Podcars (Personal Rapid Transportation) are being deployed at some Airports and city centers The podcar system at Heathrow is 40% cheaper to operate than the bus system that was replaced.
Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), also called Podcar, is an innovative and sustainable transportation concept, which works emission-free with fully-automated and driverless vehicles on a network of specially-built, elevated guideways.
PRT is on-demand and point-to-point. Passengers travel non-stop on the shortest way from their chosen start to the destination point. Like in a horizontal elevator the vehicle (podcar) arrives when a button is pressed. Intermediate stations, running on seperate tracks parallel to the main track, are intelligently bypassed via switching control systems. PRT can offer faster end-to-end journey times than other forms of transit, depending on running speed and the nature of the network. The matrix or looped layout structure of the network allows for more passenger convenient transit. Intelligently designed PRT can complement conventional mass transit in the form of feeder-networks.
PRT has a small spatial footprint, which means that areas below could be re-greened. Parts of the guideway can also be attached to or integrated into buildings, for example into airports, shopping malls or business complexes.
The highest profile project connects the new Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport to parking areas. The 21-car system, which is complete but still being tested, covers 2.4 miles with the capacity to move about a 1,000 people a day, said Steve Raney, a principal at ULTra PRT , the firm that built the pod cars for Heathrow.
BAA Ltd., which operates the airport, estimates a cost savings of 40 percent over existing bus service. If the system performs as expected, BAA hopes to expand it beyond the airport grounds to connect with surrounding hotels.