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Morgantown's PRT, A Solution to US Peak Oil in 1970

To identify solutions to the 1973 Oil Embargo and urban traffic problems Congress commissioned study PB-244854, "Automated Guideway Transit". It was published in 1975 and identified Morgantown's PRT as the solution. It warned of "institutional failures" within US DOT as the likely barrier to adoption. It documents that Federal regulations have the been the barrier to urban transport innovation for "four to six decades" with only "relatively minor cosmetic changes". Today, 45 years later, we still have the same barriers, only minor cosmetic changes, and perpetual oil-wars. www.postRoads.com provides background on why the Boston Tea Party, a demostrations against a government transportation monopoly that triggered a war, caused the Framers to forbid Federal taxing to build the government transportation monopolies that are the barrier to innovation. There are 21 Presidential veto messages enforcing the "post Roads" restriction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tricia Nixon opened the first self-driving car network on Oct 24, 1972. She said it was “more fun than Disneyland.” The Federal highway monopoly has blocked further deployments of PRT in America since. That same highway policy caused the bankruptcy/abandonment of nearly half the freight railroads despite 400+ ton-miles per gallon efficiencies.

  Summary:

Morgantown PRT opened in 1975 and has delivered 110 million injury-free passenger miles. By all accounts, the Morgantown PRT has been an absolute success. Link to a 1977 video of that success two years after the PRT opened. Below is a letter from the Mayor or Morgantown explaining the benefits PRT has provided to his city. 

 

  In response to the 1973 Oil Embargo, the US Senate asked DOT for mobility solutions to prevent hardships in future embargoes. The Office of Technology Assessment provided an answer to the Senate Committee on Appropriations in Automated Guide Ways and Personal Rapid Transit (PB-244854). An independent audit in 2010 indicates the network pays for itself every 5 years. The Office of Technology Assessment study resulted in the conclusion that "PRT has the highest potential service level and may have the highest patronage level of all AGT [Automated Guideway Transit] systems." The also study accurately predicted what would be its own failings:

  • Federally sponsored R & D has not included a coordinated program for conversion of successful products into operational systems.
  • UMTA's R&D programs [US DOT Urban Mass Transit Administration]... have neglected near-term ... simpler approaches to correct transit problems.
  • Finally, institutional failures may have hindered implementation.

  Germany built a similar system with Cabinetaxi (updated system at Dortmund, Germany). More recently, other companies have been developing their own PRT systems which will solve various transportation challenges. ULTraPRT at Heathrow Airport and Masdar City are two of the more developed Systems. JPods networks can be built for a fraction of the cost of Morgantown's PRT, going beyond PRT to a whole new level of on-demand personal mobility networks. To support the deployment of such networks, JPods has created a set of software programs that allow anyone to model solar-powered mobility networks for their community. Click to get the software.  
 
Visit from China Arranged by JPods - 2011

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