The use of the automobile in densely
– populated cities, has had increased negative perception, particularly among commuters who do not have access to private
vehicles. Meanwhile, the current modes of urban public transport are still behind private vehicles since many commuters have
to experience more waiting and transferring time. To combine the advantages of public transport and private vehicles, there
are some concepts or suggestions below.
In most cities, the number of empty seats in most downtown – bound cars that each has only one person inside,
in fact, can carry roughly the number of commuters who use public transport. Wilfred Owen of the Brookings Institute (U.S.)
suggested that carpooling or ridesharing, the once – popular mode of transport, should be re – introduced again.
In carpooling, each car should have multiple passengers, meaning that it can carry other passenger – strangers from
public transport terminals. In this way, those passengers – strangers can save up to 30 minutes, particularly if cars
have to go through toll gates. The passengers are provided door – to – door service with shorter wait and no transfer.
However, research has shown that most carpoolers feel more secure having passengers from within his or her neighborhood.
The passengers can use the telephone calling a multi – modal transport help line, with aid of a computer system searching
neighbors going to common destinations at a certain time and willing to share empty seats for a fee.
Personal Rapid Transit
Another mode that also uses private vehicles is called Personal Rapid Transit. This relatively new concept is a transport
system consisting of vehicles, carrying from just one individual up to 100 people, which run along a guideway, on which its
initial investment cost is determined by the size and weight of the vehicle running along it. The larger the vehicle, the
less economical their point – to – point routing is. All PRT vehicles are powered by electricity transmitted via
line side conductors along a guideway that can contain beams similar to those applied on monorail guideways. The vehicles
stop at stations that should have berths for stationary vehicles waiting for passengers, minimalist design, and elevators
if the stations are elevated.
Only a few cities in the world have started to build the PRT vehicles, or commonly called people – movers, and
infrastructure. An example is the driverless capsules to be operated within London’s Heathrow Airport
and the one planned for operations at the Dubai International Financial Center,
both in 2008. Another PRT that is currently under development is a dual – mode system called PRISM conducted by Ford
Research, which the vehicles can be privately owned and run along the guideways.
The vehicles and infrastructure required for most PRT bring questions regarding the initial capital investment, production
and operational costs, as well as public perception, since up to 2006 none has been completed yet. One issue is that each
vehicle can carry only one individual, and therefore, a certain distance or headway must be kept between vehicles. Centralized
computer – control is regarded as being safer than drivers, and hence, it can maintain consistent headway. At the moment,
many government regulations allow a minimum of two - second headway. But, there is some kind of a trade – off between
more headway and the number of vehicles and passengers in a given length of the guideway. A shorter headway can obviously
accommodate more vehicles in a given guideway length, but is generally less safe if the vehicles travel at higher speeds.
Another issue that needs more government support is ridesharing since, as discussed before, the owners of the vehicles
generally feel less secure with strangers inside their vehicles. However, any
vehicle, whether it is privately or publicly owned, is more economical with more passengers inside it.