A Personal Rapid Transit system (UK and Abu Dhabi)
The Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is a new kind of energy-efficient transit system, in which cars are replaced by a network of automated (driverless), battery-powered vehicles. PRT systems are designed to combine the convenience and privacy of automobiles with the environmental benefits of mass transit. The vehicles, or ‘passenger pods’, each designed to carry from four to six people, move between interlinked stations. A person or group gets into a pod and selects a destination and the vehicle drives there automatically.
PRT is about to get its first large-scale testing and deployment. Two of PRT systems are currently being installed, one at Heathrow International Airport, near London, and one in the United Arab Emirates, where it will be the primary source of solar-powered transportation in Masdar City. The modularity of the PRT system means that vehicles will only run when needed, thus saving energy, and the inefficiency of running public transport in off-peak hours.
As a prototype, the PRT is currently financially expensive (although lower than the costs of a light railway of the same capacity), but from an energy perspective it is extremely cost-efficient. There is currently much interest in PRT, especially in new sustainable urban design, and within contained environments, such as hospitals, universities, and new business districts.
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