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San Jose-to-BART Connection

Alternative 2: BART 'Light' plus PRT

Although PRT is generally designed as a web, the ring-the-bay $1.9B 150-station proposal uses a corridor approach. Here is Alternative 2 from Bob Williams. His diagrams show a PRT web radiating from the end of BART 'Light' at the Capitol Avenue station in Milpitas. Following his two attachments are comments/suggestions from others.

The proposed BART/PRT Alternative for the Silicon Valley Rapid Transit Corridor MIS consists of a seven mile extension of BART from the Warm Springs station to a Milpitas station located at the southeast corner of the Great Mall, plus a 91 mile, 117 station PRT network covering the southern portion of the corridor.

Sketches of the physical layout are provided in attachments 1 [routes] and 2 [stations]. The design philosophy for this alternative contains the following elements:

1. There must be rapid and convenient travel from the BART station to downtown San Jose, the Diridon station, and the San Jose airport. At least four PRT stations with direct access to the BART platform would be constructed. Several routes to each destination would be available, with distances to downtown and Diridon station from six to eight miles, and five to six miles to the airport. With nonstop travel between stations, and assuming a line speed of 30 MPH, travel times would average about fourteen and eleven minutes, respectively. A BART connection with one or two intermediate stations would probably be not much faster to downtown, and would certainly take more time to reach the airport.

2. The system must provide access to the Silicon Valley business community and the residential areas. With 117 stations in both the commercial and residential regions, extensive coverage is well provided. In addition, there are multiple access points to the Light Rail and Caltrain systems. With the nonstop, multiple vehicle PRT capability, no two stations will be more than 30 minutes apart, day or night.

3. Convenient access must be provided from east San Jose to downtown. Seven PRT lines penetrate east of Capitol Avenue in both San Jose and Milpitas, and connect directly to Downtown San Jose. This provides 10 to 20 minute access from anywhere in the area. The system as presently conceived utilizes one-way lines, but any resulting increases in travel times would be only a few minutes. [Editor's Note: Serving well the east San Jose area would address issues of demand, need, and social equity.]

4. The system must be expandable. The BART line can of course be extended at any time. The PRT grid can be expanded indefinitely.

Cost: The seven mile BART extension would be at grade along an existing railroad line, and therefore costs should be minimal. A figure of one billion dollars would probably be conservative. PRT costs have been estimated from various detailed engineering studies, but no system (especially one of this size) has been built. Again, one billion dollars would probably be a conservative estimate. Therefore, total cost of the alternative is estimated to be two billion dollars. A more detailed study would certainly produce a better figure.

Alternative 2: Route Layout

Alternative 2: Station Layout


Comments/Suggestions to Alternative 2

MikerX165@aol.com (Delete the red X)
I would like to also see PRT as an alternative to parking garage construction, in the ongoing downtown study. PRT will boost ridership and negate the need for car parking. Valley Fair to downtown is a natural. Spartan Stadium to downtown also.


Subj: PRT in Milpitas (was: BART-to-SJ MIS)
Date: 6/19/01 12:59:47 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: iXkluft@thunder.sbay.org (Delete the red X)
To: rob.means@electric-bikes.com

[...]
>Because PRT is so modular and cheap, we can wade into it slowly. I say put
>up $50 to develop the technology. Apply it in a simple loop and two station
>configuration, like a connector between Yosemite and Curtis over the railroad
>tracks. Then start expanding northward toward the Warm springs station or,
>if necessary, all the way to the Fremont station. If the system still looks
>robust, expand south from Milpitas.

The starting point between Yosemite and Curtis actually may have a different advantage.

The next step from there could be a loop around the Great Mall with several stations on different sides of the Mall, theaters and parking areas. Also add a transfer connection at the Great Mall light rail station (to be opened in 2004.)

From there, it would have more ridership to support additional extensions. I'm thinking the initial model to get riders on it would be to start as a Milpitas connector between transit and high-volume locations. So connect next from the Great Mall to the Milpitas City Center and the VTA Weller/Main bus transit center. In theory, going to the new City Hall should help get some Milpitas politicians on board with the plan. It would probably find support from businesses there, who saw business drop off a lot after the Great Mall opened.

Next from there across 880 to McCarthy Ranch with several stations along the way. As with the Great Mall, add several stations at different areas in the complex.

By that point, such a system should have ridership. Connections to employers in the area could be prioritized by who wants to kick in enough money to pay for the construction of the extension to them. And companies should be able to pool together the bids for extensions to a cluster of employment sites.

I had some ideas last year about an additional source of revenue which a PRT system could produce in order to help support its own business. Since it's putting elevated structures around Silicon Valley, there's probably an insatiable appetite for fiberoptic cable deployment on the towers. I did some research to compare the cost per mile to build elevated PRT with utility conduits vs the cost per mile of trenching in roadways. At $1-2M per mile for fiber trenching in urban areas, there's an opportunity to share construction costs with fiber customers. Dual ongoing revenue streams could help diversify the business model.

Subj: Re: PRT in Milpitas (was: BART-to-SJ MIS)
Date: 6/20/01 11:31:19 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: iXkluft@thunder.sbay.org (Delete the red X)
To: rob.means@electric-bikes.com

I think the fiberoptics idea would be most useful if PRT is forced to be built as a private venture. I think there's a chance that's how it would have to be done, considering the way I saw VTA ignore you at the BART-SJ MIS meeting.

But there are examples of local governments using or neglecting fiber services. VTA already has significant fiberoptic bandwidth along its LRT lines. Most railroads do, since they need some bandwidth for rail signaling. For example, that's how the Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Network overbuilt its network with fiber and became Sprint. (Bet you didn't know that. :-) But VTA simply leases its spare bandwidth to AT&T, possibly throwing some potential revenue down the drain. However, the City of Palo Alto offers fiberoptic services as a public utility. http://www.cpau.com/fiberservices/

Any city which wants to follow Palo Alto's lead might have an opportunity to do so on PRT aerial structures under this idea. Also, large deployments of cable TV or competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) such as RCN might be interested in any way to blanket neighborhoods with fiber while reducing the amount of street/yard trenching required. Wireless network and cell site providers could run fiber to access points on or near the PRT towers. (That depends on the weight of the equipment and the engineering allowances of the towers. First priority has to be the safety of transit passengers.)

The idea still needs work to determine how telecom and datacom providers would be interested in either sharing costs of construction, or just setting prices so the construction cost can be recouped. (BTW, construction costs are never recouped with current transit modes.) The total cost of PRT per mile is more than urban fiber trenching alone because PRT puts more on the towers. But designing in capacity for multiple fiber runs would allow sharing it with more than one provider, each at less than the cost of trenching. Now is the time to figure that out while we're in a downturn in telecom build-outs. Otherwise there might not be time to make plans once the demand cycle turns upward again.

Ian Kluft KO6YQ PP-ASEL sbay.org coordinator
ikluft(at)thunder.sbay.org http://www.kluft.com/~ikluft/ San Jose, CA
"Carelessness and overconfidence are usually more dangerous
than deliberately accepted risks." -- Wilbur Wright, 1901


Subj: Re: BART/PRT Alternative
Date: 6/23/01 12:56:40 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: akos@modernXtransit.org (Delete the red X)

I think it's a great idea! I think MTS should support it as the preferred build.

If and when Great Mall to downtown SJ patronage becomes so great that it warrants heavy rail transit, then build it. But that won't happen for a long time. Of course, most people would prefer PRT, unless the BART line would be a lot higher speed to downtown. But that won't happen with all the stations, the WP detour, and the right angle turning at 24the St. & Alum Rock that they propose for the BART line. Only a non-stop, direct (no WP detour) line to downtown can effectively compete with PRT.

So, we should support the proposal, and add that in the future a non-stop, direct heavy-rail BART to downtown can be built when and if patronage and decrease in travel time (compared with PRT) makes it worthwile.

-Akos


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