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Re: [carfree_cities] Masdar and PRT

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  • Jon Koller
    The stations at Masdar look amusingly similar to the docks in the Carfree Cities book, although they function differently. Link below for an image.
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 1, 2009
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      The stations at Masdar look amusingly similar to the docks in the Carfree
      Cities book, although they function differently. Link below for an image.

      http://i725.photobucket.com/albums/ww257/jdk58/masdar.jpg

      -Jon Koller



      On Sun, Feb 1, 2009 at 5:26 PM, Jon Koller <jonkoller@...> wrote:

      > The stations at Masdar look amusingly similar to the docks in the Carfree
      > Cities book, although they function differently. I've attached an image for
      > those interested.
      >
      > -Jon Koller
      >
      >
      > On Sun, Feb 1, 2009 at 12:06 PM, Christopher Miller <
      > christophermiller@...> wrote:
      >
      >> Treehugger has an article today from its reporter at the World Future
      >> Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi on plans for Personal Rapid Transit as a
      >> part of the transportation infrastructure in Masdar.
      >>
      >> http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/02/masdar-prt-interview.php
      >>
      >> Some very interesting comments fromt he planner being interviewed
      >> about the contexts where this is workable compared to mass public
      >> transportation, including the cultural context in Abu Dhabi. I also
      >> find their planned 7 m/s speed (around 25 km/h or some 15 mph) a bit
      >> of an eye-opener: about the same as riding a bike at a good clip.
      >>
      >> =========================================================
      >>
      >> Abu Dhabi to Debut Personal Rapid Transit "Podcars" Later This Year
      >> by Jesse Fox, Tel Aviv, Israel on 02. 1.09
      >> CARS & TRANSPORTATION
      >>
      >> BUZZ UP!
      >>
      >>
      >> PRT car designed by Zagato, unveiled recently at the World Future
      >> Energy Summit.
      >>
      >> The designers of Masdar City, Abu Dhabi's new post-petroleum city, are
      >> not bound by the usual set of rules and constraints. Money is not
      >> really an issue, and the political leadership is always willing to try
      >> out innovative ideas that the rest of the world regards as unproven,
      >> unorthodox or just plain fantasy.
      >>
      >> One of them is PRT, personal rapid transit, a system of transportation
      >> featuring compact, driver-less "podcars." In Masdar, where the streets
      >> will be entirely free of automobiles, a network of these compact
      >> electric taxis will provide clean and quiet transportation to the
      >> city's residents, as well as commuters. The first PRT cars are set to
      >> begin running later this year. Admittedly intrigued, TreeHugger sat
      >> down with one of the system's designers recently at the World Future
      >> Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi to hear more about the project.
      >>
      >>
      >> Luca Guala is a transportation planner with Systematica, the firm that
      >> drew up the plans for Masdar's PRT system. According to Guala,
      >> Systematica's planners spent months working with Foster + Partners,
      >> the city's architectural planners, to integrate sustainable transport
      >> solutions into the city's design.
      >>
      >> In addition to PRT, he says, a light rail line will snake through
      >> Masdar, most likely running between Abu Dhabi's international airport
      >> and the city center, some 20 km away. Although no cars will be allowed
      >> into Masdar City, nine multi-story parking lots will be scattered
      >> along its perimeter. Residents, commuters, visitors and buses will all
      >> have dedicated parking spots there, allowing them to own and use cars
      >> outside the city walls.
      >>
      >> TreeHugger: Would it be fair to describe PRT as a system of
      >> transportation which combines the sustainability of a light rail with
      >> the convenience of the private car?
      >>
      >> Guala: The PRT system in Masdar City will be a complementary system to
      >> the light rail, which will cross the city. PRT is not a system that
      >> can move huge masses of people, for that you need a light rail or a
      >> metro. A metro can move 60,000 passengers per hour � that's equal to
      >> about 20 lanes of highway.
      >>
      >> One of the differences between car travel and public transportation is
      >> the experience of traveling at rush hour. On the highway, you may be
      >> stuck, but you're sitting in the comfort and privacy of your car.
      >> Meanwhile, on the subway you're in motion, be you're packed in with
      >> hundreds of other people.
      >>
      >> Masdar City's PRT system will have no rush hour congestion. When the
      >> computer sees that the network is approaching capacity, it will simply
      >> not allow cars to leave stations. This will not happen frequently, and
      >> when it does happen, passengers will be asked to wait for a few minutes.
      >>
      >> Generally we foresee no more than a three minutes wait for passengers
      >> at a station, but there may be special occasions when the wait time is
      >> longer. If the Rolling Stones have a concert in Masdar, an event like
      >> that is bound to create congestion, and you may have to wait for more
      >> than three minutes. But we do not expect anything like that on a
      >> normal workday morning. You won't be late to work in Masdar City
      >> because of traffic.
      >>
      >>
      >> The PRT vehicles will travel at speeds of approximately 7 meters per
      >> second, with the longest routes in the city being perhaps 2.5 km. So
      >> let's say you reach a station, wait maybe 1.5 minutes for your car to
      >> arrive, travel for 5 minutes if your destination is relatively far
      >> away, and then exit the station, which will take around a minute. So
      >> the longest trips in the city will be around 7, perhaps 10 minutes long.
      >>
      >> PRT cars will move along rights of way, approximately 6 meters under
      >> street level. [Masdar City's streets will be raised off the ground,
      >> but buildings will be built at ground level, with the first couple of
      >> stories serving as basements and space for technical equipment.]
      >>
      >> We decided not to build elevated tracks in Masdar. Elevated tracks
      >> would put the cars between the first and second floors of buildings,
      >> and no one wants to see cars, even silent ones, zooming past their
      >> window. Plus a spaghetti grid network might not be so nice to look at
      >> from below, and could become a real visual issue in the city's narrow
      >> streets.
      >>
      >> TH: What will it be like to travel on the PRT system in Masdar?
      >>
      >> Guala: Passengers would descend a flight of stairs or an elevator to
      >> the station - perhaps an escalator in larger stations, but we decided
      >> to use only a few escalators, since they are more energy intensive.
      >> Elevators are necessary for the mobility disabled.
      >>
      >> You will swipe a smart card through a machine, and a welcome message
      >> will appear. One option is that the system will recognize you and
      >> greet you personally: "Good morning, where do you want to go today?"
      >> Perhaps the system will remember your usual path, and offer it to you
      >> as an option. After you click on your destination, the system will say
      >> something like, "Your car is arriving in 2 minutes at platform number
      >> 3." You may have to stand on a line, and you will be able to identify
      >> your car by its number.
      >>
      >> The second option is that you will enter your destination into the
      >> system when you are already sitting inside a car.
      >>
      >> Initially, the system will be very simple, with only a couple of
      >> stations. During this period, the system will function kind of like an
      >> elevator � you press a button and go to the third floor. Think of it
      >> as a horizontal lift. Later on it will be more sophisticated, and
      >> passengers will be able to get within 100 meters of any destination.
      >>
      >> The cars will not run on tracks, but will operate within a kind of
      >> grid network, and take the shortest paths to get where they need to
      >> be. The cars will have wheels, and will be battery powered.
      >>
      >> TH: What kind of history does PRT have in practice?
      >>
      >> Guala: PRT systems have had problems with things like cost overruns in
      >> the past. Few systems have actually been fully built and implemented.
      >> The one in Morgantown, West Virginia is the only one currently in
      >> existence. There is also one under construction inHeathrow airport in
      >> London.
      >>
      >> Morgantown was built some 30 years ago, and was extremely expensive.
      >> They had to invent many of the components of the system from scratch,
      >> including the computer system. It was a prototype in every sense.
      >> Today, the computerization aspect is almost trivial. If your laptop
      >> had been around back then, it would have been powerful enough to
      >> implement Morgantown's control system.
      >>
      >> The only pure PRT systems going up today are the ones in Masdar and
      >> Heathrow � different systems which work according to similar logic.
      >> One of the companies involved in developing the system here in Masdar,
      >> 2getthere, has developed a system for transporting freight containers
      >> in the Rotterdam port in the Netherlands that works exactly like PRT.
      >> In Masdar, cargo will also be transported by PRT, using special
      >> freight cars.
      >>
      >> TH: How was the system planned out?
      >>
      >> Guala: We used the same "predict and provide" models that are used to
      >> plan new roads. We had rough data about things like population size,
      >> arrival times, etc. We ran a few models and found that a few areas
      >> came out congested, so we interacted with the town planners and tried
      >> to get the best placement for various land uses.
      >>
      >>
      >> A schematic representation of a PRT system vs. monorail. Image
      >> courtesy ofSystematica.
      >>
      >> For example, something like a conference center, which attracts a lot
      >> of people all at once, could become a local generator of congestion.
      >> So we said: let's move it slightly to the side. The end result is a
      >> large patchwork of land uses, with none of the city's districts
      >> clearly defined by a single use, like offices, residential and so on.
      >> That is ideal from a transit perspective, because it diffuses demand
      >> [traffic.]
      >>
      >> In Masdar, you will be able to live very close to where you work. The
      >> districts will be in use at all hours. There will be nodes of activity
      >> at the intersections of routes, but the trick is that each nodes does
      >> not serve people doing the same thing and traveling at the same time �
      >> thus no traffic is created.
      >>
      >> TH: How did the specific cultural context in Abu Dhabi affect the
      >> planning?
      >>
      >> Guala: Well, I am Italian. I bring with me a certain cultural model �
      >> namely the good parts of the Italian city. I think it is possible to
      >> apply the Italian city model in Abu Dhabi to a certain extent. But you
      >> can't just transplant something to another culture and make it work.
      >>
      >> The classic Arabic city has many similarities to the Italian city.
      >> There was a common way of living in the Mediterranean Basin, in
      >> Christian as well as Muslim areas. From a town planner's perspective,
      >> the classic Arabic "medina" [dense Middle Eastern city with narrow
      >> streets and interior courtyards] and Venice are similar. Masdar City
      >> takes its inspiration more from the Arabic medina than from the
      >> Italian city.
      >>
      >> There are other cultural preferences involved here as well. People in
      >> Europe are used to taking public transport. It's not necessarily like
      >> that here. Plus there is more sensitivity here to the privacy of the
      >> family, which led us to suggest a different kind of system, more
      >> suited to the local cultural context.
      >>
      >> TH: Is PRT cost-efficient?
      >>
      >> Guala: This will be an expensive system. It has to be that way,
      >> because it's a prototype. From an energy perspective it's extremely
      >> cost-efficient, which is what Masdar [the Masdar Initiative is the
      >> corporate body that is building Masdar City] wants. The maintenance of
      >> a system like this is more expensive than that of a system based on
      >> buses, but the level of service is absolutely unreachable by other
      >> forms of public transportation.
      >>
      >> The huge advantage of PRT is that it is "on demand," including during
      >> off-peak hours. During peak hours, PRT is less efficient than public
      >> transport. But PRT is a 24-hour service, just as available during off-
      >> peak hours as it is during peak hours. This is much more efficient
      >> than running empty buses all night. There are advantages in terms of
      >> personal security as well � no long waits in the middle of the night,
      >> for example.
      >>
      >> I don't really know about the financial aspects in detail, it's not
      >> really part of our job as planners. It is technically possible to
      >> cover costs with ticket fees. A fee roughly equivalent to the cost of
      >> a taxi ride would cover the costs of the system. There is a huge
      >> investment cost in a system like this, but after it is prototyped, the
      >> costs will come down. The actual cost of PRT is lower than the costs
      >> for a light rail of the same capacity.
      >>
      >> TH: What kind of prospects are there for PRT in other places?
      >>
      >> Guala: There is a lot of interest in PRT right now, especially in new
      >> developments. In existing cities it's a bit trickier to make it work.
      >> The optimum place for a system like PRT could be in smaller towns and
      >> in contained, controlled environments, like hospitals, universities,
      >> new business districts, places like that.
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >> =========================================================
      >>
      >> Christopher Miller
      >> Montreal QC Canada
      >>
      >>
      >>
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      >> Yahoo! Groups Links
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