Tag Archives: personal rapid transit

The future of bicycling?

As you might know we are in favour of personal rapid transit, however not all PRT systems are the same, though most are powered by electricity. But not the Shweeb, which is instead powered by muscle-power. As shown on this YouTube video, Shweeb consists of a monorail track on which aerodynamic capsules are moving. Like bicycles these capsules are propelled by peddling.

According the inventor of Shweeb, the capsules can go as fast as 80 km/h, but you don’t need to be an athlete to do so. And since the system is entirely run on human muscle power, it’s also an environment-friendly mode of mass transit. Sounds great.

Well, not completely. Though you don’t have to be an athlete, a lot of people can’t use this system because they are paralysed or have other medical conditions which prevents them from using this system. Secondly, the system doesn’t allow passengers to take much luggage with them. So doing your weekly groceries with Shweeb, forget it. Thirdly, the capsules are only for one persons, which is problematic for those who want travel in groups.

This is not to say that Shweeb is a bad idea, on the contrary we like it very much. Only if you are to decide on investing a huge sum of money on a public transport system, you need to consider all advantages as well all disadvantages of the systems under consideration. And as far as we can see, Shweeb seems to be just another idea which sounds nice, but would never be used at large scales.

See also:

The Official site of Shweeb

Public transportation in O’Neill cylinders

In a previous post I discussed the spatial planning of the interior of O’Neill Cylinders. In a note I promised to make another post about (public) transportation inside O’Neill cylinders. For the sake of the argument, I will assume here that the chosen spatial planning is either the Broadacre cityGarden city or Colombia design. Further I want to recall that a O’Neill cylinders has a length of approximately 35 kilometers and a diameter of 6 kilometers (specific dimension may vary among different sources, however the difference is usually only a few kilometers).

A key feature of the design of the O’Neill cylinder is the alternating arrangement of “valleys” (stripes of land) and windows, three of each. It follows from the given dimension that each valley is approximately 3 kilometers wide and 35 kilometers long. Gerard O’Neill himself proposed that there would be parallel to the valley’s heartline a subterranean maglev line. This would function like most subway systems on Earth and would enable (long distance) rapid transit in an O’Neill cylinder. However this system, would not quite suitable for short distance travel, therefore a second transportation system is required.

While the maglev subway will serve as the core of the framework of intra-habitat transportation, there will be finer second network. What requirements do we look for? Ideally we would like an on-demand service, great amount of privacy and the ability to choose our destination. However do not like to waste a lot of time for searching for parking lots. Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is a proposed idea which would combine the best of private and public transportation.

In order to show what a PRT system might look like, I have selected two YouTube videos about personal rapid transit systems. The first YouTube video (of 8.45 minutes) is about the personal rapid systems as designed by Swedish company Vectus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1rf_lOb3b0&list=PL4229DA20757B7CD6

This second YouTube video (5.55 min) is a promotional video of Vectus, in which they explain how their product will work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5W3OSZu9oA

Yes, I do realise that Vectus is a commercial company which seeks to sell its concepts. Nevertheless, I think that this “sales man videos” give a clear picture how PRT systems would operate in practice.

The prospects of personal rapid transit systems are bright. They will enable to establish the first car-free society in history without sacrificing the individual freedom of movement.