Among the complaints that many Americans have about mass transit systems is that they don't go where people need to be and they don't like to be packed in with crowds on buses and trains. People like to have their personal space and a ride across town in a bus can also a long time because of all the stops. Enter the Podcar, a personal rapid transit system that uses small, autonomously-guided vehicles with a capacity of up to 10 people. Rather than running on a fix route network, the podcars would be able to travel point to point after the passengers enter a destination. Of course, the available points would still be limited to the rail network, but in theory, the cars would go non-stop. Demonstration systems are currently being run in various cities around the world including Upsalla, Sweden and a new system is set to go on-line at London's Heathrow airport next year. Hopefully that will function better than the baggage handling system at the new terminal that opened this year. Ithaca, New York, home of Cornell University and Ithica College wants to build the first large scale system of this type in the U.S. while Santa Cruz wants to build a smaller, solar-powered network. Perhaps the biggest problem with any of this is the cost. In the current economic environment, raising funding for any sort of large project will prove extremely problematic, a situation that may remain for many more years.

[Source: Detroit News]

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