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    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (12)

    March 2nd, 2018


    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.

    1987 – The Twelfth Year.

    Please click on link below for Year 12 history.

    The History of the Advanced Transit Association yr12

    A Eulogy to Dr. Jarold A. Kieffer (May 5, 1923 – March 22, 2017)

    February 5th, 2018



    I met Jerry in September 1969 in Minneapolis at the first meeting of a year-long Citizens League study that had been formed to investigate transit alternatives. The local Transit Commission staff had proposed a subway between Minneapolis and St. Paul – the most expensive of the alternatives analyzed by their consultant. About six months before, the University of Minnesota had received a grant from the Urban Mass Transportation Administration to establish a Research & Training Program on the application of new technology to urban transportation, and I was one of the grantees. This resulted because when UMTA was formed in 1964, Congress appropriated funds to study the application of new technology to urban transportation. Seventeen studies funded at $500,000 each had been completed in 1968 and were summarized by UMTA in a report called Tomorrow’s Transportation: New Systems for the Urban Future, May 1968. The July 1969 issue of Scientific American contained an article called “Systems Analysis of Urban Transportation,” which was a summary of the work under the grant given to the General Research Corporation of Santa Barbara. Several of the Citizens League committee members including Jerry and me had read the Scientific American article and were ready to debate transit alternatives. Several years earlier, while serving as assistant to Arthur Flemming, then President of the University of Oregon, Jerry had become engaged in a controversy over transit alternatives and while at a ski resort, the basic ideas of PRT flashed into his mind. He wrote up his ideas in an article that appeared in an Oregon publication. The previous spring, I had written a paper on PRT. We exchanged papers and found that we had been thinking along the same lines. That initiated a relationship that continue until he became too ill to communicate.


    In early 1969, I had taken on, under the above-mentioned UMTA grant, the coordination of a Task Force on New Concepts in Urban Transportation. We found that several members of the Transit Commission were totally opposed to their staff’s subway plan and Jerry and I met frequently with them to plan a strategy. Jerry’s background in political science, having been honed by years of work in high positions at the federal level, was invaluable as I had then no prior experience in any project involving a public agency. A Minnesota State Senator developed a bill that would give the University a grant of $50,000 to develop a proposal to demonstrate one of the new systems in Minnesota, and Jerry’s advice was a key factor in getting the bill approved – in May 1970. While Jerry was Deputy Director of the Agency for International Development he found time to write the lead article “The Success of the Auto should be a Lesson for Us” for our first PRT conference, held in November 1971.

    After he retired, Jerry became very active in the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA), and for many years as its Chairman, held ATRA together in difficult times. Every time I went to Washington I was a house guest with Jerry and his wife Fran, shown here, and for many years Jerry and I attended the annual ATRA meeting together. My wife Cindy and I miss Fran and Jerry very much. They were our very best friends. Fran died only 3 weeks after Jerry.

    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (11)

    February 5th, 2018


    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.

    1986 – The Eleventh Year.


    In 1986, ATRA reestablished a newsletter. It was described as a forum where members can speak to other members about

    … the features that advanced transit should incorporate;

    … the service and cost goals that advanced transit should seek to achieve;

    … what’s preventing advanced transit from coming into being; and

    … exciting work being done by various individuals and organizations to move advanced transit onto the main agendas of local and national governments.


    The new membership leaflet presented an organization dedicated to helping focus public attention on critical unmet needs in urban transit and in the way in which advanced transit can help satisfy them. It was stressed that advanced transit systems should be complementary to and supportive of existing systems. The newsletter said that “ATRA is the only public interest organization committed to helping bring advanced transit into being.”


    They then commented that cities were promoting a modernized streetcar, about which streetcar promoter Vukan Vuchic declared the “ugly duckling becomes a swan.” The newsletter writer commented that certainly it is more economical than heavy rail and is “better” only because the new advanced transit systems are not ready to be purchased. “In the R&D world the goal is to get more for less.” “True advanced transit, unlike the modernized LRT, will offer a significantly higher level of performance than LRT, and for a lower cost.”


    The newsletter announced that “Taxi 2000 Corporation was established.” It was the new name for Automated Transportation Systems, Inc., which had been formed in 1983 by Dr. Ed Anderson and officials of the University of Minnesota. The new Chairman of the Board was Stuart H. Watson and the new President was Judd Berlin. More will be said about this later.


    The newsletter announced that at the annual elections, Thomas H. Floyd, Jr. was elected the new President of ATRA, and Dr. Byron Johnson, former Colorado Congressman, was elected Chairman.


    At the January 14, 1986 Board Meeting, Dr. Johnson reported on the “Issues Conference” held in Denver the previous November. He said that the participants agreed that “this type of essentially regional conference has real value as a means for drawing local policymakers and others into discussions about how advanced transit concepts could lead to the development of more cost-effective and service-effective options for meeting public transit requirements.” He recommended that ATRA should find the resources needed to develop a compendium of the main conference papers plus a summary of the ideas presented.


    Tom Floyd followed by noting that ATRA must encourage policymakers, urban planners, and hardware developers to press for the development and validation of new transit options that can be more effective in meeting these needs and at considerably more manageable costs. He added that no level of government and no private entity performs the function of validating what transit innovators claim for their products or concepts. Therefore, policymakers and service providers are reluctant to try innovative ideas, and innovative work is impeded by the lack of liability coverage for new products, and all concerned lack ready means for resolving liability issues.


    At its 14 January ATRA Board Meeting, an ad hoc committee was created to examine the description of goals in the document used to solicit members. The feeling was that the goals needed to be more “action oriented” so that they served better to attract new members as well as to influence the future agenda of work by ATRA – and they needed a different focus. The committee felt that they should “put to bed the notion that ATRA is ‘anti’ any transit, but that its main business should be to help bring advanced transit into being, and we should leave to others the primary responsibility for improving conventional systems.” The revision reflected the strong emphasis the drafters thought should be placed on specific actions by ATRA to help overcome the barriers to advanced transit. The drafters sought to strike a balance between an organization that is not a lobbying group and an organization that wants to effect change.


    To clarify the issues Dr. Jarold Kieffer wrote a paper “A Sharper Focus for Advanced Transit,” that appeared in the Winter 1986 issue of the Journal of Advanced Transportation.


    In April, it was announced that “The Papers and proceedings of the November 15-16, 1985 conference had been published and available for purchase.


    In December 1986 ATRA President, Tom Floyd, commented to the Board of Directors: “. . . only advanced transit is capable of reversing the continued downward spiral of transit service in most urban areas.” ATRA Officers proposed that ATRA concentrate on stimulating the development and deployment of new transit technology based on:

    • Networking or grid concepts that can serve the “spread city”,
    • Compact auto-sized vehicles on light and low-cost guideways,
    • Non-stop service from origin station to destination station,
    • A charge for vehicle use rather than for a ride,
    • A capability to carry freight as well as passengers, and
    • A cost-revenue ratio that allows the prospect of profitable or low cost ownership and operation.


    These words were followed by a five-page document entitled “A Sharper Focus for ATRA.” It will be made available to any interested reader.

    1986 was a year of big change for my PRT project. In early 1986, Stuart Watson and Judd Berlin took over our company, now called Taxi 2000 Corporation. Here is a picture of four of us: Stuart, 29 years old at the time, is standing to the left straight and tall in a brown suit coat, Judd a bit shorter is standing next to him, Roger Staehle is standing to the right, and I am sitting in a linear-induction-motor propelled vehicle (actually a motorcycle side car). This was taken at the company Unico in Racine, Wisconsin, as we were preparing to have Unico be our propulsion supplier.1986


    I worked full time for the company during the Spring Quarter, working to line up suppliers of all of the components. I took a trip to Seattle to visit the Boeing AGRT project. They were in the process of shutting down as their contract with UMTA was ending. They were delighted to give me a stack of their reports more than a foot high, glad that someone was continuing to work on an AGRT-like system. I found those documents extremely useful in helping me develop our control system. While technology has greatly improved, their basic control concepts are still valid. For example, the dual-duplex concept they showed me, illustrated to the right, is used extensively by Boeing, Honeywell, and other military contractors. It enormously increases the mean time to unsafe failures, wherever it is used. The numbers I calculated are more than 1020 years, which is virtually infinity.


    In June 1986, Stuart and Judd planned to form a new company that would do a deal with Taxi 2000 Corporation, and Stuart’s lawyers advised him that he could not be in the leadership positon in both Taxi 2000 and the new company. As a result, Stuart and Judd resigned from Taxi 2000, following which I was elected CEO by the remaining members of the Board of Directors. The University of Minnesota, owner of our patents, was represented by Assistant Vice President for Technology Transfer Tony Potami. In July, Tony and I flew to Milwaukee to meet with Judd Berlin, heads of Unico and a Milwaukee steel company, a representative of Davy McKee, and a Vice President of a financial firm that was considering funding the new company. The Milwaukee group proposed that they give the University of Minnesota and Taxi 2000 8% of the new company while they would keep 92%. We said thanks and left. On the flight home Potami said that there was no way he would agree that we would get so little, and we began considering options.


    Through a chain of events that I have not mentioned, I knew Dr. John Sliver, the President of Boston University, and I knew that he had been interested in gaining an interest in Taxi 2000 as a way to increase the endowment of Boston Univeresity. I called Dr. Silver and proposed that if he were to give me an appointment as a visiting professor, I would move to Boston to work out a deal with him. Within a week I had an appointment as a regular Full Professor and moved to Boston in late August with a deal that would require me to teach one course and spend the rest of my time working on Taxi 2000. For 18 months in 1975-6, I had worked as a consultant to a Transportation Group in the Raytheon Missile Systems Division. I has been recruited for that position by Richard F. Daly, then Manager of Government Marketing for Raytheon Company. I had been in regular touch with Dick Daly, now Marketing Manager of the Raytheon Equipment Division, and invited him to become a member of the Taxi 2000 Board of Directors. He immediately agreed, and we worked together for the eight years I remained in Boston.


    During fall 1986 I negotiated with a Boston University Senior Vice President and in early December he presented a proposal, which was enormously favorable to Boston University. Fortunately I had Dick Daly working with me. As a Diretor of Markting, he was a contract negotator. Additionally, in mid December he met with Dr. George Sarney, a new Senior Vice President of Raytheon, who immediately saw that Taxi 2000 should be of interest to Raytheon. He oversaw Raytheon Engineering and Construction Company, and gave us offices there for several years.



    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (10)

    January 3rd, 2018


    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.

    1985 – The Tenth Year.

    The ATRA Board of Directors met on January 15th in Washington, D. C. Dr. Jarold Kief-fer, ATRA Chairman led a discussion of the Issues Conference held the previous November. He stressed that its purpose had been to help develop the key issues that have impeded the timely creation and deployment of advanced transit systems that could be highly cost- and service-effective in meeting the underserved public transportation needs in medium and low density parts of cities. There were just under 50 attendees that included, in addition to ATRA members, persons from transportation agencies, public and private urban planning organizations, economic development firms, consultants and university faculty members. Dr. Kieffer observed that the “discussions appeared inhibited by the fact that the participants had widely varying knowledge about advanced transit concepts.” About half of them were not aware of the advantages and dis-advantages of advanced transit for meeting needs and thus had no basis for judging the utility of these alternatives to heavy and light rail, buses, or autos for effective service. This caused Dr. Kieffer to conclude that if ATRA were to host future conferences on advanced transit issues that it should provide means for familiarizing participants with the technical, service, and cost char-acteristics of advanced transit concepts. It was felt that the work on the conference and the many contacts made helped identify ATRA as an organization exercising leadership in this important challenge area.

    The Board authorized ATRA leadership to plan another advance-transit-issues confer-ence in 1985 in a major western metropolitan area. All Board members were encouraged to submit ideas for the next conference.

    Dr. Catherine Burke was elected President for the coming year, Dr. Byron Johnson was elected Vice President, and Thomas H. Floyd, Jr. was elected Chairman. Dr. Kieffer agreed to continue to serve as Secretary of the Board.

    In a February letter to former members of ATRA, Tom Floyd commented that advanced transit was a target of doubters. Customers and manufacturers willing or able to take risks were relatively few, R&D money was short and uncertain, long-term commitments to serious R&D were hard to find, and critics unfairly attacked ATRA members for allegedly wanting to abandon all heavy and light rail or bus technology. Yet, Floyd gave former members reason to join AT-RA again.

    Drs. Burke and Johnson teamed to initiated planning for the next conference, which was to be held in Denver in fall 1985. Tom Floyd clarified ATRA objectives in terms of its mission definition, identification of it supporters, membership promotion, conferences, and its publica-tions. He resolved that ATRA would renew its newsletter in the coming year. The Denver Conference Program is given on the following pages:

    Denver Program

    During the first half of 1985 my company, Automated Transportation Systems, Inc., was busy developing specifications; finding companies that might team with us; finding suppliers for all of the components; two visits to the General Electric Plastics Division in Pittsfield, Massachusetts; visits in Madison, Wisconsin; a visit to the General Motors Research Center in Warren, Michigan; visits to Waynesboro, Virginia, and Scottsdale, Arizona, to meet with people interested in promoting applications; and even a visit by our CEO, Roger Staehle and me to Mitsubishi engineers in Tokyo. A structural design and construction firm, Peerless Welders, Inc. built the section of guideway shown here. In June, we were invited to give a presentation before many leaders in the Madison community, and it looked very much like we would be locating there. We had an endorsement letter from Madison Gas & Electric Company indicating their support. urban3

    The remainder of the year was mainly devoted to raising the money we would need. In December, it appeared that Roger had hit pay dirt. He visited Stuart Watson, grandson of IBM founder Thomas Watson, and his close friend Judd Berlin at Stuart’s summer home in Stowe, Vermont. Stuart, then 29 years old, wanted to do something that matched his grandfather’s com-pany, and felt that ATS, Inc. could be it. He set out a schedule of investments in ATS in a board meeting in Minneapolis at the end of December, in which he told us that he didn’t like our name. He argued that a new name must be 1) easy to identify with a means for moving people, 2) easy to recognize in any language, and 3) it must project an image of the future. The name he select-ed was Taxi 2000 Corporation. Here is the new logo showing a picture of our system, which had been drawn in 1983. urban4

    The History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (9)

    December 15th, 2017


    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.

    1984 – The Ninth Year.


    I am not aware of any newsletter issued this year. The activity of note was planning for a series of issue conferences and in carrying out the first one. Dr. Jerry Kieffer, as ATRA Board Chairman, obtained favorable expressions of interest in these conferences from the staffs of the Transportation Research Board, the National Leagues of Cities, the International City Managers Association, and the public administration group in Northern Virginia. Dr. Kieffer pointed out that neither the U. S. House of Representatives nor the U. S. Senate subcommittees concerned with urban transportation had given a priority to advanced transit concepts. However, staff members of these committees wished to be involved in the ATRA Conferences. The TRB staff offered the conference facilities of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington for the location of the first conference. The Board agreed that the whole spirit of the conferences was to emphasize positive lines of thinking and action needed to expand the number of cost- and service-effective advanced-transit options.


    A subcommittee was appointed to plan the first conference.   Its first meeting was held at O’Hare Airport in July. It had been decided by the Board that ATRA would hire a consultant as presenter. He would prepare an issue paper to be made available in advance of the first conference. The objective of the conference subcommittee was to define the range of issues that the presenter was to develop in his issue paper. In advance of that first meeting, Dr. Kieffer prepared a list of advanced-transit issues including cost effectiveness, service effectiveness, user acceptance, failure management, construction feasibility, environmental effects, community social and economic gain, and financial requirements. At that first meeting, the subcommittee developed in more detail the charge to the presenter. Moreover, after considerable deliberation and consideration of six individuals, the ATRA Executive Committee selected Morrison Renfrew, Executive Director of the Canadian Institute of Guided Ground Transport, to be the conference presenter. A contract was drawn up for his consultant service for a fee of $1500 plus expenses.

    Here is one paragraph from Renfrew’s paper. The “one U. S. company” he mentions was founded at the University of Minnesota.

    The date of the conference was set for November 15-16, 1984, and invitations were sent out to 100 potential attendees from a wide variety of public and private sector interests. Mr. Renfrew submitted an 18-page paper entitled “Metropolitan Area Transit – The Missing Options.” He first discusses 31 observations about the transit situation, of which the 26th is given above, and then discusses five major areas of problems, issues, and ideas about the future of transit. The paper is as applicable to conditions today as it was in 1984. If any reader of these words wishes, I will scan the paper into my computer and make it available for all. It is a useful read.


    During the year 1984, work on my new PRT system was advancing significantly.


    1. Via its president, Bob Perry, Davy McKee Engineering Corporation became interested to the point that they pledged $1,000,000 of engineering work and paid my salary and expenses to work full time out of their Chicago office for 14 months. We advanced the design in significant ways, developed specifications, found suppliers, and engaged in proposal preparation for several specific applications. Davy McKee was a systems-engineering company that designed and constructed whole plants for a wide variety of applications from energy production to diapers.


    1. A change in leadership was necessary. We elected Dr. Roger W. Staehle, former Dean of the Institute of Technology at the University of Minnesota, as our new President and CEO. He had many contacts in high levels of the corporate and financial world. He established his office close to the University of Minnesota where he had a secretary and my two graduate students, while I continued to work out of the Chicago Office of Davy McKee.


    1. That summer, Roger requested permission from University President C. Peter Magrath for approval for us to use land owned by the University in Rosemont, Minnesota for our test site. In President Magrath’s approval letter he said


    “I am particularly pleased to support the development of the PRT technology since it was conceived and developed at the University of Minnesota. Moreover, I understand that the potential for job creation and economic benefit that might accrue from this technology could have an important impact on the State’s economy, on the University of Minnesota, and on transportation problems worldwide. We are all very excited about the PRT technology and we hope that the Rosemont site will ultimately become the leading international center for this technology.”


    Roger plunged quickly into the task of raising investment capital. Two months later he had finished a document almost an inch thick that he used with potential investors, and he decided to name our PRT system “Alpha.” We had been discussing applications of Alpha at the 3-M Research site in St. Paul; in Oahu, where a company there stated firmly that it was the only solution to Oahu transportation problems; in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Madison, and Virginia.

    On the technical side, I completed many of the analyses needed to answer a variety of questions about how the design should evolve. We had many meetings with people and organizations interested in participating with us, the most important of which was General Electric. The GE Plastics Group wanted to supply our vehicles and they raised the possibility of placing Alpha at their campus in Pittsfield, Mass. Bob Perry, Davy McKee President, sent me to England to check out linear induction motors, because that was the place where the best LIM work had been done. There were two LIM companies in England: Linear Motor, Ltd., a company owned by the Davy Corporation and formed by Imperial College Professor Eric R. Laithwaite, who had begun experimenting with LIMs shortly after World War II, and Force Engineering, a company that had split off from Linear Motor for reasons that often happen with start-up companies. The picture shows me at the right with two engineers from Linear Motor, Ltd. inspecting their test work.

    My paper “Optimation of Transit-System Characteristics” was published in the Spring 1984 edition of the Journal of Advanced Transportation. I distributed the 100 copies I received to people who were interested. This paper was a landmark in the sense that for the first time a comprenensive and rigerous proof was provided that shows that minimization of the capital and operating cost of a public-transportation system leads to a form of PRT, both because of the high ridership PRT will attract and because within the concept of PRT all costs can be minimized in a way not possible with conventional transit.

    Shortly after I arrived at Davy McKee I found an IBM personal computer on my desk. All of the Davy McKee engineers used such computers for all calculations except those that required a large main-frame computer. This was during the age of transition between use of all mainframe computers and PCs. When the price of an HP 19 went below $100 I bought one and it made much of my work easier. When I started my PRT project in September 1981 I was still using the HP 19, but the price of an HP 41 hand-held computer became sufficiently low that I bought one. I was still using it when I joined Davy McKee and even did my first structural analysis of a truss guideway on it. I purchased the first so-called compact PC available, one made by Compaq. This computer had a 9-inch screen and only 10 kilobytes of internal memory with no hard drive, but it served me for almost three years. It was far superior to my HP 41 and I plunged into many analyses much easier. If I had started my PRT design project even a few years earlier, I would have been severely handicapped because I couldn’t afford mainframe-computer time, which went at around $500 per hour. Every year at that time, better hardware and software became available, and I upgraded as I could afford to do so. My computer power on the IBM PCs was sufficient that I could begin developing a PRT vehicle control system. Once I got the vehicle controller working, I developed a simulation of vehicles moving in and out of a station – a program that we used for demonstration of station operations for maany years.

    Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advanced Transit

    December 15th, 2017


    ATRA has instituted the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advanced Transit. The first award was given in 2016 to Prof. em. Jerry Schneider for creating the Innovative Transportation Technologies website.


    The next award will be presented in May of 2018 at the APM-ATS conference in Tampa Florida. Nominations are welcome to through December 31. Nominations should include a half page presentation and motivation. The award consists of eternal recognition, a plaque and a symbolic US$500.


    The Third Martin Lowson Paper Award

    November 30th, 2017

    The Third Martin Lowson Paper Award
    presented at
    The 2017 Podcar City Conference, Las Vegas, USA

    The Martin Lowson Award, donated by the Lowson Family, encourages young researchers to perform high-quality research in the field of Automated Transit Systems (ATN). This (third) year the award was presented to Dr. Tatiana Babicheva. The 500$ award was presented by ATRA member Joerg Schweizer during the PodCar City conference this November in Las Vegas, USA. Her presentation entitled “Empty Vehicle Redistribution and fleet size in autonomous taxi systems” captured the interest of the audience. The many congratulations and vivid discussions after the presentation testified to the quality and relevance of her research. Hopefully the networking experience and warm reception will encourage her to continue working in the field of ATNs.

    Tatiana Babicheva is researcher at VEDECOM, a French research institute with the mission to further individual, carbon-free and sustainable mobility. She received her PhD in 2016 at the Institute of Applied Mathematics named Keldysh in Moscow, Russia, in the field of mathematical modelling, numerical methods and program complexities. Her PhD theses has been dedicated to mathematical modelling of transportation systems. Dr. Babicheva is also head of the mathematical department at the Olympiad school, based in the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.


    Dedicated Roadways Can Benefit Even Level 5 Automated Transit Vehicles

    November 24th, 2017


    by Robert Johnson

    Automated passenger vehicles such as people movers at airports currently operate on exclusive guideways. In some systems, the guideway mechanically constrains the vehicles, while in others it is simply an ordinary road set aside for the exclusive use of the vehicles. Examples of the latter type include the Ultra system at London’s Heathrow airport and the 2getthere system at Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.

    Because of recent advances in software and hardware, automated vehicles (AVs) will soon be able to operate in mixed traffic along with conventionally driven cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. At that point, costly infrastructure will be unnecessary and automated taxis and buses could use existing streets. However, even if an AV were capable of SAE Level 5 operation (automated operation in every situation a human driver could manage), there can still be significant benefits to providing it with an exclusive roadway. In many cases, it will be more cost effective to increase the capacity of a freeway or arterial by adding exclusive lanes for an AV system, rather than conventional lanes open to all vehicles.

    The benefits include:

    • Exclusive lanes for an AV system can be much narrower than conventional lanes. Less side clearance is needed because AVs can steer precisely, and if the vehicles were part of a fleet they could be uniformly narrow. For example, the Ultra vehicle needs a lane only 160 cm (5.3 ft) wide.

    • Less than half as much vertical clearance is needed as for a conventional lane. Only about 2 meters of clearance (6.6 ft) should be adequate for vehicles with all seated passengers. This allows grade separation at greatly reduced cost. In areas of moderate density with a limited number of cross streets, the AV road could be mostly at grade and pass under cross streets in a structure similar to a pedestrian underpass. Pedestrians and cyclists could cross the AV road at points between cross streets by using small bridges. The AV road could drop to about 1 meter (3.3 ft) below grade under the bridge, thus allowing the bridge surface to be slightly more than 1 meter above grade.

    • The support structure for elevated sections of an AV road would be much lighter and less expensive than for an equivalent length of conventional roadway, since the latter must be able to carry heavy trucks.

    • Accidents caused by manually driven vehicles would be eliminated, greatly increasing safety and eliminating delays that even a minor accident can cause.

    • Because of much lower local environmental impact, AV roads could be routed through areas where a conventional road would be unacceptable. Public opposition to new freeways and even arterials is well known. In particular, nearby residents object to noise and pollution from internal combustion engines. If the roadway were part of an AV system, residents could be assured that all vehicles would be electric, and there would be no noise from revving engines, honking horns, squealing tires, or large trucks.

    Most of the benefits mentioned above are greatest for systems using narrow vehicles with all seated passengers. The same benefits are present, but to a lesser degree, for larger automated shuttles that accommodate standees, such as the 2getthere ParkShuttle and the EasyMile and Navya shuttles. These are higher and wider than Ultra vehicles, but can still use exclusive lanes that are narrower and have less vertical clearance than is required for conventional traffic.

    The History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (8)

    November 8th, 2017


    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.

    1983 – The Eighth Year.

     ATRA began the year with a balance of $26,158.54, which was sufficient to begin planning a series of workshops, the purpose of which was to identify key issues whose lack of adequate attention and/or resolution had been blocking advanced transit development and deployment for a long time. It was clear from the discussions that the lack of more service-effective and more cost-effective options to meet the transportation needs of the huge low-density parts of most of the world’s metropolitan areas was a growing source of frustration for transit planners and people needing transportation. The lack of proven alternatives was causing many transportation needs to be left unmet or is leaving the field open to people compelled to back the start or expansion of heavy rail systems. The latter course is being taken in several metropolitan areas even though such systems are extremely costly, time-consuming and disruptive to build, expensive to operate, and cannot, by their nature and characteristics, be deployed widely to meet the daily trip needs of most of the people of these metropolitan areas. Moreover, such systems, if pressed, would place great financial demands upon their communities for many decades ahead and preempt available resources that might have been used to try other ideas. Their installation also discouraged innovation in another way: Heavy rail systems involved the creation of huge capital investments and often bonded indebtedness for stations, guideways, and equipment that could not be lightly written off in favor of new and more effective methods of transit.


    As if to emphasize ATRA concern, Miami proceeded to build its hugely expensive Downtown Component of its Metrorail system (DCM), shown below, with ground breaking ceremonies on August 31. It was the first application of an automated rubber-tired system in a downtown environment in the nation, and was the first such system to interface with a more traditional rapid transit system. The DCM was to transport 3000 passengers per hour on each loop of the 1.9-mile double-loop system. The entire system is above ground. The vehicles have a maximum capacity of 155 passengers and operate at a maximum speed of 30 mph.



    A World Conference on Transportation Research was held in Hamburg, Germany on April 25-29 under the theme “Research for Transportation Policies in a Changing World.”


    A French designed accelerating moving walkway (TRAX) was undegoing pre-site assembly at the licensee factory in Nantes, France. TRAX was the only system chosen for the third phase of the U. S. Accelerating Moving Walkway System Program. This phase consisted of full-scale testing to determine its acceptability for all passengers, including children, aged and handicapped.


    In June of 1983, with the assistance of the Dean of the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology and the Assistant Vice President for Technology Transfer, a company we called “Automated Transportation Systems, Inc.” was established to commercialize the PRT system I was developing. The founding Board of Directors is shown here. Dick Gehring was elected President and CEO. The four members other than me each invested $40,000, which enabled me, with my two graduate students, to work on the project for the following year. In September the investment firm Dain Bosworth agreed to manage our offering in discussions with potential investors. Before the end of that month we held investment meetings with several possible individual investors as well as with companies we thought would be interested. We also contacted state agencies and the Governor’s office, as well as members of the Minnesota Congressional Delegation.




    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.”

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    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.

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