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

    Dr. J. Edward Anderson Receives ATRA Award

    May 11th, 2018


    ATRA instituted the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advanced Transit in honor of individuals who, by their work and commitment, have contributed to the advancement of technology, to the dissemination of knowledge and to public acceptance of advanced transit.

     Nominations were invited from all over the world. The award committee unanimously decided to present this year’s award to Dr. Anderson.

     The motivation reads: “Dr. Anderson has inspired a generation of researchers and industrialists to build on his research to get advanced transit systems developed and proven in public operation.”

     The award is presented every two years in conjunction with the APM-ATS conference. The ceremony took place in Tampa on May 2nd.

     In his acceptance speech Dr. Anderson pointed out other PRT pioneers who inspired him during the early years of advanced transit in the sixties and seventies.



    May 11th, 2018


    A recent ballot to remove an onerous requirement for ATN systems with offline stations and less than 25 passengers received 24 yes-votes, two abstentions and zero no-votes from ASCE APM Standards Committee members. This requirement mandated that a following vehicle must assume a preceding vehicle can stop instantaneously (as in hitting a brick wall that suddenly appears in its path). It effectively limits ATN systems to minimum headways of three to four seconds.

    The requirement is replaced with a requirement to rigorously maintain a separation zone between any two vehicles based on the maximum stopping speed of the front vehicle and the minimum stopping speed of the rear vehicle including any effects of latencies and failures in either vehicle and/or wayside equipment. In a perfect world, this could allow sub-second headways. Even if headways only improve by a factor of two, this will be significant to the viability of ATN.

    At their May 2, 2018 meeting in Tampa the Committee dealt with comments raised in the balloting process. They then agreed to move ahead and incorporate this change in the 2018 edition of the Standards due out later this year.


    ATRA President Muller discusses balloting comments at the ASCE APM Standards Committee Meeting in Tampa


    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (14)

    May 11th, 2018


    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.

    1989 – The Fourteenth Year.

    Please click on link below for Year 14 history.

    The History of the Advanced Transit Association Year 14 (1989)

    Regulations required: safety drives autonomous vehicles market.

    April 13th, 2018


    Sjoerd van der Zwaan (Chief Technology Officer) and
    Robbert Lohmann (Chief Operations Officer)

    Please see paper below:

    Regulations required: safety drives autonomous vehicles market.

    A Winning Combination

    April 5th, 2018



    by Shannon Sanders McDonald


    Please click link below for the full article:

    A Winning Combination 

    History of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Year by Year (13)

    April 5th, 2018



    by J. Edward Anderson, first ATRA President.

    1988 – The Thirteenth Year.

    Please click on link below for Year 13 history.

    The History of the Advanced Transit Association Year 13 (1998)

    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 Year 12 (1987)

    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