A notional replacement
for existing public transportation system
s. A personal rapid transit system
(PRT) would consist of a network
of light-weight, probably elevated, tracks
that cover a broad territory
. On this system would run numerous small cars, holding 1-4 people
each. A rider would go to a station
and call a car
. Once inside, they would enter a destination
and the car
would be routed
to the destination
by a central computer
system. It is faster, safer, and more convenient than traditional transit options.
The idea dates to at least the 1960s, when computers, systems theory, and cybernetics advanced to the point where the above scenario becomes possible. An MIT thesis project of the time describes a system of air-cushioned local and regional cars based on this idea. As well as personal cars, the system included buses and automobile carriers. It has been toyed with in different incarnations by many people since then. Raytheon has even built a small demonstrator at one of their facilities in Massacheusetts. The technology undoubtedly exists to do it. The small cars allow the construction of very light rails, easing the construction costs in relation to current rapid transit technologies. The money, leadership, and political will are lacking.