Coaster PRT

Austrian system with two models, one for urban use and one for mountainous terrain.  Demonstration track including severe weather usage.

MicroRail PRT

Fort Worth, Texas developer of several systems including larger mass transit and container cargo systems.


Page Links


EDICT, Evaluation and Demonstration of Innovative City Transport, Jan. 2005

Summary of in-depth study of 5 European cities, funded by the European Union

Report on the Feasibility of PRT in Santa Cruz, California, Dec 2006









































PRT Systems


Network System:  

Unlike LRT, PRT is a network system with lines going in many directions with dozens of stations to take you from where you are to where you want to go.  The lower cost of the system allows for more track and stations to be built for the same amount of funding.  More track means greater accessibility and higher ridership resulting in a premium quality public transit system.




PRT goes straight to your destination at 40-60 km/hr without stopping along the way as stations are placed off of the main guideway to allow vehicles to by-pass the stations.  The strength of network system, allows vehicles to travel alternative routes when other lines are busy. Uninterrupted flow is the key to system capacity, not vehicle size. Therefore, a PRT system can carry as many people as multiple lanes of freeway traffic.



Visual impact:

Leading PRT designs have guideway that are only 1-3 feet tall and 3-6 feet wide, mounted on slender posts which can be as short as allowed by local regulations to permit vehicles to pass under the guideway.  Small PRT vehicles weigh only 450 - 700 Kg, therefore, the elevated rail can be very small and light too unlike 50-tonne LRT trains that require huge, reinforced structures or rail beds.  


Low Cost.

Factory built modular sections of track are light weight and less costly than rail systems. The smaller and lighter PRT guideway is therefore less expensive per mile to build, in terms of the amount of materials needed to fabricate the parts, and in the amount of materials, labor and equipment needed for installation.   River crossing is easier using existing bridges.  By achieving a low cost per mile, it becomes affordable to build enough guideway to reach large parts of a city the size of Edmonton.


Less Land-Use:  

Typical LRT right-of-way is 60 to 200 feet (18 to 66 m) wide, and requires overpasses, tunnels, roadways realignment and new intersections, which drive up costs.  PRT designs have guideway that are only 3-6 feet wide, mounted on slender posts usually spaced every 60 to 100 feet (18 to 30m).  PRT operations will not interfere with street level traffic or require reductions in road lanes or parking.


To make LRT viable it must go in the densest parts of  the city where land acquisition costs are the highest and most protracted.  LRT requires overpasses, tunnels, roadways realignment, utility reconstruction and new intersections, which drive up costs.  Current estimates for land acquisition for LRT right-of-ways in cities average $30 million/km.  Additionally, the long distances to stations and the desire by planners to coerce people to use LRT, large parking lots are built at great expense and offered free to riders.  There large parking lots are a determent to communities as they require greater land use and do not create any economic benefits to the area.


Small Stations: 

Because large numbers of people do not need to show up at the same time to ride PRT, large stations are not required.  Each station only needs an area the size of an elevator lobby of a building compared to 400 feet (120 m) for a LRT station.  Where buses and LRT trains arrive a few times per hour, PRT vehicles wait for you much like building elevators.  Stations are typically spaced every 200-400 meters and can be at ground level, in existing buildings or elevated stations.   In the image below, there is one station on either side of the street.



Avoided Costs:

In context of project financing, the capital and expense that would have to be spent if a project did not proceed.  Comparing the building of PRT instead of LRT, PRT avoids purchasing large tracts of right-of-ways, rerouting utilities, building large parking garages, underpasses and overpasses, etc.  For example, a 500 car parking garage can add over $20M to the cost of a single LRT station.


Transportation planners like designing roads and public transit on the basis of peak volumes.  This allows them to over engineer systems based upon a few hours per day, usually on weekdays, usually at peak seasons.  At all other times we a saddled with excessive capacity which increases capital costs and is very wasteful of manpower during off peak times.  One cause of this is that non-automated forms of transit by necessity, require drivers to be paid for a block of time usually 4 to 8 hours.  This is often several times the required period that they are needed to service the peak period.


Other avoided costs to the tax payer includes not having to purchase a second vehicle, avoiding purchase price, maintenance, insurance, etc.




















































































Travel Times:

The greatest negative aspect of conventional public transit is the waiting times, trip speed is often measured stop-to-stop rather than door-to-door.  Statistics Canada reports that users of public transit have an average of 41 extra minutes commuting time than their automobile counterparts.  In automobile trips, door-to-door should also include time to warm up the car in winter and/or finding parking.



The chart below is from the West High Speed Transit (HST) Study that demonstrate what the administration believes the improvement in commute times will be based upon the level of investment.


This chart suggests that a $1 billion investment in LRT will match the travel time of automobile and halve the travel time of buses. 


Two issues, the first is that the estimated cost in 2003 is now probably $2 billion and secondly the benchmark times are not comparable.   The problem is that the automobile is from your house to your work.  Buses are from the local stop to your work as well not including some additional times.  The study does not include a two or three minute walk to the stop, waiting time and the walk to your work.  Understanding that these times are variable depending how far the bus stop is from your house and work, sometimes the walk may be shorter than the automobile if you must park your car some distance from work.  These numbers are a minor issue compared to the error in LRT times.


As stated before, the West HST study suggests only 3 stations (Meadowlark Mall, WEM and Lewis Estates) in the entire West End for the next 30 years.   Therefore the LRT time of 26 minutes suggested in the report are from West Edmonton Mall to downtown.  The missing time is the typical commuter does not live in West Edmonton Mall but comes from somewhere else.


In the modified chart below demonstrates these additional times.  The walk time to a bus stop the waiting time (pink), the transit time to the LRT station (salmon, average 9 minutes), and the wait for the scheduled LRT train (red) are not included.  Once downtown, it is more likely that the current LRT station is more distant from the bus commuters work and therefore a longer walk or even another transfer wait (light blue) and bus ride (dark blue) is required to get to the destination.  After a huge investment, commute times will be longer than an automobile, up to double.  This is true for the existing  Northeast LRT route as I can beat the door-to-door time of any LRT user during rush hour with my car.  Although promising on paper, transit systems are hampered by low density neighbourhoods, circuitous routes in newly developed suburbs, stagnant ridership and an almost unbeatable opponent, the automobile.  Not to despair, there are transit systems available that are more convenient than a private automobile at less cost than LRT.










don’t wait

just go!

Edmontonians for PRT

Email: info@edmontonprt.com