PRT (Personal Rapid Transit)

PRT could be an option to use locally in conjunction with a monorail system.

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Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is a concept in which small vehicles operate at moderate speed over a fixed guideway, and would probably be operated automatically by a computer system.

My concept of a PRT system to be used in conjunction with the monorail system would be a scaled-down monorail operating within a high-traffic area locally around a station for the high-speed regional monorail sytem. It would be similar to an amusement ride, but would serve a very practical purpose.

Imagine small cars that would hold six or eight people. These would run on a small monorail beam (guideway), and typically would interconnect a monorail station and points up to a mile away.

Imagine arriving at 155th and Aurora by the regular full-size monorail train. You would step off the train onto the station platform. You could then step into one of the PRT cars and push a button for your destination, just as you step into an elevator and push the button for your floor.

Continuing to use 155th and Aurora as an example, nearby destinations include Sears and two groups of smaller stores in Aurora Square, Shoreline Community College close to a mile away, and a strip mall on the east side of Aurora south of 155th St. One PRT guideway could serve Sears and one group of adjacent stores, another could serve the other group of stores in Aurora Sqaure, and third could serve the strip mall on the east side of Aurora, and a fourth PRT guideway could go to Shoreline Community College.

After stepping into the PRT car and pushing the button for your destination, a computer system would switch the car onto the appropriate guideway and the car would transport you to your selected stop. At the destination the car would be switched onto a siding where it would wait for you to get out, and the car would remain there for somebody to board it and either go back to the monorail station or to another stop in the local PRT system.

I have given an example of a local PRT system serving stores and a community college. Other potential locations for a local PRT system include large shopping centers and groups of high-density housing. An example of a shopping center is Northgate. I propose a monorail station at the Northgate Transit Center (my route number 2). A local PRT system could link the monorail station with Northgate Mall (with several stops in the mall), the Best Buy/Target complex north of the mall, strip malls east of the mall along Northgate Way, and an office complex south of the Transit Center. If there is no monorail station at North Seattle Community College, a PRT guideway could cross the freeway to serve the college and offices and other businesses north of the college. In fact, it may be possible to eliminate a monorail station at the college if the local PRT system is built.

A local PRT system could also serve the University District, the University of Washington campus, University Hospital, Greek Row, Husky Stadium, and University Village.

Another local PRT system could serve Safeco Field, the Seahawks football stadium, the train station, and the International District.

I personally do not believe that a city-wide PRT system is practical. It would have the advantage of flexibility in that a person could get in a PRT car in any part of the city, select a destination, and be moved there automatically through a system of guideways and switches. However, despite the relatively low cost of a PRT system, the cost for hundreds of miles of guideways every few blocks apart throughout the city would be enormous. I think buses are the best solution for local neighborhood transit, with monorails serving high-volume routes.

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©2002 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated on 9 May 2016

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