Friday, September 30, 2016

Judy Arnold's idea for "Sustainabile" Travel in 2009.

County of Marin hired a consultant to study these Unimodal Levitating trains in 2009

Editor's note: Someone should tell Ms. Arnold that we already have individualized transit that doesn't require billions in infrastructure. They are called "cars".  A hybrid getting 51 mpg like the Prius leaves a far smaller "carbon footprint" than this idea.

From Marin IJ:  Supervisors Revive Monorail Idea by Nels Johnson

Although the prospect of commuters rocketing over Marin in space-age pods may be a little out there, county officials are interested in a high-speed monorail transit system.
Marin County supervisors said a pilot project could bring SkyTran, a futuristic high-speed monorail still under development, to Marin as a key public transit link complementing the SMART rail project approved by voters last year.

The program, boosted by Supervisors Judy Arnold and Charles McGlashan, could connect the Civic Center with the SMART rail system, or be set up at other sites.

The project "could be a first step to a countywide system enhancing bus and ferry service, as well as the SMART rail system," Arnold and McGlashan said in a letter to colleagues. Last year, Arnold boosted the SkyTran program as an alternative to SMART.

The electric SkyTran system involves two- or three-person "pods" capable of traveling non-stop at 150 mph between cities. The vehicles do not have drivers, but use computers, sensors and radar collision systems to navigate. Unimodal Transport Solutions of Westlake Village, a firm founded in 2003 to develop the transit system, says it is 10 times less expensive than light rail.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a "letter of interest" to Unimodal that can be used to attract private financing for a project in Marin. Santa Cruz and San Jose have each requested a formal plan from Unimodal for larger-scale projects.
"We recognize that this is only a first step in this process and that many discussions and public meetings will need to follow to determine the feasibility of this project, to identify a location for the pilot, and to analyze environmental impacts," Arnold and McGlashan said.

The two supervisors said Marin is in a good position to win state transit grants to help finance the project. Both state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, support the move.
"In the past year SkyTran has progressed from the design phase into building and testing physical prototypes, and has also identified partners for project management and private financing," Arnold reported. "Pods are being produced in Southern California for assembly at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View and a financing partner, IERS, is interested in funding a demonstration project that is up and running as soon as possible."
The board dispatched a letter to Unimodal, saying the county could provide right-of-way for a pilot project, help obtain permits and open the door for state grants.

A Marin project would "provide connectivity with existing and future transit to demonstrate the efficacy and convenience of this innovative technology," the county letter to Unimodal says, adding the system "would eventually integrate more comprehensively with other transit options countywide to serve commercial, retail, residential, government and entertainment centers."

Christopher Perkins, CEO of Unimodal, on Wednesday applauded the move, saying, "Marin County's leadership in bringing green transportation solutions to the region is a key to future economic prosperity and quality of life."

Perkins said that although Unimodal's vehicles can zip along at high speeds, "our technology would be deployed appropriately in Marin County, moving at the speed you would expect cars to travel."

Fares of 15 to 25 cents per mile would cover costs of the firm's "personal rapid transit system that has high speed, low cost and low maintenance characteristics," he said, adding the first pod will be assembled in March.

"By doing this on county property we can put in a showcase," Perkins said of a Marin project.

County supervisors traded quips as they unanimously dispatched a letter of interest to Perkins.

"I think it's great you have cast yourselves along with the Jetsons," Supervisor Steve Kinsey told colleagues Arnold and McGlashan.

"Is this one of the times I can't roll my eyes?" asked Supervisor Hal Brown.

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