Santa Cruz, Ithaca, Sweden Consider Pod-Car Transport Systems

The lack of cars and soothing rhythm of the passing pods sure looks good.

Sweden has already built a pod car pilot on an old football field on the outskirts of the university town of Uppsala, while in West Virginia a small pod-like transport system has been shuttling students back and forth for many years. Now on both sides of the U.S. in Ithaca, New York, and Santa Cruz, California, advocates are working hard to convince city officials that pod cars are the way to go.

Pod car systems cost a fraction of what light rail does
The main advantages to a pod car set-up versus light rail is that pod cars can mimic some of the personal freedom characteristics that have made automobiles so entrenched in our cultural life: you can be alone in the pod with your thoughts, and it's a 24x7 system (in theory) adding a bit more flexibility than traditional light rail. Running on above-street rails, it can leave more city space free for greening. The Institute for Sustainable Transportation in Sweden says pod cars can be cheaper than major road widening projects. Are those features worth the large per-mile costs?

So far, no city has jumped in with the bucks needed - an estimated $25 to $40 million per mile versus light rail's $100 to $300 million per mile, according to an AP story. But Santa Cruz has gone as far as hiring a contractor to design a solar-powered pod car system, and in Itaca the city's mayor has said a pod car infrastructure could be part of a sustainable long term transport solution. Ten Swedish cities are said to be considering pod infrastructures, with Uppsala starting with a track from the old city center out to an IKEA and shopping mall. Can flat packs fit in the pods, we wonder?

Heathrow is building what it is calling a pod car system to shuttle travelers around the airport. But what seems to be needed is for one or more cities - probably ones that hasn't yet made the investment in light rail - to embrace a pod-car structure and show us all how lovely it might be traveling above the city streets in our very own sound-proofed pods. Via: Associated Press and KOMPASS
Read more reflections on pod cars in TreeHugger:
The Podcars are Coming
Can PRT, or Podcars, Replace the Automobile?
Personal Rapid Transit "a Cyberspace Techno-Dream"
Avoid Interaction With Other Humans in New Train Design
Want More Transportation Basics? From Planet Green
Are Subways Eco-Friendly?
5 Ways to Green Your Trip Preparation
Commute to Work by Bike

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