Selasa, 04 Oktober 2011
Transportation of the Future–Fancy!
Throughout the twentieth century, visions of the future have almost invariably included flying cars. It’s an understandable idea, of course; personal automobiles have been the dominant means of transportation for generations, and as cities build skyward, it only stands to reason that our roadways would head that direction, too. But with fuel costs being what they are (and likely to keep climbing), and high-altitude collisions a terrifying prospect, future transportation might need to move in a different direction.
Engineers are increasingly moving toward innovative methods of public transportation as the way of the future. One proposed system is called PRT, or Personal Rapid Transit. PRT is a sort of mixture between rail travel and a taxi service: small cars (something like 3-6 passengers) zipping along a city-wide web of elevated rails. Since you’d be traveling along or in a small group, there would be no stopping on the way to your destination, and no need to wait for the next train. Just hop into one of the fun-sized people movers and off you go.
PRT systems have the capability to reduce traffic and pollution, reduce commute times, and, depending on the design, offer non-stop transport on demand. Some places are already working on PRT systems; the emirate of Abu Dhabi is building a whole new city, Masdar, which will forbid automobiles entirely in favor of mass transit and a new PRT network. Morgantown, West Virginia has boasted a primitive version of PRT with its inter-campus people mover system since the 1970’s. It has it’s flaws, of course, but then again it’s almost forty years old. Technology has come a long way since it was first built, but so far the Morgantown PRT hasn’t been substantially updated.
PRT is not as sexy as flying cars, I’ll admit. Few things are. But until there are parking garages hovering over downtown Nashville, PRT could be the next best thing.