Means for Democracy (Tools for Better Self-Governance)

Building an Environmentally Sustainable, Spiritually Fulfilling, and Socially Just Community.
What is ATN/PRT? ATN/PRT videos Milpitas BART Loop BART Burrow vs. PRT network How can I help?

BART Burrow alternatives
- PRT corridor
- ATN/PRT network

What if we could reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, improve health, and save money? With smart, appropriate transit that blends well with pedestrians and cyclists, we can!

Neary twice as many Californias die from traffic pollution as from motor vehicle accidents. By converting to electric vehicles, we can reduce the pollutants that cause asthma, cancer and other health problems. By automating those vehicles and putting them on their own elevated guideway, we can reduce congestion and save money.

Traditional big-vehicle mass transit running in narrow corridors (like BART) does not serve well the majority of Silicon Valley residents. Simply put, San Jose does not have the housing density to support traditional transit.

"Without high patronage, new rail investments incur large deficits and fail to deliver promised environmental and social benefits. A system with few passengers and a high price tag is, by most accounting, a poor investment economically, environmentally, and socially. ... Without density, high-capacity transit [like BART and LRT] tends to attract too few trips to offset the high price tag. ... [For example, because] of its low ridership, San Jose light rail has among the highest costs per passenger-mile despite low investment costs per route-mile. ... " (Transit and the "D" Word.)
Attaining the required level of housing density for cost-effective mass transit is impractical. However, attaining the required level of transit demand for cost-effective personal transit is possible.

Instead of Mass Transit, what we need is Smart Transit. Automated Transit Network (ATN) is an umbrella term that includes Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) and offers clean, quiet, responsive public transit with automated, non-stop service available 24 hours a day. In addition to these service benefits, PRT costs far less to build and operate than other public transit options. ATNs are scalable from the smallest possible 2-station loop that bridges a barrier (creek, railroad tracks or freeway), through a small campus network or feeder to a BART transit hub, up to a network that covers many square miles and connects hundreds of stations.

A quick introduction to the technology is this excellent 3-minute video that shows PRT at the Microsoft campus.

In Milpitas, a PRT crossing of Montague Expressway will cost less than a standard steel-and-concrete pedestrian over-crossings (POC) - and provide a low-risk opportunity to test the technology. Success could lead to a citywide feeder to the Milpitas BART/LRT/bus transit hub that would dramatically increase local mobility without increasing the negative health effects of conventional automobiles. Community costs for fuel will drop because the electricity needed to propel an electric vehicle is 1/2 to 1/4 the price of gasoline. And more of the money we pay for electricity stays in the local economy, especially as more of us install PV panels on our roofs.

This video from the folks in Santa Cruz, CA, is a good 15-minute introduction that showcases existing PRT technologies and how they might solve that City's traffic problems. At Heathrow Airport, a newly constructed PRT connector between the new terminal 5 and long-term parking has been operational since 2012.

While most transit planners struggle to reduce single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) miles by a few percent, PRT combined with existing transit options and modern technology can reduce SOV rates by 50% according to this study of a business park in Palo Alto, CA.


3-mins. about Milpitas Pilot Project
(from Public Forum at May 20, 2014 Council meeting)

The Advanced Transit Association (ATRA) Wiki is an ongoing effort to catalog and define the world of advanced transit -- the ideas, the achievements and the people behind them. Their 3-minute video outlines "advanced transit".

Please compare benefits and value between transit systems. You'll find that PRT excels for most transit factors.

Comparing PRT with Car, Bus, and Light Rail Transit (LRT)
Comparing benefits and value between transit systems

Here are the leading modern transit initiatives:


"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller


Argument Against VTA's 2016 Sales Tax Measure

Extending BART from the Berryessa station to the Diridon/Caltrain stations is not a worthy project for the 1 in every 4 dollars VTA expects to collect for transportation projects. Furthermore, PRT can adequately connect the stations for only $200M rather than $4700M as required using BART technology. So, Rob Means plans to submit to the County Registrar Of Voters an argument against the measure (below in italics) that he believes is more persuasive than opposition arguments in the past.

Vote against this measure because VTA plans to spend one of every 4 dollars on a boondoggle: the BART connection between Berryessa and Caltrain, sometimes known as the BART Burrow.

The BART Burrow is a boondoggle in two big ways. First, at $800M/mile, BART technology costs 20 times as much as PRT technology to accomplish the same level of service. VTA plans to spend $4700M on the BART Burrow, when just $200M of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) technology would do. Given how noisy and rough BART rides are now, PRT would deliver better service – quieter, smoother, and with 24/7 operation.

The second big reason “boondoggle” is appropriate is over-capacity – BART has 10 times more than needed! Commuter rail like BART can move 50,000 people per hour in just one direction. However, VTA estimates that 55,000 people per day will use both directions of the BART Burrow. Clearly, BART is way over-sized for the demand. Advanced transit like PRT - with a capacity of 3,000 to 5,000 people per hour - is scaled appropriately to the demand along the BART Burrow route.

Perhaps the worst aspect of this boondoggle is opportunity costs – that is, all the better projects we could build with that money. Global warming threatens the human species! We can’t afford to wait - or to waste. Using just 1% of the cost of the BART Burrow, for example, we could build a much-needed PRT loop to feed the Milpitas BART station – and make use of the over-capacity being built there now.

Insist on a better plan! Reject VTA's proposed BART Burrow and the tax they plan to fund it. Vote NO on this measure. (Learn about advanced transit at http://www.advancedtransit.org/library/news/atra-video/ . Learn about replacing the BART Burrow at http://meansfordemocracy.org/transit.html.)





40 years is long enough!
1974 Milpitas Post article on
advanced transit options,
including PRT!
The Natural Resources Defense Council's 2012 survey that shows Americans have a fondness for transit. Here are some of the findings:

Thoughts on transit

  • 58 percent would like to use public transportation more often, but it is not convenient or available from their home or work
  • 64 percent say their community would benefit from an expanded and improved public transportation system, such as rail and buses
  • 68 percent support more local investment in improvements to public transportation (including 63 percent of those who do not use transit), with 39 percent supporting it "strongly"

Thoughts on driving

  • 55 percent prefer to drive less, but 74 percent say they have no choice
  • 56 percent cite a preference to driving as the reason for not taking public transit, 43 percent say that it's because transit stops are too far from home

Thoughts on U.S. transportation infrastructure

  • 59 percent feel the transportation system is "outdated, unreliable and inefficient"
  • 63 percent (more than three in five Americans) would rather address traffic by improving public transportation (42 percent) or developing communities where people do not have to drive as much (21 percent) - as opposed to building new roads, an approach preferred by only one in five Americans (20 percent)
  • 67 percent favor setting new standards for local planning that guide new development into existing cities and or near public transportation
http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/cities/americans-desire-more-transit-options/5248?tag=nl.e662&s_cid=e662 

When combined with public transit, electric bikes can help most anyone get most anywhere.

Vermont to become a hotbed for e-bike industry

The beautiful town of Brattleboro in verdant southern Vermont is looking like a great place for an e-bike technician with entrepreneurial skills and spirit to open shop for retailing e-bikes and retrofitting cargo bikes and standard bikes with e-assist systems. Starting in 2015 the state of Vermont will be launching an exciting program to promote e-bikes and cargobikes. On top of that, Vermont's largest credit union will be offering great low-interest 'green' loans for these bikes! Vermont is the perfect state for "green" thinking and action, and Brattleboro is the right place. Check out http://digital.vpr.net/post/e-bikes-are-catching-hilly-vermont.



Contact Webmaster Rob Means at 408-262-8975, Rob@MeansForDemocracy.org
    1421 Yellowstone Avenue, Milpitas, CA 95035