Taking the 'Mass' Out of Mass Transit

Is the isolation of personal rapid transit truly viable for mass transit?

As the Shweeb takes Google's Project 10^100 prize in public transport innovation, Erica Schlaikjer of TheCityFix asks: "How much more isolated can we get, suspended in enclosed pods, watching vibrant street life whizzing by?"

She continues: "While the idea of adapting "a thrilling and innovative riding experience" to an urban setting is exciting (the Agroventures Park Shweeb ride can reach "up to 45 kilometers per hour and 60-degree swings on the bends,") it seems wasteful to seriously consider this technology as an "innovation" in public transportation, when there are so many other low-hanging-fruit solutions to improve the way people move around in cities.

Just considering the dollar cost per kilometer of infrastructure, the Shweeb seems less financially responsible than simply building more (or better) bike lanes, sidewalks or bus corridors -- all of which are relatively low-cost. Yes, the Shweeb would be cheaper than building a new metro or light rail system, but it still requires significant infrastructure to move just one person (or up to four people) at a time. Why not fund high-quality articulated buses that can transport a couple hundred passengers? If existing bus systems are costly, why not figure out ways to make them more economical, rather than creating a new type of mass transit? Or, if last-mile connectivity is the problem, why not invest in something like city-wide, high-tech, well-branded bike-sharing systems?"

Thanks to Garrett Bradford

Full Story: Google Awards $1 Million to Shweeb

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