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Personal Magnetic Transport for a Green Future

skytranIt's a lesson we learned from the internet: Small packets on dedicated lines can move extremely fast from one place to another. All SkyTran wants to do is turn data packets into human transport packets, and suddenly they've solved the dilemma of modern transportation. At least, they think they have.

The California company might seem to be a bit off their rocker, but they've crunched the numbers, and it's actually a pretty innovative system that could actually work.

Basically, two-passenger cars would be suspended from beams roughly the size of a traffic light pole. The cars would be levitated by passive magnets, so they would have no moving parts. Energy for moving would be in the track, so the cars themselves would need no power source or engine, thus keeping the weight (even with two passengers) under 1000 lbs. All of only best offers purchase viagra online that frictionless, low-weight technology means very little energy is needed to get these cars moving, and SkyTran estimates that the buy levitra from china cars would get the equivalent of 200 MPG in the city, though, of course, they'd be powered by electricity not gasoline.

The system would have two paralell tracks, one travelling in each direction. Underneath each track would be a suspended station, where cars would merge out of the system and it's cool buy pfizer levitra slow to samples viagra cialis let passengers on and off. Cars would then be brought back up to speed to move onto the upper track for full-speed travel.

I can see a few flaws here that have not been discussed previously. First, the one-way nature of most suburban traffic (toward cities in the morning, away from them in the evening) means that cars would always be needed and would have to travel empty back from the city to pick up more commuters in the morning. I have no idea what resulting wait times and inefficiencies would be, but it's not ideal.

This is, however, inarguably better than cars and mass transit. You get your own vehicle with no waiting at bus stops. But you also don't have to pay attention to driving, you can travel faster, and I would assume it would also be safer. The footprint is much smaller than a roads or rail and because it's suspended, it would be easy to integrate the system with pedestrian, road and rail traffic.

The question is, how much does it cost. Skytran says the system should be about $10 M per mile, which is about 1/4th the cost of light rail and 1/5th the cost of interstate highways. It might not be cheaper to implement that bus systems, but it would certainly be utilized a lot more, and could, with a small per-mile fee, be a heck of a lot more profitable than any other system. And since, of course, you might just be able to sell your car (not to mention your parking space) you could probably spend quite a lot on this system without concern for cost.

It's not the generic levitra online first of these systems we've heard about, there's also SkyTram (yes...that's different from SkyTran) and none of these systems have ever gotten the kind of initial interest and capital needed to really make it work. Will it be possible this time?

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Comments (18)Add Comment
I wonder...
written by Bob Wallace, August 10, 2009
Two passenger large enough? How about families?

Might the cost per car be low enough that it would be less expensive to "park" cars for the day/night rather than shuffle them around empty. After all, that's what we do with our current expensive cars.
written by Ava, August 10, 2009
This seems like a great system, but if it were to eventually take over instead of cars/alternative transportation, what would we do with old cars, buses, roads, and every other waste we've used in transportation? Not all of it could be recyclable.
Concerned citizen
written by smartalec44, August 10, 2009
This is asinine. We are a country of personal transportation from our house to our destination.How are we going to run errands like grocery shopping. And how are we going to go from our home to this monstrosity and back to our home.
Develop cheap all-electric personal vehicles. Or use that solid state free energy device on our vehicles that is being kept from us by the NWO & shadow government.
written by Bob Wallace, August 10, 2009
Well, first, it won't. It's never going to get 'out to the boonies' where lots of people live. It won't even get deep into the burbs, just to hubs where one will switch from their personal vehicle as they do now with light rail, BART, etc.

This is a 'get you into/out of the city' and 'between close cities' mode of transportation.

Second, were it somehow to get built to cover most destinations it would take a long, long time. During the cialis with mastercard buildup we would simply scrap cars as we do now, just not replace all of them.

Right now US scrappage rate is about 5%. We essentially turn over our fleet of buy levitra in india cars in 20 years or so. (Sure, there are some older than 20s, but there are less than 20s that get totaled.)

And a lot of vehicles is recycled. Oil pans and gas tanks are drained, batteries are about 90% recyclable, tires get shredded for other use, metal gets shredded and sorted for reuse. The stuff that goes to the landfill are cardboard, fabric, dirt, ....
written by Timsbro2000, August 11, 2009
Unless the stations are ridiculously huge and complicated I see no way that people could efficiently get in and out of the cars without causing backups to rival or even beat those of modern traffic jams. Sure it would be more carbon efficient than an idling motor vehicle but it would have to be much slower. And the single file nature of the tracks themselves just doesn't have the carrying capacity that would be needed for rush hour traffic.
written by Bob Wallace, August 11, 2009
efficiently get in and out

Side tracks. Stop and load/unload multiple pods at a time. Busy stations could have multiple "platforms".

much slower

It's designed to be quite fast. The system could offer speedy movement between cities too close to hook by rapid rail.

single file nature of the tracks themselves just doesn't have the carrying capacity

The pods can be run very close together.

Add the lack of space between them and their shorter length and you can pack a lot more units per length of track.

Some high volume places, major commute routes, might require multiple parallel tracks.
Can it be a bus replacement?
written by BruceMcF, August 11, 2009
The question for these kind of systems is never so much "will they work if every adopts them", but "how do they get started".

So the question is, can they work as a bus replacement. Someplace .... heck, it could be in the outer suburbs, we have buses too, you know ... builds the track to replace the main hourly bus. Its massively faster than the viagra generic usa bus, since people only stop for their own stop, so more upscale people use it. There's demand for more routes. "Convenient to Skybus" becomes a real estate selling point. Industrial estates and office parks lobby to have a line running through, malls issue dire threats that they will close down if they don't get a line. Anyone who can bike to the line can get most anywhere someone needs to go. And etcetera ...

... just like the roll-out of electric trolley lines a hundred years ago, or paved highways seventy years ago, the trick is not how it works when everyone does it ... the trick is how it gets built out.

Driving drops down enough so some parking can be swapped for useful space - housing, commercial, industrial, whatever. More
written by Chris, August 11, 2009
Isn't this a glossy update of failed monorail systems of the 60's? Why didn't those systems take hold then and how much does this 'new' idea really change things? The personal transport factor is nice, but they have a lot of work to do to sell this to entire cities/counties/states to make it remotely feasible. I'm glad there are people coming up with new ideas and solutions for our transportation needs, but I don't see this startup going anywhere.
written by Bob Wallace, August 11, 2009
Well, gas in the '60s cost what? $0.28 per gallon in the early part of the decade. And even the biggest doom sayers were talking about oil was going to last another 20 years or more.

Then how crowded were our cities back then? As I recall you could even drive and park in New York City.

How concerned were we about global climate change? We were more concerned about guys letting their hair grow long.

And how feasible would the '60s version of these things be? No computers to route your individual pod from where you want to start to where you want to go. More like an amusement park ride, get on and wait your turn.

And don't forget, lots of cities have installed 'people movers'. Sacramento has light rail, San Francisco has BART. This is cheaper and easier to install for cities that have a need to fill. And many do.

written by Scott, August 11, 2009
Well, gas in the '60s cost what? $0.28 per gallon in the early part of the decade.

28 cents in 1960 money is about the same as $2 in 2008 money, according to

The cost of gas will certainly go up rapidly as we slide down the far slope of peak oil, but it's still not expensive enough to mandate large scale change in economic terms.

I agree with the rest of your post.
Many birds, one stone
written by Matt, August 11, 2009
One of the key objections to public transport that commuters tend to cite, and why, as a consequence they are reluctant to leave their cars, is the fact of having to share the experience with the public at large... an issue of personal space you may say. This idea goes some way to addressing that point, particularly as it follows that in major cities where this would be an option, those using it are frequently more high earning, affluent business people who are not willing to sacrifice comfort and a sense of personal security when travelling, even at the expense of any environmental benefit.

Of this type of public system there are no obvious precedents, and so of course the ideas are experimental, and should not be judged in comparison with existing train lines etc. But on it's own merit.

This could have a particular appeal here in England, and in other european cities where history has bequethed us narrow roads and only tight spaces to work with. And since nobody realy likes subterranean systems, getting above the city is even more appealling... with the added benefit of perhaps freeing up those existing underground train lines for the exclusive use of industry and retail delivery, taking many commercial vehicles off the roads, making such deliveries more secure ( and so possibly reducing insurance premiums), cutting business costs in this area, further reducing emmissions, and making a city a more pleasant place to live and work.

So even if the ideas are not yet fully formed, they should nevertheless be encouraged and supported, and not simply dismissed out of hand.
Chevy Volt may be better ... details later today
written by Hador_NYC, August 11, 2009
The rumor mill is that Chevy's $40,000 Volt will get 230 MPG. That beats the fast cialis without a prescription 200 MPG that this is quoting, and a ton easier to get from home to work.
written by Andrew, August 11, 2009
I am an unrepentant city slicker and have always embraced public transit (even those subterranean systems everyone apparently hates). Owning and driving is a huge hassle if you live anywhere vaguely dense. You can bike faster than you can drive or take transit in cities...

The pros and buy cheapest cialis cons of this thing have been worked over quite well in this discussion, and while to my eyes there are a lot more pros than there are cons, cost and political will are likely to be the only aspects that actually matter. And regardless of follow link how to buy viagra whether its overhead and operation costs are less than an equivalent public system, and likely dramatically less than the externalities imposed by personal car ownership, it's not likely to get picked up, simply because it's never been done before.

I see no immediately apparent gamestopping technical hurdles, though, which is rare and impressive for crazy concept designs like this.

And Hador, that "230" promo for the Volt is almost definitely not its MPG equivalent.
written by Flahooler, August 11, 2009
It's a nice idea, if you were starting from scratch. However, we're not doing that. The problem with any such revolutionary system (hydrogen, electric vehicles, etc.) is that it seeks to displace a huge existing infrastructure which must be maintained for years, if not decades, while the transition takes place. That means that not only do you incur the sizable expense of developing the new infrastructure, but you must also pay to maintain the existing infrastructure. So, although one mile of the fancy sky tram may cost 1/5th as much as one mile of interstate highway, it will not completely displace the need for the interstate highway. Let's face it ... no matter how good the purchasing viagra system is, there are some things that you just won't be able to use it for. Ultimately, then, it is a cost adder and not a cost savings.

As far as there being no show-stopping technical hurdles, I don't think that's a true statement. Although technically possible, mag-lev trains are not without their share of problems. Migrating the technology to a smaller scale and replicating it thousands of times does not eliminate those issues, it only multiplies them. What happens in the event of a power loss? How do you keep the guide rails free of debris in cold or dusty climates, considering the low fly-height over the rails? What happens when these pods start to sway in the high winds of Chicago while suspended 30 feet above the ground? I like the concept, but I have to say that mag-lev is a bit of very good site cheap levitra a technical and financial stretch.
written by Bob Wallace, August 11, 2009
Flahooler - I don't see it as a replacement technology, even though some do. I suspect most of those who see something like this as replacing cars live in densely populated cities, ride bikes or buses, and don't have young children or older adults to transport.

As an adjunct transportation mode the math can work.

We're going ahead with rapid rail from SF to LA/San D because when the numbers were worked building rapid rail was found to be less expensive than increasing our freeway and female levitra airport capacity.

Some places where things are really jambed up it's going to be cheaper to install some support poles along the how you get pfizer viagra existing streets than to widen the streets.

(I don't think the proponents of these systems have adequately considered the aesthetic hurdles. I wonder how many owners of striking buildings are going to resist.)

written by Hans, August 11, 2009
There are lots of versions of this idea, including our own, that do not attempt to use maglev. We don't go so fast as SkyTran, but we have a bigger, more usable vehicle. The point about bus replacement is on target. our installation costs are a little higher than bus but operating costs are way lower: for a cost to the consumer and taxpayer about comparable--for a service that's far faster, has no waiting and is easily and fairly automatically scalable. Except for the software, there's nothing about this our system that's at all new. Wheels, electrical contacts, motors, etc.

The person who claims we'll never get out to the boonies may be right, but we should be able to serve areas with fare density as low as $5/acre/day, which is a fairly sparse suburb.

note also that our structure (and that of several of our competitors, but not skytran) can support freight palettes too, which opens whole new world of enter site rx generic viagra customers. Frieght and passenger stations are different, but the computer can keep it all straight easily.
not really like a data packet network
written by Nicola, August 13, 2009
I love this idea and I really hope it takes off but I have some concerns about bandwidth. The reason the internet works so well is partly because traffic is usually low compared to bandwidth - and when it isn't people don't scream. Also, there is no infrastructure for packet holders - so there is no cost in being able to send a packet.

With this car model, in order to travel you have to have a car so you either have to have one waiting (with associated cost) or you have to wait for one to arrive. If empty cars are continually circulating looking for a passenger, that is also a significant cost. You are going to need some pretty fancy heuristics to get good service at different times of the day and it is not going to work well all the time - and if people have to wait they are not going to be happy. If it is fast 95% of the time - will that be good enough?
written by Bob Wallace, August 13, 2009
With the versions that I've seen the cost per car is pretty low. Tin box with an electric motor. Much cheaper than the Toyota taxi with driver waiting for a fare.

With 'just in time' planning the cheapest online cialis operators should know where needs are going to be and cialis pfizer canada then move units to that location. There might need to be some "parking" system for storage of extra units which will soon be needed. I can see a lot of units that go into town in the morning and wait until the work day is over. Cheaper to build and cheaper to park.

Then there would likely be an ability to reserve a car via cell phone if desired. Might cost a few cents more, but you could be assured that you get on board quickly.

I'd be happy if I got a unit in ten minutes or less. One of the places where I take the bus in SF I can wait an hour for a scheduled bus.

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