HPT

 

2.0 BACKGROUND

2.1Early Development of Cars and Trucks:

A century ago, years ago the first cars and trucks carried occupants and goods along unimproved dirt roads. As cars and trucks evolved, so did roads. First were stone roads, brick roads in urban areas, and finally asphalt and concrete roads of the types now in use. From the one lane roads of the early 1900's, roadways developed into highways and superhighways as more cars were produced which were capable of reaching higher speeds. Skeptical at first, people soon traded their horses for automobiles.

2.2.Eisenhower Interstate Highway System:

In 1956, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, also known as the National Interstate and Defense Highway Act which created a funding mechanism for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Interstate Highway System (Interstate System) and in September, 1956, Kansas became the first state in the nation to start construction of an Interstate Highway. Approximately fifty-thousand (50,000) miles of the Interstate System have since been completed and the Interstate System continues to be the largest public works project in history. Designed to be bi-directional for normal use, the Interstate System is capable of one-directional flow in the event of mass evacuation or military necessity. While the Federal Government owns some of the ground underlying the Interstate System, states and local municipalities own the vast majority through funding received from Federal grants. Interstate System speed limits range from fifty-five (55) to eighty (80) mph.

2.3“PRT” - Personal Rapid Transit:

In 1970, the first continuing, large scale, personal rapid transit system (PRT), was designed and implemented through a partnership between the U.S. Government, the City of Morgantown, WV and West Virginia University. The Boeing Vertol Company, Bendix Corporation and the Jet Propulsion Lab led the initial construction consortium. Today, the system (WVUPRT) is capable of moving as many as 31,000 persons per day to, and from, various campus locations and downtown Morgantown, West Virginia. Average daily use is 16,000 passengers per day. A standard WVU PRT car seats 8 with standing room for 6 more and travels at a speed of 45 mph or less Between 5 stations. While named a PRT system, the WVUPRT is actually an elevated specialty transit system or ESTS. The WVUPRT system was constructed at a cost of approximately $37 Million per mile.

2.4Specialty Systems:

About the same time, other elevated specialty rail systems were implemented in such places as Disney World in Orlando, Florida followed by systems in the downtown Miami, Florida business district and several other cities around the world. While suitable for their limited purposes, none of the current systems have developed a mechanical commonality, and none have the ability to move people outside the confines of their limited system loops.

2.5Intelligent Highway:

In the late 1980s, funded by a U.S. Department of Transportation grant, a system for operating standard vehicles on common roadways incorporating an embedded guide wire together with computerized steering, braking and speed controls (known as the "Intelligent Highway System") was developed through a joint effort by automakers and universities. Although several vehicles were driven long distances using only the Intelligent Highway System software and attachments, the System stalled for a variety of reasons and was not implemented. Wide scale adaptation of the Intelligent Highway System appears unlikely due to reasons which are discussed further in Section10.8 (Debris Field).

2.6No New Implementations:

There has been no major design or implementation of new surface transportation technologies since 1956, and no major, wide scale, advance in PRT since 1975. At this time, there is no widely adaptable, viable, dual mode personal surface transportation system under meaningful consideration by the U.S. Department of Transportation.