'SkyTran': Personal Rapid Transit for Detroit?

A personal rapid transit proposal called "SkyTran" might be a smart choice for Detroit, according to this article.

"Before the city starts tearing up streets for the $520-million light-rail line up Woodward, which will inevitably cost more and be used less than projected, maybe someone should get back in touch with Sanders and at least invite him to make a presentation. Especially considering that he doesn't want any taxpayer money to build his new system, just rights-of-way, and would consider manufacturing its components here for export to other cities that SkyTran is sure will want what they see working cheaply and cleanly in Detroit.

'We're not coming with a hand out; we're a privately held company,' Sanders said in a telephone interview last week."

SkyTran officials estimate that the cost of building the system would be about 1/20th of what it would cost to build surface rail.

Full Story: Ron Dzwonkowski: SkyTran offers Detroit new idea for mass transit

Comments

Comments

Detroit has suffered enough

The SkyTran system is the most unsophisticated, poorly-thought out form of transit I've ever seen. It seems more like a cynical attempt to lock Detroit into more automobile dependency and to block or muddy the development of light rail. Simply, put: SkyTran is another half-baked "people mover" idea in which the imperative seems to be to obliterate the streets and to lock people in automobile dependency (note that the stations in the video prominently feature automobiles).

A real transit solution starts with walkable urbanism, complete streets, safe streets, and modest-priced housing close to jobs, education, and commerce. The goal should be able to support the majority of people living car-free. That would go a long way to allowing people to live in dignity as transportation becomes more expensive. The designers of SkyTran never seem to have experienced walkable urbanism nor have taken any form of transit nor have visited or studied the thousands of years of history and current examples of proven success in car-free civilization.

The SkyTran system, as it is presented here, seems more like a boondoggle that is designed to fail and lock Detroit into more decades of decline and automobile dependency.

Michael Lewyn's picture
Blogger

I don't quite understand

So what exactly is so bad about SkyTran?

Daniel Lerch's picture

Well at least they're not considering...

...the Schweeb! http://shweeb.com/

There's plenty of content online (of varying degree of profesionalism) describing the various shortcomings and problems of PRT, e.g.

http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_prt001.htm

http://www.roadkillbill.com/PRT-SkytranAbsurd.html

PRT kept coming up in conversations related to some of my work (on cities in the post-cheap-oil future) a few years ago, so I spent some time looking into what it was all about -- including meeting in person with a proponent who is working on the tech development side, and talking with a number of advocates. I came away extremely unimpressed.

Advocates often claim that PRT combines the best of both worlds: the independence and privacy of a car plus the efficiencies of public transit. My view is that in most metropolitan settings, it would actually combine the *worst* of both worlds: the enormous, inefficient "one-size-fits-all" infrastructure required for private cars plus the "take-it-or-leave-it" dependence on publicly-shared vehicles operated by the ultimately-centralized techno-management system of public transit.

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