity light rail trains.


    None of the features in the above list is science fiction; I claim that it is more difficult to develop cars able to run through traffic-congested cities without a driver than to implement the features in this list.


    The suggested developments do need considerable funding. This is why it is important to deliver accurate impact estimations and demonstrate how such a PRT-network would perform against a fleet of self-driving cars in the same urban settings and with the same transport demand. For this purpose, we are working on large scale micro-simulations and build scenarios where door-to-door trips are simulated with different transport scenarios, including walking, conventional public transit, cars, bikes, and PRT.


    By: Joerg Schweizer



    International Podcar City Conference comes to Las Vegas, USA

    July 27th, 2017


    International Podcar City Conference comes to Las Vegas, USA

    November 8-10 2017 in Las Vegas, USA 

    Eleventh annual event focuses on automated mobility for

    Smart City, Smart Transit, Smart Energy

    Press release – for immediate release

    San Jose, CA and Las Vegas, NV – July 27th 2017


    The Eleventh Annual International Podcar City Conference is set for Wednesday – Friday,

    November 8-10, at the City Hall of Las Vegas, NV. Podcar City will address the importance of

    automated mobility and on-demand operations pertaining to energy, cityscape, and livability.

    150-250 participants are expected, including city planners, transit planners, consultants,

    architects, engineers, investors, developers, elected officials, and academics. Podcar City is

    organized by the International Institute of Sustainable Transportation (INIST) of California and

    the Advanced Transit Association with support from the Mineta Transportation Institute, San

    Jose, CA,

    In parallel and culminating at Podcar City, the Urban International Design Contest (UIDC) has

    been organized to inspire municipalities and universities to think broadly about their transportation

    network. The UIDC takes place from July 1 until October 16 and connects students and city

    professionals with the goal to educate, inspire and motivate important stakeholders in how new

    modes of sustainable public transportation can be utilized in an urban environment. Independent

    judges will score each team on their presentation which must include Automated Transit Network

    technology (ATN) defined as self-driving vehicles at grade and/or a separate guideway which

    provides transportation for the general public, a real future city/urban project in need of transportation,

    and a 4D simulation model. Currently the cities of Sundbyberg, Jacksonville, Las

    Vegas, Gävle, Washington D.C and Perth are participating.

    Information about the conference and the design competition is available at and

    “Podcars are similar to the driverless trains we see at airports and other facilities around the

    world,” said Christer Lindstrom of INIST. “But these are built as smaller cars for about six to

    eight passengers. Initial systems are expected to fill the need for short trips or for connections

    between transit modes. We expect the technology to eventually evolve into larger systems such as

    the recently decided 1500 vehicle/100 kilometer system in Ajman, UAE. Elevated tracks will

    allow them to operate without impacting street traffic and autonomous public vehicles using

    existing roads are already deployed at various locations all over the world. Since the last

    conference there has been a tremendous increase in interest and investment in these


    The conference will open on Wednesday with a series of workshops and display of various

    vehicles and concepts.

    International speakers representing government, business, and professional organizations will

    come from across the U.S., France, Australia, Sweden, Italy, the UK, Mexico, China and the


    Sessions include:

    – Industry practice from around the world on autonomous transit systems

    – Mobility planning from several cities utilizing live virtual 4D models

    – Mobility as a Service (MaaS) & Automated Transit Networks (ATN)

    – Global trends and project developments

    – Smart city discussions including digital payment, and multimodal connectivity

    – New mobility and its relationship to sustainability, energy and climate

    – Safety and Security

    – Integration of sensoring and the Internet of Things (IoT)

    Matthew Lesh, formerly of the U.S Department of Transportation, is pleased to assist with the

    organization of Podcar City. “The initiative fits perfectly within our knowledge and experience

    on mobility services. Over the past several years we have seen a real convergence of Intelligent

    Transportation Systems (ITS), mobile technology, and automation. Ensuring that we use these

    technologies in a sustainable and meaningful way will have positive impacts not only on our

    transportation networks, but on society, providing more access, greater accessibility, and added


    The Mineta Transportation Institute in San Jose, California has been a long-term supporter of

    new, sustainable technologies that help address first and last mile challenges. “ATN’s are

    designed to reduce congestion, improve mobility, and mitigate negative environmental impacts.

    Such technology is a viable alternative in California as we prepare for the advent of high-speed

    rail” says Karen Philbrick, PhD, Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute.

    Public Works Director David Bowers, City of Las Vegas;

    “The city is proud to host this conference as we continue to be on the cutting edge of developing

    safe practices that enable automated vehicle implementation, It is exciting to see these

    developments and technology finding a home in downtown Las Vegas in the heart of our

    Innovation District.”

    For information and to register, go to


    The International Institute of Sustainable Transportation (INIST) staff and partners have

    comprehensive skills and experience in the core disciplines needed to build mobility projects that

    dramatically improve quality of life – project management, general design, energy analysis,

    innovative transportation solutions, public outreach, and more. INIST does not compete with

    traditional consultancy studies. Rather, it provides conceptual designs in collaboration with

    students, professionals, and advisors. INIST establishes partnerships with top key professional

    organizations for best performance on all levels of a project – architects, developers, transit

    specialists, solar consultants, and virtual model providers.


    ATRA is a diverse group of people brought together by the common realization that the

    transportation systems of the past can not meet the transportation needs of the future, or even the

    present. As non-profit corporation, ATRA’s purpose is to encourage the development and

    deployment of advanced transportation systems that will benefit society.


    At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is

    to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of

    our nation’s’ transportation system through research, education, workforce development and

    technology transfer. We help create a connected world. MTI was founded in 1991 and is funded

    through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California

    Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas

    College and Graduate School of Business.

    Media Contact:

    Christer Lindstrom                                            Diana Paul

    Director, INIST.                                                   City of Las Vegas

    +46-735-459179.                                                 +1-702-229-6582



    The History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (4)

    July 14th, 2017


    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year

    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.


    1979 – The Fourth Year


    Please see this link below for full article:

    The History of the Advanced Transit Association yr4

    Texas Southern University – Advanced Research

    July 11th, 2017


    Texas Southern University Studying Advancing Research of Automated Roadway Vehicles in Public Transit Applications

    TSU’s Center for Transportation Training and Research (CTTR) is working to further research after completing a TRB/NCHRP study of autonomous vehicle transit systems


    TSU’s CTTR has completed the work as Principal Investigator for the NCHRP 20-102(02) project sponsored by Transportation Research Board/National Academy of Sciences, which specifically addressed the implications of deploying fully automated roadway vehicle (AV) technology in transit operations. This study’s results will be featured in a TRB webinar later in 2017. The final report, titled Impacts of Laws and Regulations on Automation Technology for Transit, describes how AV transit will be commonly deployed in public transit service within the next few decades, and the resulting impacts on Operations and Policy at the local transit operator level will create a new paradigm for public transit. The NCHRP study assessed the development trajectories for AV transit technologies, considered the lessons learned through the last 50 years of automated guideway transit deployments, investigated the early demonstration projects for AV transit and tapped into the thinking of a number individuals within the transit industry, labor unions, and governmental agencies. Results of the study are an extensive set of findings and recommendations that address the existing laws and regulations, the nature of policy decisions that are made at the local transit agency level and the further development possibilities for the current prototype AV transit technologies now being demonstrated.

    A second project now under development by TSU’s CTTR will provide a “living laboratory” of AV transit operations with fully automated vehicles traveling on the ground through pedestrian and vehicular environments within and around the University District in Houston, Texas. The University District AV Transit Circulator System implementation is being developed as a joint endeavor between TSU and the University of Houston – a Tier One research institution. Encompassing an area totaling over 2 square miles, the long term deployment phases will be analyzed in a planning study that is being considered for addition to the region’s Unified Planning Work Program. An Early Deployment Project is also being developed which will interconnect the campuses of TSU and U of H with AV Circulator transit services, and will provide an operational platform for important research studies such as those that come out of the NCHRP 20-102(02) project recommendations mentioned above.

    By J. Sam Lott

    J Sam Lott

    Synopsis of the 1st Smart Self-Driving Summit

    July 11th, 2017


    Prepared by Lawrence J. Fabian, Trans.21

    Please see link below: