The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation has published plans to add lanes to Highway 1 at an estimated total cost of $600 million. The first phase of this project includes $97 million in auxiliary lanes. We ask, wouldn’t it make more sense to build a PRT system, connecting Watsonville to Santa Cruz, instead of building highway lanes?
Using a conservative estimate of one podcar every three seconds and 3 people per pod, a PRT system could transport 3600 people per hour in each direction. The 3-second gap (headway) was specified in order to comply with the brick-wall criterion. If this restriction is lifted (which appears likely to occur), the PRT system capacity is likely to increase dramatically.
For comparison, a common rule of thumb indicates that one freeway lane can handle one car every two seconds. If the average car holds 1.2 people, that would transporting 2160 people per hour.
Conclusion: A Personal Rapid Transit system can transport more people than a highway lane.
Convenience[content needed … and mention, with just first two loops, can drive to 41st Ave and hop on PRT, partial system will bring some relief.]
Conclusion: A Personal Rapid Transit system may provide more effective congestion relief than an extra highway lane. And even if the highway remains congested, the PRT system will provide a convenient alternative to being stuck in traffic.
Conclusion: A Personal Rapid Transit system has profound benefits for safety, while highway expansion increases collisions.
Climate Change[content needed]
Conclusion: A Personal Rapid Transit system has benefits for the climate, while highway expansion harms the environment.
For this discussion we assume the cost of a PRT system is $10 million per mile in each direction (that is, $20 million per mile for bidirectional guideway).
The first loop of our proposed Hwy 1 PRT system [name?] is 3.6 miles, so we expect it could be built for about $36 million. This is within the ballpark of the estimated $29 million cost for the first Tier II project.
The second loop is about 8 miles, so we expect it could be built for about $80 million. So the total cost of the first two loops is about $116 million, fitting within the RTC’s estimated $125 million budget for Tier II projects covered by Measure D funds.
The entire proposed PRT system is 41.2 miles, estimated at $412 million, well under the estimated $600 million for the entire Tier I and II highway widening project. [Need to confirm $600m, sure I read it somewhere] [More content needed regarding use EIR process to redirect funds, and other sources of available funds]
Conclusion: The PRT system can likely be funded and built more quickly, and at lower cost, than a highway lane can be added.