The Big Idea Behind EcoPRT


EcoPRT represents a new and revolutionary way to think about transportation in urban and suburban environments. EcoPRT starts with a foundation that includes all of the advantages of a normal PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) system and then adds two important additional factors.

EcoPRT at North Hills Mall

EcoPRT concept at North Hills Mall

To understand the advantages of a typical PRT system, think about a normal “transit system” that you would typically find in an urban setting. Examples include bus and subway systems found in America’s larger cities. These systems are characterized by large vehicles capable of holding dozens or hundreds of people and a periodic schedule. So a subway train in New York City holds hundreds of people and a train might arrive at a station every 20 to 30 minutes. These vehicles typically make frequent stops (often at every station on a subway line), reducing the average velocity significantly. Stations are often miles apart to try to offset the cost of the (large) stations and the velocity reduction and passenger annoyance caused by too-frequent stops.

A PRT system reduces car size significantly and then eliminates intermediate stops. A passenger riding a PRT system walks to the departure station, boards a waiting vehicle immediately and then travels non-stop to the destination station. Because of the small vehicle size in a PRT system, stations can be smaller and more closely spaced.

The Big Idea behind EcoPRT is to take the PRT concept two steps further:

  1. First, the EcoPrt ethos is to shrink and lighten both vehicles and guideway as much as possible, both to save space and to eliminate unneeded costs.
  2. These reductions yield 2-person EcoPRT vehicles that weigh less than 1,000 pounds and cost approximately $10,000 each, along with guideway that costs approximately $1 million per mile installed.

The cost of EcoPRT guideway is the revolutionary aspect. Subway track that is buried underground costs over $100 million per mile. Light rail track costs are north of $50 million per mile. Existing PRT concepts have guideway costs in the $10 million per mile range. The problem with all of these costs is that they are not financially viable without significant taxpayer subsidies.

At $1 million per mile, it is economically possible to justify an ecoPRT system as a circulator in places like shopping centers, university campuses, airports and business parks. For example, it costs less to operate an EcoPRT system than an equivalent bus system, and EcoPRT is far more convenient for passengers. In Urban and Suburban settings, EcoPRT systems can either be subsidized (as are all municipal bus systems) or operate in a privately funded mode with a for-profit model. EcoPRT systems are so inexpensive compared to the alternatives that the system can operate at an average cost per mile traveled that is lower per mile than automobiles.

It costs significantly less to install an EcoPRT system than any other system on the market. In addition, EcoPRT has a tiny footprint compared to other systems, installs quickly and, because of the low cost, can be moved and repositioned if necessary.

Learn more: Eight Advantages of EcoPRT