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Letter: Invest in new options to transport travelers

Invest in new options to transport travelers

Why do we want to spend a billion or so dollars on 19th century-designed trains? Decades ago, more versatile cars replaced them. Mass transit has devolved mostly, with high subsidy, to carry non-drivers.

Let’s look ahead instead. The costs for Uber, a cellphone call-up car provider of personal, direct-to-destination service, are similar to the operating costs for adding mass transit. It is approaching $2 per passenger-mile, and without having to build rail lines through developed areas or take buses at transfer points.

Personal rapid transit (PRT) – efficient, automated four- to six-seat pods operating on narrow guideways safely away from heavy traffic – is gaining interest. Push a destination button, and a single vehicle takes you there. Some pods have local street capability.

There is a revolution underway extending on-demand personal transportation options to all travelers. Let’s join what can become a favorable U.S. product, instead of investing in the obsolete start-stop-transfer-to-another-vehicle service that mass transit provides.

Walt Brewer