When the PRT plan at Masdar was scrapped, what exactly did we lose?
The folks at Singularity Hub offer an interesting analysis of Masdar’s PRT failure. Why is it, David Hill wonders out loud, that we have made massive advancements in telecommunications but precious few intransportation?
Masdar gave us the perfect opportunity to take the next giant leap but we slipped and fell, our Fifth Element fantasies dashed in the process. Alas, the tiny self-navigating pods were simply too expensive. Or at least, the infrastructure necessary to lift them off the ground would have broken an already strained budget. What exactly have we lost?
First of all, there would have been a heavenly six square kilometer car-free zone; the little pod cars designed by Zagato and developed by the Dutch firm 2getthere wouldn’t have created any pollution at all. And yet the efficient fleet might have made up to 135,000 trips every day, allowing people a more private, comfortable public transportation experience.
This elevated system would have done away with taxis (which would have been great for those of us who use them, but not so great on the job-creation front.)
Lithium-phosphate batteries that could have kept the cars going for 60km on a mere 1.5 hour charge would have allowed each vehicle to take 40 trips without recharging. And the same infrastructure would have enabled Freight Rapid Transport – up to 5,000 trips a day.
Fortunately, we still have an underground metro and light rail transit system which will ultimately link Masdar with the rest of Abu Dhabi. There’s that. But if the emirate’s wealthand political will isn’t strong enough for radical advances in public transportation, then we might be stuck with the sluggish Fords and Hondas of old.