In this recent article Michael Andregg is spot on: we need to get people thinking about PRT. The problem as I see it is that he is a victim of his own hyperbole. Do we really need PRT? Of course we do. If we think for just a moment, we already have PRT: the bicycle.
The old technology was light rail and the new technology Personal Rapid Transit, or PRT. Engineers at the U showed that PRT could do a superior job for about a third of the cost in energy and money compared to buses and trains, including "light" trains. It could do this because it involves very light electric vehicles carrying only one to three passengers on nonstop, one-way trips above existing transportation grids on 3-foot diameter guideways. They showed that PRT could operate 24 hours a day over entire areas rather than be confined to schedules on high-density corridors because it requires no drivers and that it could be built without tearing up neighborhoods or businesses for years. Per mile, it would cost about one-tenth as much to build as light rail.
I can think of an even better way to save money while improving transportation. Why not take the existing infrastructure that we currently have and redesign them for proper bicycle use. I am sure this would be at 1/3 the cost of proposed PRT, if not even less. As many cities around the world have proven it might cost nothing at all other than the salary of a few pedestrian and bike planners. I almost forgot, we'll need some white paint.
By rethinking how are roads are used and simply by retiming lights, creating bike right-of-ways, and changing some legislation and laws, we could have PRT in the matter of a few years. I guess my flawed theory is that my PRT is based on an old mode of transportation that has been working for more than 100 years. Maybe it is time that we caught up to the modern day of the two wheeled human powered vehicle.