Personal Rapid Transit systems have been built around the world since the early 1960’s. In their essence they are designed to solve complex local transportation problems. Many PRT’s system designs exist, and differ in all major subsystems including car designs, rails structures and drive systems. A successful design brings many advantages on the aspects of environment, safety and contribution to local economy.
In my last visit to London I’ve had the opportunity to ride Heathrow’s PRT system. The system brings passengers from the airport’s terminal 5 to a business parking. Built by British “Ultra”, The system comprises of 22 battery powered cars, driving on 3.8 km of elevated guideways.
On December 2012 the 500,000 passenger rode the system in just 18 month of operation and it is considered to be a great successes by both Ultra and the airport’s operator.
The riding experience is very good, and I’ve enjoyed enormously the automated driverless feel. I didn’t wait at all ,and could enjoy several rides sitting by myself in the car. The cars external and interior designs are settle and comfortable, the stations are well designed and are easy to understand and use, however the track structure lacks the futuristic edge such system deserves.