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A comprehensive discussion of automated transit

This book analyzes the successful implementations of automated transit in various international locations, such as Paris, Toronto, London, and Kuala Lumpur, and investigates the apparent lack of automated transit applications in the urban environment in the United States.

The book begins with a brief definition of automated transit and its historical development. After a thorough description of the technical specifications, the author highlights a few applications from each sub-group of the automated transit spectrum. International case studies display various technologies and their applications, and identify vital factors that affect each system and performance evaluations of existing applications. The book then discusses the planning and operation of automated transit applications at both macro and micro levels. Finally, the book covers a number of less successful concepts, as well as the lessons learned, allowing readers to gain a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

Key features:

  • Provides a thorough examination of automated transit applications, their impact and implications for society
  • Written by the committee chair for the Automated Transit Systems Transportation, Research Board
  • Offers essential information on planning, costs, and applications of automated transit systems
  • Covers driverless metros, automated LRT, group and personal rapid transit,  a review of worldwide applications
  • Includes capacity and safety guidelines, as well as vehicles, propulsion, and communication and control systems

This book is essential reading for engineers, researchers, scientists, college or graduate students who work in transportation planning, engineering, operation and management fields.

Categories:
Year:
2017
Edition:
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Publisher:
Wiley-IEEE Press
Language:
english
Pages:
224
ISBN 10:
1118891007
ISBN 13:
9781118891001
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IEEE Press Series on Systems Science and Engineering
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AUTOMATED TRANSIT

IEEE Press
445 Hoes Lane
Piscataway, NJ 08854
IEEE Press Editorial Board
Tariq Samad, Editor in Chief
George W. Arnold
Giancarlo Fortino
Dmitry Goldgof
Ekram Hossain

Xiaoou Li
Vladimir Lumelsky
Pui-In Mak
Jeffrey Nanzer

Ray Perez
Linda Shafer
Zidong Wang
MengChu Zhou

Kenneth Moore, Director of IEEE Book and Information Services (BIS)

AUTOMATED TRANSIT
Planning, Operation, and Applications

RONGFANG (RACHEL) LIU

Copyright © 2017 by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. All rights reserved.
Published simultaneously in Canada.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or
by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as
permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior
written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to
the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400,
fax (978) 750-4470, or on the web at www.copyright.com. Requests to the Publisher for permission
should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken,
NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008, or online at http://www.wiley.com/go/permission.
Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in
preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or
completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of
merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales
representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable
for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publ; isher nor
author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to
special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.
For general information on our other products and services or for technical support, please contact our
Customer Care Department within the United States at (800) 762-2974, outside the United States at
(317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002.
Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may
not be available in electronic formats. For more information about Wiley products, visit our web site at
www.wiley.com.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.
ISBN: 978-1-118-89100-1

Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

This book is dedicated to the three men in my life:
ZHONG:
My rock, who supports anything I am willing to explore;
LYNDALL:
My conscious, who shows me that there might be
another side to any story;
CHARLIE:
My lucky star, who makes me believe that
there are always roads under my feet …

CONTENTS

FOREWORD

xi

PREFACE

xiii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

xv

ABBREVIATIONS
1 INTRODUCTION

xvii
1

1.1
1.2
1.3

Automated Transportation / 2
Automated Transit / 4
Individual Modes of Automated Transit Family / 8
1.3.1 Automated Guideway Transit / 8
1.3.2 Automated Bus / 14
1.3.3 Automated Personal Transit / 15
References / 18

2 HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT
2.1
2.2
2.3

23

Conceptual Initiations: 1960s and Prior / 23
Pilot Demonstrations: 1970s–1980s / 27
Applications in Confined Environments: 1990s–2000s / 32

vii

viii

CONTENTS

2.4

Multipolar Development: New Millennium and Beyond / 36
2.4.1 Exponential Growth of Driverless Metros / 36
2.4.2 Steady Expansion of APM Systems / 39
2.4.3 Emergence of PRT Applications / 39
References / 44
3 TECHNOLOGY SPECIFICATIONS

47

3.1 Vehicles / 48
3.2 Guideway / 51
3.3 Propulsion and System Power / 52
3.4 Communications and Control / 53
3.5 Stations and Platforms / 55
3.6 Maintenance and Storage Facilities / 58
References / 61
4 APPLICATIONS

63

4.1

Driverless Metro in Paris / 64
4.1.1 Clean Slate of Automation: Line No. 14 / 64
4.1.2 Conversion from Manual to DLM: Paris Metro
Line No. 1 / 67
4.2 Automated LRT in Singapore / 70
4.3 Detroit Downtown People Mover / 72
4.4 Automated People Movers in Las Vegas / 74
4.5 Dallas-Fort Worth Airport APM / 79
4.6 AirTrain at JFK Airport / 80
4.7 Morgantown Group Rapid Transit / 81
4.8 Ultra PRT at Heathrow International Airport / 84
References / 86
5 CHARACTERISTICS OF AUTOMATED TRANSIT
APPLICATIONS
5.1

System Characteristics / 89
5.1.1 Physical Layouts / 90
5.1.2 Scale of Systems / 94

89

ix

CONTENTS

5.2

Operating Characteristics / 96
5.2.1 Operating Strategies / 97
5.2.2 Station Operations / 99
5.2.3 System Capacity / 101
5.3 Financial Characteristics / 103
5.3.1 Capital Investment / 104
5.3.2 Operating Expenses / 107
5.3.3 Life Cycle Cost / 110
References / 111
6 ASSESSMENT OF AUTOMATED TRANSIT
PERFORMANCES

115

6.1
6.2
6.3

System Performance / 115
Reliability / 119
Safety and Security / 126
6.3.1 Safety Records for Automated Guideway Transit / 126
6.3.2 Comparison with Other Guideway Transit / 129
6.4 Cost-Effective Analysis / 133
References / 136

7 PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

139

7.1

Public Policy / 142
7.1.1 Research / 142
7.1.2 Design Standards / 143
7.1.3 National Policy / 144
7.2 Long-Range Transportation Planning / 145
7.2.1 Trip Generation / 147
7.2.2 Trip Distribution or Destination Choice Module / 148
7.2.3 Mode and Occupancy Choice Module / 149
7.2.4 Trip Assignment Module / 150
7.3 Operations Planning / 151
References / 154

8 BUSINESS MODELS FOR AUTOMATED TRANSIT
APPLICATIONS
8.1
8.2

Public Owner and Operator / 159
Private Owner and Operator / 162

157

x

CONTENTS

8.3 Public and Private Partners / 166
References / 170
9 LESSONS LEARNED

173

9.1 Driving Can Be Replaced / 174
9.2 Public Policy: A Double-Edged Sword / 175
9.3 Design Matters / 177
9.4 Demonstration Projects are Needed / 178
References / 180
10 FUTURE DIRECTIONS

181

10.1 Grow Automated Transit Applications / 182
10.2 Create New Mode / 183
10.3 Conduct Further Research / 185
10.4 Sponsor Demonstration Projects / 187
10.5 Develop Performance Measures / 188
10.6 Encourage Diverse Business Models / 189
10.7 Gather Public Support / 191
References / 194
INDEX

197

FOREWORD

The science of automated transit is relatively young. Although people have
explored travel options since the early days of history, it is only in the last 50
years or so that engineers and scientists have unveiled transportation options
that are fully automated. From driverless autos to personal rapid transit designs
to full-functioning extended people mover systems, we are learning to give
up the driver’s seat and trust the power of smart technology.
When we began Lea+Elliott in the 1970s, specializing in automated people
movers was an anomaly. Some engineers could not understand why we would
focus on such a niche market. At that time, the industry was mostly focused on
transporting passengers quickly, safely, and efficiently between terminals in
large airports. Today, as we work on nearly every people mover system in the
world, we know that the early technology provided the impetus for systems
that are literally changing how we think about travel. For example, consider
Honolulu, HI. Today, the City and County of Honolulu, in cooperation with
the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), is implementing a 20-mile-long
automated metro rail system that will serve 21 passenger stations. It will be
the first automated metro light rail system in the United States since JFK
AirTrain and will truly change lives for people within its reach.
In such a rapidly changing transit environment, Dr. Rongfang (Rachel) Liu
is the logical person to create this book on the state of automated transit—
and to show where it will lead us in the days to come. As a professional
engineer, licensed planner, and professor in the Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology, Dr. Liu
brings so much more to the transit discussion. Her vast research has been
xi

xii

FOREWORD

published in many books, book chapters, and transportation journals. Her
additional skills in modeling and expertise in intermodal research further
round out her understanding of this complex and multi-faceted transportation
technology. I trust that her knowledge and perspective, provided in these
pages, will offer insights to help you better understand the sophisticated
systems that make automated transit so fascinating. Her thoughts may well
spur your thoughts which just might take automated transit technology to the
next level. Enjoy!
Jack Norton
President/CEO
Lea+Elliott, Inc.
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

PREFACE

The idea for this book was conceived a few years ago when I wrote a book
chapter titled “The Spectrum of Automated Guideway Transit and Its Applications,” which is published in the Handbook of Transportation Engineering
(Kutz, 2011). I have accumulated a large amount of information and felt that
there are so much more can be said but has not been included in the chapter due
to the length limit. In fact, so much was misunderstood or misconstrued for
automated guideway transit (AGT) all together for the past half of a century.
As the Committee Chair for AP040: Automated Transit Systems (ATS),
Transportation Research Board (TRB), I have been working with my committee members and an array of stakeholders, which include transit and Airport
Automated People Mover (AAPM) operators, local and federal government
agencies, and private entities such as Google, CarShare Inc., and Ride Scott.
Continuing dialogs among the automated transit community made the critical
needs paramount. I felt strongly that it is time to have a thorough examination
of the automated transit technology development and its applications.
Furthermore, the promises and expectations created by the “future transportation” starting in 1970s need to be evaluated after more than four decades.
The successful implementations of automated transit in various international
locations, such as Paris, Toronto, London, and Kuala Lumpur, and the apparent lack of automated transit applications in the urban environment in the
United States warrant in-depth analyses. The ultimate lessons learnt via various not so successful concepts, ideas, and programs are also valuable for an
emerging new paradigm, such as automated transit or driverless vehicles, to
grow and prosper.
xiii

xiv

PREFACE

The rapid development of driverless cars by Google and others not only
grabbed the attention of the US Congress, which held a hearing on “the future
role of autonomous vehicles in US transportation” in October 2013, but also
created a perfect opportunity to have a thorough examination of automated
transit applications and their impact and implications for our society. As
pointed out by an anonymous proposal reviewer, “It is the right time to
have a book on automated transit system (ATS). There are many different
automated transit systems worldwide. A book on this topic will be of interest
to transportation professionals, researchers, and some graduate students to
learn basic concepts, technologies and successful examples related to ATS.”
The basic structure of this book follows typical technology development
document that begins with a brief definition of the automated transit, Chapter
1, and their historical development in Chapter 2. After a thorough description of the technical specifications in Chapter 3, the manuscript highlights
a few representative applications from each sub-group of automated transit
spectrum in Chapter 4. The case studies around the world not only showcase
different technologies and their applications but also identify the vital factors
that affect each system and performance evaluations of existing applications
in Chapters 5 and 6. Chapters 7 and 8 of the the book is devoted to planning
and operation of automated transit applications in both macro and micro levels. The last two chapters of the book highlight the lessons learnt from the
past experiences and try to project the new paradigm shift from the current,
conventional transportation systems.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My sincere appreciation goes to many people who contributed directly and
indirectly to the fruition of this book. First, I am indebted to many members
and friends of Automated Transit Systems (ATS – AP040) Committee, previously Major Activity Center Circulation Systems, Transportation Research
Board. During my 6-year term as the committee chair starting in 2008, some
in-depth discussions and dialogs on the directions and structure of the committee have propelled me to explore the historical development of automated
transit technology and engage wide ranges of stakeholders, which provided a
rich background to shape my general view of automated transit development.
Second, I would like to express my gratitude to the visionary leaders who
organized the Automated Vehicle Symposium (AVS), especially those who
contributed to the Automated Transit and Shared Mobility Track (ATSM),
which are co-sponsored by the same TRB ATS committee. The exponential
growth in AVS attendees during the past 5 years and pointed discussions
and/or arguments have instigated further research, clarification, and selection
of book contents.
Next, my appreciation goes to the few selected colleagues and friends who
have painstakingly reviewed the manuscript and provided valuable suggestions and improvements: Stanley E. Young, University of Maryland; William
J. Sproule, Michigan Technological University; Gary Hsue, Arup, Inc.; Ingmar Andreasson, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden; Wayne Cottrell, California State University at Pomona; Sam Lott, Kimbley Horn and Associates,
Inc.; Naderah Moini, University of Illinois at Chicago; Jerry Lutin, New Jersey
Transit, retired; Larry Fabian, Trans.21, Inc.; Peter Muller, PRT Consultant,
xv

xvi

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

LLC; Alex Lu, New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Walter
Kulyk, Federal Transit Administration, retired; Ruben Juster, University of
Maryland; and Matthew Lash, Noblis Inc.
Last but not least, I wish to thank my colleagues in New Jersey Institute of
Technology (NJIT), who granted me a 1-year paid sabbatical leave. The sabbatical leave not only shielded me from regular teaching load, daily commute,
and trivia administrative duties but also liberated my mind and spirit to think
deeply, reach widely, and explore freely. My sincere appreciation goes to
my former students, Zhaodong (Tony) Huang, now with Ningbo University,
and Hongmei Cao, now with Inner Mongolia University, who helped a great
deal in compiling graphs, tables, and glossaries in conjunction with tedious
document review and edit.
I have accumulated a large number of photographs, tables, and figures via
previous research and project experiences and have tried to provide appropriate credit to the maximum extent possible. I regret any errors or oversights
in crediting any material, if any. Of course, any other errors, omissions, and
oversights are my responsibility and will be corrected once known.
Rongfang (Rachel) Liu

ABBREVIATIONS

AA
AADT
AAPM
AB
AC
ACRP
AG
AGRT
AGT
AGTS
AHS
AIP
ALRT
APM
APT
APTA
ASCE

alternative analysis (7)
annual average daily traffic (6.3)
airport automated people mover (2.1)
automated bus (1.2)
alternating current (2.4.1)
Airport Cooperative Research Program (10.5)
automated guideway (6.1)
advanced group rapid transit (2.2)
automated guideway transit (1.2)
automated guideway transit systems (6.3)
automated highway systems (8.3)
Airport Improvement Program (8.1)
automated light rail transit (4.2)
automated people mover (1.2)
automated personal transit (1.3)
American Public Transportation Association (1.2)
American Society of Civil Engineers (3)

xvii

xviii

ATC
ATSM
ATN
ATO
ATP
ATS
ATS
AV
AVS
BAA
BOT
BPMT
BRT
BTS
BTRM
BUPT
BVRM
CBTC
CBD
CCF
CEA
CES
CFC
CCVS
CL
CVG
DB
DBFO
DBO
DBOM
DBOT
DC

ABBREVIATIONS

automatic train control (3.4)
Automated Transit and Shared Mobility (Front Matters)
automated transit network (1.3.1)
automatic train operation (3.4)
automatic train protection (3.4)
automated transit systems (1.2)
automatic train supervision (3.4)
automated vehicle (1.3.2)
Automated vehicles symposium (front matters)
British Airport Authority (8.2)
build operate and transfer (8.3)
billion passenger mile travelled (6.3)
bus rapid transit (1.3)
Bureau of Transportation Statistics (1.2)
billion train revenue miles (6.3)
billion unlinked passenger trips (6.3)
billion vehicle revenue miles (6.3)
communication-based train control (4.1.2)
central business district (4.3)
central control facility (3.4)
cost-effectiveness analysis (6.5)
Consumer Electronics Show (8.2)
consumer facility charge (8.1)
computer-controlled vehicle system (2.1)
Circle Line (4.2)
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (5.1.1)
design build (8.3)
design, build, finance, and operate (8.3)
design-build-operation (8.3)
design, build, operate and maintain
design-build-operate-transfer (8.3)
direct current (3.2)

ABBREVIATIONS

DC
DFW
DLB
DLLRT
DLM
DPM

destination choice (7.2)
Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport (4.5)
driverless bus (1.3.2)
driverless LRT (4.2)
driverless metro (1.2)
downtown people mover (2.2)

EIS environmental impact statement (7)
FAA
FRA
FRR
FPS
FPS2
FTA

Federal Aviation Administration (8.1)
Federal Railroad Administration (3.0)
farebox recovery ratio (8.1)
feet per second (3.1)
feet per second/second (5.1)
Federal Transit Administration (1.3.2)

GAO
GN
GO
GPS
GRT

General Accounting Office (1.3.1.2)
guideway network (7.3)
general obligation (8.2)
Global Positioning System (1.1)
group rapid transit (1.2)

HR heavy rail (6.3)
IEC
IVTT

International Electrotechnical Commission (1.3.1)
in vehicle travel time (7.2)

JFK John F. Kennedy (4.6)
KMPH kilometers per hour
LCC
LHR

life cycle cost (5.3.3)
London Heathrow Airport (2.4.2)

xix

xx

ABBREVIATIONS

LIMs
LIRR
LPA
LRT
LRTP
LVM

linear induction motors (3.3)
Long Island Railroad (4.6)
locally preferred alternatives (7.1.3)
light rail transit (6.3)
long range transportation planning (7.2)
Las Vegas Monorail (4.4)

MAC
MDBF
MDT
MG
MPH
MPMT
MPO
MR
MRT
MSF
MTA
MTBF
MTKM
MTRM
MTTR
MUPT
MVRM

major activity centers (2.3)
mean distance between failures (6.2)
Miami-Dade Transit (6.3)
Monorail and Automated Guideway (6.1)
miles per hour (1.3.1)
million passenger miles travelled (6.3)
metropolitan planning organization (7.2)
monorail (6.1)
mass rapid transit (4.2)
maintenance and storage facility (3.6)
Maryland Transit Administration (8.1)
mean time between failures (6.2)
million train kilometers (6.2)
million train revenue miles (6.3)
mean time to repair (6.2)
million unlinked passenger trips (6.3)
million vehicle revenue miles (6.3)

NEL
NEPA
NFPC
NHTSA
NJ TRANSIT
NTD
NTSB
OAK
OCC

North East Line (4.2)
National Environmental Policy Act (7)
National Fire Protection Code (3.4)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (1.1)
New Jersey Transit (8.1)
National Transit Database (2.3)
National Transportation Safety Board (3.0)

Oakland International Airport (3.2)
operational control centers (4.1.2)

ABBREVIATIONS

O-D
O&M
OVTT

origin and destination (5.2.3)
operation and maintenance (3.4)
out-of-vehicle travel times (6.2)

PA
PANYNJ
PATH
PCM
PFC
PFI
PHX
PLMT
PMT
PPHPD
PPP
PRT
RATP
R&D
RER
ROI
RP
RTA
SAE
SAV
SBT
SEA
SFO
SMRT
SOV
SP
SS&PS

public address (3.1)
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (4.6)
Partners for Advanced Transit and Highway (1.3)
passenger car miles (6.1)
passenger facility charge (8.1)
private finance initiative (8.3)
Phoenix International Airport (3.6)
place miles traveled (6.5)
passenger miles travelled (6.1)
passengers per hour per direction (5.2.3)
public-private partnerships (8.3)
personal rapid transit (1.2)

Regie Autonome Des Transports Parisiens (4.1.1)
research and development (8.3)
Reseau Express Regional (4.1.1)
return on investment (8.3)
revealed preference (10.3)
Regional Transit Authority (2.4.2)
Society of Automotive Engineers (1.1)
shared autonomous vehicle (7.3)
Singapore Bus Transit (4.2)
Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (6.2)
San Francisco (3.2)
Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (4.2)
single occupancy vehicle (3.0)
stated preference (10.3)
Systems Safety and Passenger Security (6.3)

xxi

xxii

ABBREVIATIONS

TIP
TNC
TOD
TPA
TRB
TRM
TVMs
SEA

transportation improvement programs (7.2)
transportation network companies (8.3)
transit oriented development (9.2)
Tampa International Airport (6.2)
Transportation Research Board (1.2)
train revenue miles (6.1)
ticket vending machines (4.4)
Tacoma International Airport (6.2)

UAACC
UK
ULTRA
UITP
UMTA
UPT
USDOT
UTA
VAA
VAL
VMT
VRM

user allocation of annualized capital cost (6.5)
United Kingdom (8.2)
urban light transit (2.4.2)
Union International de Tramways (6.3)
Urban Mass Transportation Administration (2.2)
unlinked passenger trips (6.1)
United States Department of Transportation (7.1)
Utah Transit Authority (8.1)

vehicle assist and automation (1.3.2)
vehicle automated léger (automatic light vehicle) (2.2)
vehicle miles travelled (6.1)
vehicle revenue miles (6.1)

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

A few recent developments, such as Google’s driverless cars, automated features on various luxury automobile models, and disputes between automobile
manufacturers and telecommunication providers on broadband channels, propelled “automated transportation” onto the center stage. It seems that the rapid
development in autonomous driving and its control and communication technologies in conjunction with exponential growth in smartphones, detection
technologies, and precision mapping and navigation systems will usher in a
brand new paradigm: a new fleet of automated or driverless vehicles.
The automated vehicle, be it passenger car or bus, will not only have the
potential to change the way we travel, but also the fundamental structures
of auto ownership, housing design, and societal relationships. For example,
when using a driverless vehicle, there is no need to keep it parked next to
downtown offices with expensive parking. A traveler can simply send his or
her driverless car to park itself at a remote, cheaper location or home. When
driverless cars and self-parking features become a reality, someone may ask
why I need a private car. Isn’t it easier to summon a driverless car just when
I need it? Or why do I need a garage attached to my house if I do not even
need to own a car in the first place?
Ready or not, autonomous driving is coming, maybe sooner than many
have expected. As transportation planners, engineers, and decision makers
are in the process of evaluating technologies, testing prototype vehicles, and
Automated Transit: Planning, Operations, and Applications, First Edition. Rongfang (Rachel) Liu.
Copyright © 2017 by The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc. Published 2017 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

1

2

INTRODUCTION

developing safety regulations; the general public may get excited, curious, or
sometimes anxious. Capturing the momentum of recent critical development
in automated transportation systems, this book provides a comprehensive and
systematic evaluation of automated transit technology and its applications,
which may lend some significant lessons for the development of automated
vehicles.
Building on the extensive research accumulated from more than half of a
century and expansive communications with a large network of professionals,
this book not only presents a comprehensive review of automated transit
technology and development, it also tries to assess existing and potential
automated transit applications. As the foundations of in-depth discussions
and comprehension, a clear definition of automated transit technologies and
their applications is in order and presented in Sections 1.1 to 1.3.

1.1 AUTOMATED TRANSPORTATION
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA,
2013), automated vehicles are those in which at least some aspects of a
safety-critical control function, such as steering, throttle, or braking, occur
without direct driver input. Automated vehicles may use some combination of
onboard sensors, cameras, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and telecommunications to obtain information in order to make their own judgments
regarding safety-critical situations and act appropriately by effectuating control at some level.
NHTSA also clearly excludes “vehicles that provide safety warnings to
drivers, such as forward crash warning but do not perform a control function”
from fully automated vehicle categories. As shown in Table 1.1, a fivelevel definition of vehicle automation is included in the policy statement
by NHTSA, which provides general guidelines for recognizing automation
development.
Around the same time, the Society of Automotive Engineers International
(SAE, 2014) has developed its own six-level automated driving classifications.
Despite the six versus five levels by SAE and NHTSA respectively, the
taxonomy is almost identical except the highest level of automation by SAE.
As demonstrated in Figure 1.1, the “Level Zero” automation by either NHTSA
or SAE means no automation or only warning but no control function, which
maybe equivalent to most of manually driven vehicles on the market as
of 2016. On the other hand, the “Level Five,” Full Automation by SAE,
mandates “full time performance by an automated driving system for all
aspects of the dynamic driving task under all roadway and environmental
conditions,” which is an extremely tall order that is beyond the capabilities of

AUTOMATED TRANSPORTATION

TABLE 1.1

Highlights of Vehicle Automation Definition

Levels

Extend of
Automation

0

No automation

1

2

3

4

3

Driver’s Role

Complete and sole
control
Function-specific
Overall and sole
automation
control but may
cede limited
authority
Combined function May disengage
automation
from actual
driving
Limited
Available for
self-driving
occasional
automation
control
Full self-driving
automation

Not needed

Automation’s Role Examples
Only warning but
no control
Assist or augment
driver’s
operations

Collision warning
Cruise control, lane
keeping

At least two
Adaptive control
primary control
combined with
functions
lane centering
No need for driver’s Automated driving
continuous
in pre-mapped
monitoring
roadway
segments
All safety critical
Empty moving
driving functions
vehicles
and roadway
conditions

Source: NHTSA, 2013.

conventional vehicles as a transportation mode. For example, the “all roadway
and environmental conditions” maybe easily construed as there is no paved
roadways needed or all of water, land, and air paths can be navigated by such
automated machines. Therefore, the NHTSA automation definition of five
levels is adopted for the discussion in this manuscript.
Focusing on the four levels of automation, from Automation Level One to
Automation Level Four, defined by NHTSA and SAE, it is generally agreed
that the vehicle automation definition not only defines the characteristics

Automated driving system
monitors driving environment
Human driver monitors
driving environment

0

1

No
automation

Driver
assistance

FIGURE 1.1

2

3

4

5

Partial
Conditional
High
Full
automation automation automation automation

Vehicle Automation Definition by SAE. Data from SAE International, 2014.

4

INTRODUCTION

of various levels of automation, but also highlights the developing stages
of various automation technologies and their implications to the driving
population.
On the other hand, some opposes the numerical level definition of vehicle
automation. They believe that the numerical levels suggest an ordering or
hierarchy to technology development (Templeton, 2015), which may not be
rigidly followed by technology development processes. For example, the
Google car is capable of fully automated driving on highways and many
private streets approved and mapped by Google at full road speed, which is
the first implementation of the “Automation Level Three” concept. At the
same time, the “Induct” by French company Navia can be summoned with
a phone, drives on ordinary roads among pedestrians, cyclists, and other
vehicles, but with very low speed. Without a steering wheel, the “Induct” is
fully automated, equivalent to the “Automation Level Four” definition, but
the very low speed will not allow it to operate on public highways with mixed
traffic.
As of 2016, when this manuscript was developed, there is no “Automation
Level Four” vehicle traveling along the highways around the world. However, there are fully automated, driverless, and/or centrally controlled transit
vehicles in operation for more than four decades. The millions of vehicle
and passenger miles logged by those automated transit applications without
a single casualty should be one, but not the only, reason for the automated
transportation community to turn our attention to the automated transit applications and learn from their operating experiences.

1.2 AUTOMATED TRANSIT
When hearing the term automated transit, most people would have the images
of transit vehicles that do not have drivers in the front, such as the automated
people mover (APM) shuttles between airport terminals or monorail trains
connecting various casinos in Las Vegas, as shown in Figure 1.2. There are
many sizes and shapes of automated transit applications constructed in various
public and private locations, but there is no systematic or consensus definition
for automated transit except the recent attempt by AP040: Automated Transit
System (ATS) Committee, Transportation Research Board (TRB). Defining
the research scope, the definition by TRB AP040 only listed all the members
of automated transit family (TRB, 2013).
Tailoring definitions of transportation and transit systems by predominate
transportation research entities such as Bureau of Transportation Statistics
(BTS, 1996) and American Public Transportation Association (APTA, 1994),
the author would like to define automated transit as passenger transportation

AUTOMATED TRANSIT

5

(a)

(b)

(c)

FIGURE 1.2
2015.

(a–c) Various Images of Automated Transit Systems. Source: Liu and Moini,

6

INTRODUCTION

Automated transportation systems

Autonomous cars

Autonomous
trucks

Automated transit

Automated bus

Automated
personal transit

Personal rapid
transit

FIGURE 1.3

Group rapid
transit

Automated
guideway transit

Automated
people movers

Driverless
metros

Automated Transportation.

services that are available to any person who pays a prescribed fare but
are not required to be operated by driver, conductor, or station attendant.
In practice, the automated transit fare may come from different sources and
in various shapes or sizes. For example, the fare for Miami Metromover is
zero, or free, and the fare for Morgantown Group Rapid Transit (GRT) by the
University students are collected via their tuition. Similarly, the fare for Ultra
Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) in Heathrow International Airport in London
is included in the parking fees.
Under the general umbrella of Automated Transportation, automated transit is parallel to automated cars and automated trucks, which have no commercial applications at the writing of this book. As shown in Figure 1.3,
automated transit is made of a family of individual automated transit modes,
such as automated bus, driverless metro (DLM), APM, GRT, and PRT. All of
the existing commercial applications belong to the automated transit, especially the automated guideway transit (AGT) group.
As expected, automated transit is different from traditional heavy, light,
and commuter rail transit, in that it is operated via a central control system
without drivers, conductors, or station attendants (Liu, 2010). Improved communication and control technology has enabled fully automated or driverless,
fail-safe operations of modern automated transit to satisfy wider ranges of
capacity, spatial coverage, and temporal span of transit services. Traditional

AUTOMATED TRANSIT

7

guideway transit may join the automated transit family if it is operated or
capable of operating via a central control system without drivers onboard
the vehicles. Even some agencies may choose to have a vehicle or station
attendant present for the comfort of customers such as the Docklands Light
Railway (Carter, 1986).
It is possible for traditional guideway transit, such as subway or LRT, to
be converted into automated transit applications, as in the case of Paris Metro
Line 1. In the other spectrum of lower and medium capacity of Automated
Transit applications, AGT, such as APM or PRT, uses narrower right-of-ways,
lighter tracks, if any, and smaller vehicles than traditional transit applications.
There are various experiments or testing protocols of automated cars,
trucks, and buses, denoted as ovals in Figure 1.3, but there is no commercial
application as of 2016. There are a few PRT applications in commercial operations but none of them operate to the full characteristics, such as bypassing
stations or direct origin and destination travel; therefore, PRT is also denoted
with an oval in Figure 1.3.
Another unique mode, automated personal transit (APT), denoted by a
circle, is anticipated once the autonomous driving roadway vehicle technology
becomes mature. The main characteristics of APT is that it operates as an
autonomous vehicle and not restricted to a guideway as PRT does, while the
ownership of APT vehicles resides with a public agency or third party other
than the individual user or rider. The formation of the unique APT mode will
be dictated by the maturity and customer acceptance of automated vehicles
and shared mobility. The significant impacts of the APT on travel behavior,
urban development, and other societal aspects are anticipated and will be
elaborated in the later chapters.
It is not by accident that vehicle automation applications so far have been
concentrated in the fixed guideway subgroup. Vehicle automation within a
closed guideway or corridor does have its inherent advantages, which generally rely on a known traveling environment and relinquish control to centralized computer systems.
Many real-world AGT applications have been operating for several
decades, which not only proved the feasibility of automated transit services,
but also provided valuable experiences in automated operations, customer
experience, and market responses. This is also one of the reasons for this
book to focus on automated transit, which has accumulated many years of
operation and maintenance practices with great safety record. It is understood
that automated transit, especially AGT, is different from fully automated
roadway vehicles, nevertheless, much information and/or many lessons from
automated transit operations may be gleaned and made useful to the overall
automated transportation development.

8

INTRODUCTION

1.3 INDIVIDUAL MODES OF AUTOMATED TRANSIT FAMILY
When zooming into the automated transit family tree, you will notice that
there are two main branches under the general umbrella of automated transit:
automated buses and AGT. There are quite a few sub-modes under AGT, which
includes DLM, APM, GRT and PRT. Each of the sub-modes will be briefly
defined in the following section and more characteristics and applications will
be described in the following chapters.
1.3.1 Automated Guideway Transit
As members of the automated transit family, AGT is defined as a class of
transportation modes in which fully automated vehicles operate along dedicated guideways (Liu, 2010). The capacity of the AGT vehicles ranges from
3 or 4 up to 100 passengers. AGT Vehicles are made of single-unit cars or
multiple-unit trains. The operating speeds are from 10 to 55 miles per hour
(mph), and headways may vary from a few seconds to a few minutes. AGT
may be made of a single trunk route, multiple branches, or interconnected
networks.
Depending on the vehicle size, capacity, and other operating characteristics, AGT may be categorized into various subgroups, such as DLM, APM,
GRT, and PRT. Different operating environments often give AGT applications generic names, such as airport circulators or downtown people movers.
Diversified track configurations, propulsion powers, and other technological
features impart to AGT other names, such as monorail, duo-rail, and maglev,
among others.
Automation in metro or guideway transit systems refers to the process
by which the responsibility for operation and management of the trains is
transferred from the driver to the train control system (UITP, 2015). There
are various degrees of automation, which is defined according to which basic
functions of train operation are the responsibility of staff, and which are the
responsibility of the system itself.
Similar to the definition of autonomous vehicles by NHTSA presented
earlier, there is a consorted classification of AGT by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The classification of AGT is explained and
exhibited diagrammatically in Figure 1.4. Comparing to the definition for
vehicle automation presented earlier, the Grade of Automation by IEC for
automated transit is analogous to the four levels excluding the initial “Level
Zero” or no automation category from the NHTSA and SAE definitions. For
example, a “Grade of Automation One” would correspond to on-sight operation, like a tram running in street traffic. A “Grade of Automation Four”
would refer to a system in which vehicles are run fully automatically without

INDIVIDUAL MODES OF AUTOMATED TRANSIT FAMILY

9

Manually

How is the train
driven?

GoA1

Automatically
(ATO)

Staff member
on all trains?

No

GoA4
(UTO)

FIGURE 1.4

Yes

Staff member
performs critical
function?
No

Attended
GoA4

Yes

Where is staff
member located?

Separate
cab

GoA2

Passenger
car
GoA3

Illustration of Grade of Automation for Transit. Source: Cohen et al., 2015.

any operating staff onboard. The technologies and case studies covered in this
book refer to “Grade of Automation Four,” which does not require a human
driver on board to ensure safety operation of the trains.
In order to accomplish the objective of comprehensive review of automated
transit applications and gathering useful lessons learned, the rest of the book
will largely focus on the AGT applications that have been in operation and
have accumulated sufficient data to be evaluated and compared. Individual
modes of those corresponding categories are defined as follows.
1.3.1.1 Driverless Metro There is no commonly accepted definition for
DLM, which often conjures images of heavy rail or subway trains without a
driver. Gathering input from various experts and practitioners (Cottrell, 2006;
Metro bits, 2015), the author defines DLM as a metro or subway transit
vehicle or unit that operates without onboard intervention from a driver
or attendant.
If the distinction between DLM and traditional transit is whether a driver
or attendant is needed to operate the transit service, the feature to separate
the DLM from the rest of AGT family lies in the service area it covers and
the capacity it provides. In general, DLM operates as a regular fixed route,
fixed schedule transit service in high density urban areas. Figure 1.5 depicts
the DLM operating in Paris, France.
Besides Paris Metro, which has a high concentration of DLM such as
Line 1, Line 14, and Line 15, many metropolitan areas in Asia, Europe, and
South America implemented DLMs in recent years. Examples include Dubai
Metro, Line 10 in Shanghai Metro, both Line 1 and Line 2 in Copenhagen
Metro, and both Line 4 and Line 15 in Sao Paulo Metro. As of 2016, there
are nearly 40 DLM lines around the world and more future DLM lines are in
the planning and construction stages (Metrobits, 2015).

10

INTRODUCTION

FIGURE 1.5

Driverless Metro Train for Paris Metro Line 1. Courtesy of Michel Parent.

1.3.1.2 Automated People Movers General Accounting Office
(USGAO, 1980) defined automated people movers (APM) as driverless
vehicles operating on a fixed guideway. This definition did not distinguish
APM from DLM or any sub-modes of AGT family, such as GRT or PRT.
Using the vehicle capacity yardstick, we can easily distinguish APM, a
medium capacity mode of AGT family, from its high capacity DLM, and low
capacity PRT cousins.
Building on the GAO basic definition and observing the real-world applications, the APM definition can be supplemented with the following specifications: APM vehicle, with a capacity ranging from 30 to 100 people,
may be operated as single units or as trains at speeds up to 30 mph. APM
headway, the time interval between vehicles moving along a main route,
varies from 1 to several minutes (Liu and Lau, 2008).
The APM system is automated in that there are no drivers on board the
vehicles or trains. The system is controlled or monitored by operators from
a remote central control facility. Typically, the electromechanical design and
physical characteristics of an APM are unique and proprietary to each manufacturer (Elliott and Norton, 1999). APM applications may partake names
such as downtown people movers (DPM), airport APM (AAPM) or automated
trams depending on the operating environments.

INDIVIDUAL MODES OF AUTOMATED TRANSIT FAMILY

FIGURE 1.6

11

Example of APM Train at Airport.

The very first APM service at a major airport in the United States was
installed at Tampa International Airport in 1971 (Lin and Trani, 2000). Today,
close to 60 APM applications are seen at various airport facilities worldwide,
carrying more than 1.6 million passengers daily (Trans.21, 2014). Figure
1.6 shows the APM at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, one of the
large-scale Airport APM applications in the world.
1.3.1.3 Personal Rapid Transit If DLM and APM occupy the large and
medium spectrum of vehicle sizes for AGT technology, we can easily place
PRT at the other end of the spectrum—very small vehicles with a capacity of
three to five persons per car or “pod.” Based on definitions in various studies
by several authors (Schneider, 1993; Muller, 2007; Koskinen et al., 2007),
the author defines PRT as a subcategory of AGT that offers on-demand,
nonstop transportation using small, automated vehicles on a network of
dedicated guideways with off-line stations.
Similar to DLM and APM applications, PRT operates automated vehicles
along dedicated guideways. In contrast to DLM and APM applications, PRT
vehicles are designed for a single person or a small group traveling together
by choice on a network of guideways, and the trip is nonstop with no transfer.
PRT stations are often off-line or bypass main lines, so vehicles stop only at
their riders’ final destination stations. PRT trips typically are on-demand, and
PRT vehicles or pod cars are supposed to wait at stations prior to the arrival
of passengers. Figure 1.7 exhibits the configuration of a PRT network with
stations bypassing the main line guideway, which is the most predominate
feature that distinguish PRT from other AGT family members.

12

INTRODUCTION

FIGURE 1.7 PRT Configuration with Bypassing Stations. Source: Zheng and Peeta, 2014.
Public domain.

There are currently only a few early, tentative stage applications of
PRT, such as Ultra in London Heathrow International Airport, “2getthere”
in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, and “SkyCube” in Suncheon, South Korea.
Those applications are labeled as PRTs as the small vehicles do resemble the
small, private nature of PRT vehicles, but the network operation and direct
origin-destination trips are very limited. For example, Ultra PRT at Heathrow
International Airport has only three stations. Trips can and are made between
any two without stopping at the third but network maneuvering cannot be
tested due to the simple, small-scale application. Both “2getthere” and “Skycube” have the by-passing station capability built in but not used.
A fully developed PRT application should serve multiple destinations over
a large service area via a variety of paths—a network (Furman et al., 2014).
Vehicles will travel from station to station in response to passenger needs and
network loads, skipping stations along the way. PRT systems will respond to
real-time fluctuations in system capacity by routing vehicles headed to the
same destination via the most efficient route available, the routing algorithm
may be defined by the dispatching center and change accordingly. Generally,
there is no schedule as PRT vehicles typically wait at stations or are dispatched
to stations on demand.
There are also different names for PRT applications. For example, automated transit network (ATN) is another name used for PRT in recent

INDIVIDUAL MODES OF AUTOMATED TRANSIT FAMILY

13

years (Furman et al., 2014). In Europe, ATN is often referred as “podcars.” This book describes the ATN concept and may use it interchangeably
with PRT.
1.3.1.4 Group Rapid Transit After defining the main blocks of the AGT
spectrum, DLM, APM, and PRT, it is much easier to envision the middle child—GRT—which is similar to PRT in operating characteristics, but
with higher occupancy vehicles and grouping of passengers with potentially different origin–destination pairs. As noted in an early study (National
Research Council, 1975), the starting capacity for GRT is six passengers
per car, whereas the upper limit is around 16 or 18; there are no clear distinctions between GRT and APM in terms of vehicle capacities. Their differences are inhabited in the areas of station location and vehicle routing
patterns.
As the capacity difference blurs between APMs and GRT, it is possible for
a GRT to have a range of vehicle sizes to accommodate different passenger
loading requirements. That is at different times of the day or on routes with
less or more average traffic, a GRT may constitute an “optimal” surface
transportation routing solution in terms of balancing trip time and convenience
with resource efficiency.
The Morgantown application in West Virginia should be correctly classified
as GRT, and it is the only GRT application in the world until 1999 when
Rivium GRT started its operation in City of Capelle aan den Ijssel, Netherland
(2getthere, 2011). As shown in Figure 1.8, the Morgantown GRT vehicle has
seats for eight people and some room for standees. The cars run on rubber tires
in a U-shaped concrete guideway that has power and signal rails along the
inner walls. The system is fully automated and does not require human drivers.
There are three intermediate stations. Each station has several platforms and
also “express tracks” that bypass the station completely.
The off-line stations, which can be bypassed for direct origin and destination trips, are one of the distinguished features that tie the Morgantown GRT
more closely to PRT systems than their large capacity cousins, such as DLM
or APM, which operate more like fixed route and fixed schedule transit. The
advantage of the Morgantown application is that it is capable and has been
operating among three modes: on demand, circulation, and on schedule. More
elaboration on these applications can be found in Chapter 4.
Morgantown succeeded in demonstrating most of the tenets of PRT, but
since the vehicles have capacity to hold more than 20 people, which is large
in comparison to the PRT concept, transportation theorists frequently refer
to the Morgantown system as an example of Automated GRT (Raney and
Young, 2005). As a result, we would like to call Morgantown application
a GRT.

14

INTRODUCTION

FIGURE 1.8
domain.

GRT in Morgantown, West Virginia. Source: Raney and Young, 2005. Public

1.3.2 Automated Bus
Parallel to the definition of bus (United States Government Publishing Office,
2011), an automated bus, or driverless bus (DLB), is defined as an automated
vehicle designed to carry more than 15 passengers and operates on nonexclusive roadways. As a high capacity autonomous vehicle, automated bus
combines the advantages of both driverless technology and high efficiency of
public transit. When reaching the level of full automation, an automated bus
will operate on non-exclusive roadways, where pedestrian and/or automotive
traffic also exists.
There is currently no fully automated bus in commercial operations even
as many individual or combined automation functions have been tested in
various locations. For example, researchers from California and the Chicago
area (Shladover et al., 2004) have tested collision warning, precision docking,
transit signal priority, and automatic steering control in Bus Rapid Transit
(BRT) applications in the Chicago area. Another group of researchers (Tan
et al., 2009) have performed similar demonstration/test of lane guidance
function via AC Transit in California.
Another operational use of transit-related Automated Vehicle (AV) technology in the United States is a prototype developed by university under Federal
Transit Administration (FTA) grants (National Center for Transit Research,

INDIVIDUAL MODES OF AUTOMATED TRANSIT FAMILY

15

2015). In Apple Valley, Minnesota, a suburb south of Minneapolis, the
Minnesota Valley Transit Authority contracted with the University of
Minnesota to develop a GPS-based driver assist system to improve safety
during bus shoulder operations.
The latest pilot program funded by the FTA demonstrated the benefits of
Vehicle Assist and Automation (VAA) applications for full-size public transit buses in Eugene, Oregon (Liu et al., 2016). The local transit agency,
Lane Transit District, contracted with the Partners for Advanced Transit
and Highways (PATH) at UC Berkeley, which developed a magnetic guidance system that is used for precision docking by the EmX BRT system at
three stations. As shown in Figure 1.9, the automated bus has performed
lane keeping, precision docking, and responded to traffic signals along the
testing route.
Toyota piloted an automated bus system about a decade ago as a demonstration project during the 2005 Aichi World Expo (Lott, 2014). These robotic
buses could electronically couple and uncouple for dynamic platooning of the
buses on the fly, and the automated buses could switch between manual and
automated operations. The robotic vehicles steer themselves and do not need
physical guidance or switches, eliminate the need for costly rail switches.
The latest testing operation of automated bus came from Henan Province
in China. In August 2015, Yutong, a leading bus manufacturer in China, has
successfully completed its trial operation for driverless or automated bus on
the intercity road between Zhengzhou and Kaifeng (Yutong, 2015). Without
any human assistance, the automated bus reached the destination safely and
reached the top speed 43 mph.
1.3.3 Automated Personal Transit
Propelled by the rapid development of computing, navigation, and communication technologies, vehicle automation is no longer restricted to confined
environments or dedicated tracks. Instigated by the ever worsening congestions along our urban street and intercity highways, more travelers are
turning their hope for autonomous vehicles, which will liberate human from
driving task, an undertaking of 75 billion hours per year in the United States
alone (Morgan Stanley Research, 2015). With the widely garnered publicity
of Google cars and the like, it is not difficult to image what a great leap
or interruption it will be when “Automation Level Four” vehicles become
a reality.
According to Morgan Stanley Research (2015), the vehicle automation
may very well develop along two diverging paths. As demonstrated in
Figure 1.10, the current travel scenario depicted in the first quadrant has
been invaded by various shared economy pioneers such as Uber, Lyft, and

16

INTRODUCTION

(a)

(b)

FIGURE 1.9 (a, b) Automated Bus. Reproduced with permission of Wei-Bin Zhang, UC
Berkeley PATH.

Sidecar, which are depicted in the second quadrant. The third quadrant points
to the direction of automated vehicles that continue on the current private
ownership axis. Far in the future, there will be the convergence of vehicle
automation and shared economy—shared autonomy. One of the examples of
shared autonomy is the APT defined earlier in this chapter.

17

Autonomous

INDIVIDUAL MODES OF AUTOMATED TRANSIT FAMILY

(3) Owned autonomy

(4) Shared autonomy

• High tech, individually operated
• Tesla, Mobileye

• Autonomous PODS
• Google, Apple, Uber 2.0

Asset owned

Asset shared

(2) Shared economy

• 100 yr. old model
• OEMs, Suppliers, Rentals

• Low tech, shared asset
• Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, etc.
Human driver

(1) Today

FIGURE 1.10 Vehicle Automation and Shared Mobility Paths. Source: Morgan Stanley
Research, 2015. Reproduced with permission of Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC.

As an integral part of modern life in most developed countries, a private
automobile may also be one of the least utilized assess while its expense is
only second to housing or shelter. If a vehicle is only utilized one or two hours
each day, if the cost of hired taxi can be dramatically reduced via automated
vehicles, it is quite possible that individual travelers will forego owning a
vehicle all together. It will be much more efficient to summon an automated
vehicle when one needs to travel but not have to worry about maintaining,
storing, insuring, and owning the vehicle at all. This scenario will usher
in a new mode, APT, which combines the advantages of both automated
vehicles and PRT. The fleet of APT vehicles will be owned, maintained, and
insured by a public agency or third party entity, thus transit mode. It will
provide personalized, direct door-to-door service with comfort, convenience,
and privacy of an automobile, thus personal.
The fleet of APT vehicles may be owned and operated by a public transit
agency, such as New Jersey Transit (NJ TRANSIT), or a private entity, such as
Google, an automobile manufacturer, or any third party such as Uber and the
likes. An APT vehicle will be liberated from the confined tracks of PRT and
expenses of owning a private vehicle. Instead, an APT service will possess

18

INTRODUCTION

some of the characteristics of public transit, accessible to anyone who is willing to pay a fare, operated by a public agency over a regional network. It will
also take full advantage of automated vehicles, direct door-to-door services,
and reduced cost than taxi since no human driver is needed. The automated
or driverless features will keep the cost down and make it affordable for
most travelers to hire an automated taxi—another name for APT. The transit classification or public ownership will ensure potential funding sources,
regulatory jurisdiction, and safety oversight for the sustainable development
of APT.
There are many different shapes and forms of automated transit applications, which maybe called different names depending on their configuration,
operating environment, and service characteristics. One common thread connecting the AGT family is that they are operated via central control system
without on-board human drivers. Another factual connection is that every
individual mode of the AGT family has at least one application in real-world
operations. In contrast, the automated bus and APT modes dictated by the
non-exclusive roadway operations, are still in various developing and testing
stages. More detailed descriptions of individual modes and their respective
applications of AGT technologies are elaborated in the following sections of
the book.

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Metro bits. 2015. “World Metro Database.” Available at http://micro.com/metro/table.html. Accessed in August 2015.
Metrobits. 2015. “Driverless metros.” Available at http://mic-ro.com/metro/
driverless.html. Accessed in August 2015.
Morgan Stanley Research. 2015. “Autonomous cars: the future is now.” January 23,
2015. Available at https://www.morganstanley.com/articles/autonomous-cars-thefuture-is-now. Accessed in October 2015.
Muller, P. 2007. “A personal rapid transit/airport automated people mover comparison.” In: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Automated People
Movers IV: Enhancing Values in Major Activity Centers, Irving, TX, March 18–20,
1993.

20

INTRODUCTION

National Center for Transit Research. 2015. Evaluation of automated vehicle technology for transit. Final Report prepared for Florida Department of Transportation.
BDV26977-07. January 2015.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 2013. Preliminary statement of policy concerning automated vehicles. Available at http://www.nhtsa.
gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/U.S.+Department+of+Transportation+
Releases+Policy+on+Automated+Vehicle+Development. Accessed in August
2014.
National Research Council. 1975. “Summary of a review of the department of transportation’s automated guideway transit program.” Monograph. Contract No. OTOS-40022.
Raney, S., and S. Young. 2005. “Morgantown People Mover – updated description.” In: Proceedings of Transportation Research Board Annual Conference,
2005.
SAE International. 2014. “Automated driving: levels of driving automation
are defined in New SAE International Standard J3016.” Available at
http://standards.sae.org/automotive/. Accessed in August 2015.
Schneider, J. 1993. “Designing APM circulator systems for major activity centers:
an interactive graphic approach.” In: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Automated People Movers IV: Enhancing Values in Major Activity
Centers, Irving, TX, March 18–20, 1993.
Shladover, S. E., et al. 2004. “Assessment of the applicability of cooperative vehiclehighway automation systems to bus transit and intermodal freight: case study
feasibility analyses in the metropolitan Chicago region.” UCB-ITS-PRR-200426. California PATH Research Report.
Tan, H-S., et al. 2009. Field demonstration and tests of lane assist/guidance and precision docking technology. UCB-ITS-PRR-2009-12. California PATH Research
Report.
Templeton, B. 2015. “A critique of NHTSA and SAE ‘levels’ of self driving.” Available at http://www.templetons.com/brad/robocars/levels.html. Accessed in August
2015.
Trans.21. 2014. “Fall 2014 airport APMs.” Available at https://faculty.washington.
edu/jbs/itrans/trans21.htm. Accessed in August 2015.
Transportation Research Board. 2013. “Standing Committee on Automated Transit Systems (AP040).” Available at https://www.mytrb.org/CommitteeDetails.
aspx?CMTID=116. Accessed in March 2015.
U.S General Accounting Office. 1980. “Better justifications needed for automated
people mover demonstration projects.” Monograph, CED-80–98.
UITP. 2015. “Automation essentials.” Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/International_Association_of_Public_Transport. Accessed in March
2015.
United States Government Publishing Office. 2011. “Code of Federal Regulations.”
Available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title49-vol5/xml/CFR2011-title49-vol5-part393.xml. Accessed in January 2015.

REFERENCES

21

Yutong. 2015. “Yutong completes world’s first trial operation of unmanned
bus.”
Available
at
http://en.yutong.com/pressmedia/yutongnews/2015/
2015IBKCFbteUf.html. Accessed in October 2015.
Zheng, H., and S. Peeta. 2014. “Design of personal rapid transit networks for transitoriented development cities.” USDOT Region V Regional University Transportation Center Final Report.

CHAPTER 2

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

Compared to other transportation modes, such as commuter rail or bus, automated transit is a new kid on the block. The automated transit name has only
been used since the Transportation Research Board has formally adopted the
same phrase as the name for its AP040 Committee in 2012 (TRB, 2012). However, the concept of automated transit or automated people movers (APM)
may be traced back to the sixteenth century. Based on the respective development in terms of concept, technology, and applications around the world
as shown in Figure 2.1, automated transit development may be divided into
four stages, which are elaborated in this chapter:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Conceptual initiations: 1960s and prior
Pilot demonstrations: 1970s–1980s
Limited applications in confined environment: 1990s–2000s
Multipolar development: new millennium and beyond

2.1 CONCEPTUAL INITIATIONS: 1960s AND PRIOR
A romantic, colorful origin of automated transit may be traced back to
Salzburg, Austria, the birth place of music giant, Mozart. The early automated
Automated Transit: Planning, Operations, and Applications, First Edition. Rongfang (Rachel) Liu.
Copyright © 2017 by The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc. Published 2017 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

23

24

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
1970

1980
AAPM

FIGURE 2.1

1990
PRT

2000
APM

2010

Metro

Automated Transit Applications Worldwide Since the 1970s.

transit configuration in Salzburg was developed in the sixteenth century using
a system of water tanks, ropes, and gravity to move vehicles that carried
goods up a 625 feet hill with a 67% slope (Juster, 2013). The system is still
in use today, but with several modern upgrades. It may be a primitive format
of automated transportation as there was no driver in the container/vehicle,
but technically it should not be called automated transit or APM as it was
primarily used to transport goods.
Despite many versions of how automated transit began, the widely accepted
origin of modern automated transit, especially automated guideway transit
(AGT) has been documented definitively by Fichter (1964). After a brief
review of “metropolis centers” and their associated circulation challenges,
Fichter introduced the concept of “individualized automated transit,” that
is, an automated “small car” operating along “small exclusive traffic ways”
within street right-of-ways. With these descriptions and elaborate vehicle
control and network layout, a vivid idea of personal rapid transit (PRT) or
concept was born in the United States in the 1960s.
Simultaneously, many private citizens in America, such as Edward O.
Haltom, William Alden, and Lloyd Berggren, had conceived ideas or developed prototype “Monocab,” “StaRRcar,” and “Uniflo” vehicles (Anderson,
1996). Several elite universities including Cornell and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had embodied automated transit ideas in various design projects or research reports. Quite a few leading research and
technology institutions, such as Transportation Technology, Inc. by General
Motors, Military Product Group at Honeywell, Inc., and Jet Rail, had designed
and/or developed automated transit components or systems. Even some local

CONCEPTUAL INITIATIONS: 1960s AND PRIOR

25

government staff, such as Robert J. Bartell, Director of Planning for the City
of Hartford in Connecticut, had partaken in the development of PRT ideas
and connected its impact with urban development.
Looking around the world, you would not have found much initiation on
automated transit concept from the other countries in the early stages of automated transit development. The few automated transit activities in foreign
countries, such as “Cabtrack” in the United Kingdom, computer-controlled
vehicle system (CCVS) in Japan, “Cabinentaxi” in Germany, and “Aramis” in
French, were all developed in the late 1960s or early 1970s and directly or indirectly influenced by the initiations from the United States (Anderson, 1996).
It is not by accident that the automated transit concepts grew out of
American soil during the 1950s and 1960s as quite a few “catalysts” worked
perfectly during that period. First, the concept of automatic control, essential
to automated transit, had been firmly established by the early 1950s. Second,
the completion of the Apollo Moon Landing Program had freed up government funds and research capabilities and PRT had the potential and promise
to fill up the plate. Third, with the fast invasion of automobiles and disappearing streetcar services, some Americans just started to question the validity
of automobiles and their far-reaching impact on lifestyle, environment, and
society beyond.
The South Park Demonstration Project, “Skybus,” in Pittsburgh, PA, was
the first attempt in the United States to bring automated transit concept into
reality. As an alternative to overcrowding on the city’s streets, “Skybus” was
a fully automated, rubber-wheeled, electric vehicle that rode on a steel and
concrete guideway (Appleby, 2009). As the first automated rubber-tired transit application, the “Skybus” was capable of operating at 60-second headways
and a top speed of 50 mph. The “Skybus” vehicles had a capacity of approximate 100 passengers (Sproule, 2001). As demonstrated in Figure 2.2, people
waited in long lines during the Allegheny County Fair to ride the modern,
thrilling “Skybus.” Despite the primitive control and communication technology housed in a telephone booth, rescue vehicle converted from an out
of place farm tractor, and many other concerns and unanswered questions,
“Skybus” brought the first-hand experiences for more than 30,000 people,
who paid a 10-cents fare during the testing period.
The “Skybus” Phase I testing covered 21,000 vehicle miles and was widely
considered a success. Several years of testing and modifications proved the
automated transit technology reliable, the unique riding experience was attractive and comfortable. However, plagued by opposing attitudes from government agencies - strong support from the Allegheny Port Authority but equally
strong opposition from the city and county governments, “Skybus” eventually lost the support of Pennsylvania Governor and public funding. It was
abandoned in the early 1970s.

26

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

(e)

FIGURE 2.2
2010.

(a–e) “Skybus” in Pittsburg, PA in the 1960s. Source: Appleby, 2009 and Little,

PILOT DEMONSTRATIONS: 1970s–1980s

27

Looking back, some people may say that “Skybus” was ahead of its time
in many aspects. Others may say that the market was simply not ready.
However, when looking at the entire development process of the technology
or application, it is not difficult to conclude that the ill-fated “Skybus” served
a critical function by bringing the automated transit concept from paper to
concrete and steel and provided first-hand experiences for many believers
and doubters. Among those who visited “Skybus,” there was no shortage of
industry giants and technology pioneers. Mr. Walt Disney’s visit to “Skybus”
may be the precursor for many APM installations in Disney Theme Parks. Test
rides by executives from Tampa, Newark, and Seattle International Airport
played significant roles in their later adoption of airport automated people
mover (AAPM) technologies.

2.2 PILOT DEMONSTRATIONS: 1970s–1980s
Automated transit, especially AGT, made great strides starting in the 1970s
after many baby steps taken since the 1960s. If individual scholars and private
sectors had opened the door to automated transit possibilities, federal funded
pilot programs in the United States and other international locations created
giant momentum for AGT development.
Burdened by increasing transit operating deficits, traffic congestion, and
increasing air pollution problems, the federal government turned its hope
to the emerging technology, AGT, a future transportation promise. In 1971,
the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA), the predecessor of
the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today, funded four companies at
$1.5 million each to demonstrate its AGT development at a transportation
exposition, TRANSPO 72, held at Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC. As a direct result of TRANSPO 72, a few AGT applications were
acquired for airports and zoos but not urban transit systems.
Prior to the TRANSPO 72, UMTA had signed a contract with West
Virginia University in Morgantown to construct the first AGT application
(Schneider, 1993). Having selected the StaRRcar Technology developed by
Alden’s Self-Transit Systems, a small corporation, UMTA officials decided
to add “insurance” by using Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a NASA lab, as the
system manager; Boeing, the aircraft giant, as the vehicle manufacturer; and a
couple of large engineer firms to design and construct guideways, stations, and
other fixed facilities even though none of those companies had any experience
or sufficient understanding of the AGT concept.
Propelled by the national mentality that “we can do the difficult today and
the impossible tomorrow” that was largely developed immediately after the
Apollo Moon Landing, quite a few companies promised that it only took about

28

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

2 years to develop an urban demonstration project for AGT. The promises
matched well with a political process, that is, if the Morgantown AGT would
be ready by October 1972, the President could ride it ahead of election to
show case the great technology accomplishments by his administration. With
great fanfare to inaugurate the AGT, a new travel mode, no one was interested
in hearing the concerns for trial-and-errors of a new technology applications
or the slow grinding process of engineering.
The construction of the Morgantown group rapid transit (GRT) began in
1971 and the bulk of the construction was completed indeed 1 year later. However, the extensive testing took much longer so it was opened for passenger
service in 1975. As the very first AGT application around the world, Morgantown GRT not only demonstrated the feasibility of automated or driverless
transit applications, but also tested the core characteristics of PRT by incorporating bypassing station design in its intermediate stations as shown in
Figure 2.3.
According to Lyttle et al. (1986), the purpose of the Advanced Group
Rapid Transit (AGRT) Program was to develop an advanced AGT capable
of providing high passenger volumes, short waiting times, and high levels
of passenger service. The Morgantown GRT consisted of automated vehicles
operating on a single lane guideway at short headways with unmanned, offline stations. The pilot program focused on the critical technologies required
to safely command and control the movement of unmanned vehicles along
a guideway. However, the vehicles used in the Morgantown GRT, with a
capacity of 21 persons including both seated and standees, were much larger

FIGURE 2.3
Bell.

Morgantown GRT. Source: Bell, 2003. Reproduced with permission of Jon

PILOT DEMONSTRATIONS: 1970s–1980s

29

than the original PRT or “Podcars” design with four or five persons. The much
larger vehicles in turn required much wider and stronger guideways and other
related facilities. In retrospect, it is believed that the enlarged vehicles and
enforced guideways not only significantly increased the capital and operation
and maintenance costs but also fundamentally alter the characteristics of the
PRT application. Due to the larger vehicle size and small number of stations,
five including both terminals, Morgantown GRT had very limited opportunity
to test the direct travel from origin to destination with offline stations, the true
characteristics of PRT.
Riding high on the waves of AGT promises, UMTA announced its Downtown People Mover (DPM) Program in 1975 and sponsored a nationwide
competition among cities (General Accounting Office, 1980). The UMTA
DPM Program offered federal funds for the planning, design, and building of
AGT as part of the demonstration program. Motivated by the “free” money,
the response was almost overwhelming. In 1976, after receiving and reviewing 68 letters of interest and 35 full proposals and making on-site inspections
of the top 15 cities, the UMTA selected Los Angeles, St. Paul, Cleveland, and
Houston as candidates to develop DPM applications. As second-tier backup
candidates, Miami, Detroit, and Baltimore were selected to develop DPMs if
they could do so with existing grant commitments. Pressured by the House
of Representatives and the Senate Appropriations Conference Committee,
the UMTA included Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and St. Louis on the backup
candidate list.
After many rounds of debates and discussions, most of the DPM selectees
later withdrew from the program, but Miami, Detroit, and Jacksonville stayed
the course and inaugurated their AGT services in 1986, 1987, and 1989,
respectively. Figure 2.4 exhibits the AGT train operated in Jacksonville, FL,
under the DPM Pilot Program by UMTA.
Looking back, few would regard the UMTA’s DPM program as a “success.”
Among all the three cities that implemented DPMs, Miami was often criticized
for its higher initial unit costs. However, a recent examination (Cottrell, 2006)
indicated that its ridership and costs closely match the original forecast, as
shown in Table 2.1. The close match in ridership is usually accomplished after
the network was expanded to connect with other transit networks as originally
planned, but implemented at a later stage. Overall the DPM program in the
United States was only a brief chapter as there was no more DPM application
except those three pilot projects. A detailed assessment of those applications
is included in the later chapters of this book.
While DPM and PRT development has been riding the roller coaster of
novelty thrills, government support, and disappointing implementations in the
United States, AGT applications have quietly gained momentum overseas.
The initial concept of a fully automated, integrated transit system in Lille,

30

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

FIGURE 2.4
access.

Downtown People Mover in Jacksonville, FL. Source: Pineda, 1997. Open

France was conceived in 1971, almost at the same time that the UMTA initiated its DPM Program. Surprisingly, Lille’s vehicle automated léger (VAL)
system has run at a profit since 1989. Despite vandalism and concerns over
personal safety, ridership figures remain healthy.
The construction for the Lille Metro started in 1978, and the first line
was inaugurated in 1983 (Landor Publishing Limited, 1992). When the entire
13.5 kilometers of Lille metro line 1 was opened in 1985, the driverless transit
TABLE 2.1

Highlights of Downtown People Mover Systems

Name
Location
Manufacturer
Operator

Year opened/
expanded
Guideway
length (miles)
Number of
stations
Fare ($)
2008 Ridership
(million)

Miami Metro
Mover
Miami, FL
AEG
Westinghouse
Miami-Dade
Transit

Detroit People
Mover
Detroit, MI
YTDC Bombardier

1986/1994

Detroit
Transportation
Corporation
1987

Jacksonville
Skyway
Jacksonville, FL
MATRA and
Bombardier
Jacksonville
Transportation
Authority
1989/1999

4.4

2.9

2.5

21

13

3

Free
8.8

$ 0.75
2.3

$ 0.5/Free∗
0.5

Source: Sproule and Leder, 2013. Updated by author, 2015.

PILOT DEMONSTRATIONS: 1970s–1980s

Correspondance avec le réseau « Grandes Lignes » de la SNCF
Correspondance avec le réseau « TER »
T Correspondance avec le ligne de tramway Lille — Tourcoing
R Correspondance avec le ligne de tramway Lille — Roubaix

31

CH Dron
Bourgogne
Pont de Neuville
Phalempins

T

2

Colbert
Tourcoing
Centre
Tourcoing
Sébastopol
Carliers
Mercure

Alsace
Gare
Jean-Lebas
Eurotéléport
Roubaix
R
Grand-Place
Épeule
Roubaix
Montesquieu
Charles-de-Gaulle
Croix
Mairie
Croix
Centre

Wasquehal
Hôtel de Ville

R

En

fan

ts

Wasquehal
Pavé de Lille
érie
up
t-S

nd

Po
n

iso
Ma

s
on
-M
de ns
o s
M ar t
S

Bo
urg

ie-

Caulier

Wazemmes

rte
Po

1 km

CHR
Oscar Lambret
CHR
B Calmette

Gambetta

Les Prés

Fort de Mons

Mairie
Fives
de Lille
Marbrerie
Lille
Lezennes
Grand-Palais
Hellemmes

es
nn
cie
len
Va
de
r te
i
ua
Po
Do
de
r te
Po
s
rra
d’A
r te
tes
Po
os
sP
de

Montebello

air

Cormontaigne

M

Port de Lille

e

s
re

nd

Bois-Blancs

Rihour
République
Beaux-Arts

R

op
ur

R

Lomme
Lambersart
Canteleu

-E

T

la

-F

lle

Li

lle

Li

re

2

T

e
ric in
au is
-M vo
int elle
Sa P

re

Ga

Mit
ter
ie

es

ur

Jean-Jaurès
Ga

Saint-Philibert

Pont de Bois

1

Villeneuve-d’Ascq
Hôtel-de-Ville

Triolo
Cité Scientifique
4 Cantons

FIGURE 2.5 VAL Automated Transit Network in Lille, France. Source: info@mapametro.com, 2010. Public domain.

system linked 18 stations and operated between 5 a.m. and midnight with
1.5- to 4-minute headways. Today, the DLM in Lille covers an impressive
60 stations, expanding from Lille north toward the border of Belgium, as
shown in Figure 2.5.
Not coincidentally, a full AGT application was initiated by our northern neighbor in Vancouver, Canada, in the mid-1980s. The “SkyTrain” in
Vancouver has three branch lines at the end of 2009: the Expo, Millennium, and Canada lines. The Expo line opened in late 1985 in time for the
Expo 86 World’s Fair (Castells, 2011); the Millennium line opened in 2002;
and the latest, the Canada line, opened in 2009 just in time for the 2010
Winter Olympics. Together, the three branches of “SkyTrain” cover almost
60 miles of track that connects nearly 50 stations. It provides easy and convenient access to Vancouver International Airport and two international border

32

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

FIGURE 2.6
domain.

“Skytrain” in Vancouver, Canada. Source: Urban Rail Net, 2009. Public

crossings. Although most of the system is elevated, hence the name ”SkyTrain,” it runs as a subway through downtown Vancouver and a short stretch
in New Westminster, as shown in Figure 2.6.
2.3 APPLICATIONS IN CONFINED
ENVIRONMENTS: 1990s–2000s
As the AGT demonstration projects in the urban area faced their continuous
criticism due to high cost, low ridership, and most importantly unmet expectations, AGT applications in various airports, major activity centers (MAC),
and private institutions, such as amusement parks, hospitals, and museums,
have been gaining steam quietly and successfully.
Although the birth of APM occurred in the 1970s, a blossom period
emerged since the 1990s when a large number of airport APM applications
around the world were established. As shown in Figure 2.7, after a long time
period with only a couple of APM applications during the 1970s and 1980s,
an increasing number of them have been installed since 1990 and the new
millennium.
According to Lea + Elliott (2010), the advent of the U.S. Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 drove airport passenger volumes much higher, which in
turn demanded more or larger airport terminal facilities. The emergence of
discount airlines in the early 1980s not only fueled the growth of air travel,

APPLICATIONS IN CONFINED ENVIRONMENTS: 1990s–2000s

33

60
50
40
30
20
10

FIGURE 2.7

2013

2011

2009

2007

2005

2003

2001

1999

1997

1995

1993

1991

1985

1983

1981

1979

1977

1975

1973

1971

0

Accumulated APM Applications in Airport. Data from Fabian, 2014.

but also changed the airline service from point-to-point to hub-and-spoke,
which created the need for transfers between airport terminals, especially
in large, hub airports. Given the tight foot print of airport terminals and
complexity of airport operations, the much improved APM technology with
integrated circuits controlling smaller vehicles along compact and light
weight guideways lent itself well to connect air passengers between terminals
or navigate large airports.
The new expansion of Tampa International Airport in the 1960s designed
the central processing facility surrounded on all sides by satellite concourses
housing the aircraft gates. Locating the parking garages adjacent to the central
processing facility allowed easy access for passengers and also pushed the
satellite concourse further from the central processing facility. The distances
between various concourses, parking garages, and central processing facility can easily exceed 600 feet, a self-imposed limit for passenger walking
distances by the Tampa International Airport executives and also a widely
accepted threshold for passenger walking especially when carrying luggage.
All of the conventional modes are rejected based on various reasons: moving walkways due to the limited distance coverage and limited throughput,
standard light or heavy rail due to their longer headways, large tunnels or
elevated track structure, and bus due to multiple steps in boarding and alighting the vehicles and potential interference with aircraft taxi lanes. The airport
officials naturally turned their attention to the APM shuttle for Tampa International Airport. Fresh from their memories of the demonstration ride on
the “Skybus” in Pittsburgh, PA, the Tampa International Airport executives

34

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

FIGURE 2.8 An Early APM Vehicle in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Reproduced
with permission of DFW Airport Board.

offered a home for the APM technology developed by Westinghouse in sunny
Florida. Figure 2.8 demonstrates one of the early airport APM trains in DFW
International Airport. Diagonally across America, the offspring of Westinghouse APM technology found another home in Seattle-Tacoma International
Airport outside Seattle, Washington.
After the pioneering development at Tampa and Seattle International
Airport, the Airport APM applications flourished in airports around the globe.
From the large airside APM in Capital International Airport in Beijing, China
(2008), to the planned El Dorado Columbia International Airport APM, there
are almost 60 APM applications operating in airports across all five continents
(Trans.21, 2014; Little, 2010; Liu and Huang, 2010) as shown in Figure 2.9.
At the same time, various private institutions, such as amusement parks,
museums, or hospitals, also host a number of APM applications. According
to a recent tally (Liu and Huang, 2010), about one third of people mover
applications are located in private institutions as exhibited in Figure 2.10.
While there are a large number of institutional AGT applications around the
world, there is little information on the historical background owing to the
small scale and private nature of the projects; therefore, this book focuses on
the development of public or government-funded AGT applications.
Around the new millennium, another unique form of automated transit
technology, the monorail, also found its incarnation in various locations. As

FIGURE 2.9

APM Applications in Airports Worldwide. Source: Little, 2010; Liu and Huang, 2010; and Trans.21, 2014.

36

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

Transit
33%

Airport
32%

Institution
35%

FIGURE 2.10

Distribution of APM Applications. Source: Liu and Huang, 2010.

exhibited in Figure 2.11, Kuala Lumpur Monorail and Las Vegas Monorail
were inaugurated in 1996 and 2004 respectively. Despite the differences in
names and appearances, monorail is considered as a member of the AGT
family as defined in last chapter. Its operation and safety records have been
collected and included in the National Transit Database (NTD) with other
automated transit applications in the United States (Federal Transit Administration, 2012).

2.4 MULTIPOLAR DEVELOPMENT: NEW MILLENNIUM
AND BEYOND
As medium capacity APM shuttles and circulators have gradually populated
international airports around the world, their counterparts in the large and very
small end of capacity spectrum, namely driverless metro (DLM) and PRT have
also found their applications in various urban environments and airports.
2.4.1 Exponential Growth of Driverless Metros
The early DLM applications, such as VAL in Lille French; “Skytrain” in
Vancouver, Canada; and Kelang Jaya Line in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, had
created a scattered geographic pattern and thin timeline of automated transit
implementations. But the rapid succession of DLM applications around and
after the new millennium has certainly filled the voids quickly. For example, in addition to European cities—such as Copenhagen, Denmark (2002);
Oeira, Portugal (2004); Turin, Italy (2006); Barcelona, Spain—quite a few

MULTIPOLAR DEVELOPMENT: NEW MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND

37

(a) Kuala Lumpur Monorail

(b) Las Vegas Monorail

FIGURE 2.11 Monorail: Another Incarnation of Automated Transit Technology. Source:
Pixabay. Creative Commons CC0.

large cities in various Asia and South America countries have jumped onto the
DLM bandwagon. As demonstrated in Figure 2.12, DLM is no longer confined
to Western Europe and Japan. Since the new millennium, quite a few international cities—such as Ankara, Turkey; Bangkok, Thailand; Guangzhou,
China; and Sao Paulo, Brazil—have all implemented DLM as part of their
respective public transportation systems.

38

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

FIGURE 2.12 DLM Applications Around the World. Source: Hernandez, 2014. Reproduced
with permission of Russell Publishing Limited.

If the very early pioneer of automated transit technology in VAL is considered a lonely experiment with primitive technology, the continuous implementation of DLMs in various French cities such as Lyon (1991), Toulouse
(1993), and Paris (1998) has certainly solidified the pioneer position of France
in embracing innovation, technology, and converting the most advanced technologies into practical solutions. If there is any doubt about the potential of
automated transit and its application in a truly dense urban area or high frequency operation systems, the conversion of Paris Metro No. 1 line, the oldest
and second busiest metro line in Paris, from manual operation to driverless in
2011 should have vaporized all those doubts.
As one of the 16 lines that Paris Metro is composed of, the 16.5 kilometer
No. 1 line connects La Defense/Grand Arche and Chateau de Vincennes
stations, as shown in Figure 2.13. Passing through the heart of the city, Paris
Metro No. 1 line is an important east-west transportation route. It transported
213 million travelers since 2008, which equals an average 725,000 riders
per day.
It is a pity that there was no automated transit application in the United
States since the DPM pilot program in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the
recent development in Automated Buses certainly gives us hope: both AC
transit in the Bay Area and Eugene, OR have tested level II automated buses
equipped with precision docking and lane following features. It is important
for transit agencies to test and improve early levels of vehicle automations
even though the full automation or automated buses may be far into the future.

MULTIPOLAR DEVELOPMENT: NEW MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND

FIGURE 2.13

39

Paris Metro No. 1 line. Source: Pinpin, 2007. Public domain.

On the other hand, it might be puzzling as why there was no AGT application in the United States even though the technology is mature and there are
many successful applications in Europe and Asia. Besides the often criticized
UMTA pilot program, the author will also explore other factors, such as transit use in general, unions oppositions, safety oversight, and their impact on
automated transit applications in the following chapters.
2.4.2 Steady Expansion of APM Systems
The airport APM applications have started to plateau after its rapid growth
period during the last two decades. There will still be a few airport APM applications each year while many large and medium-size airports in Asia, South
America, and Africa are still in the process of completing and improving their
airport environment. However, the overall pace of airport APM installations
has become slower since 2010. As shown in Figure 2.14, there was no airport
APM application completed in the year 2010, neither in 2013 while there
were only two completions in 2014.
Looking through the pipelines of airport expansion or improvement, we
did not find a large number of airport APMs in the existing airport plans.
However, there are potential expansion territories for airport APMs in developing countries, such as China, India, and Brazil. As the economic conditions
have been improving in those countries or regions, travel demand and distance
increases, more new airports need to be developed, existing airports may be
expanded, or existing conditions of the airport will be improved via APM
applications.
2.4.3 Emergence of PRT Applications
As documented in the last chapter, PRT was the prototype conceived by
the early pioneers of automated transit development since the 1960s. Fichter

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HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

6
5
4
3
2
1

FIGURE 2.14

2013

2011

2009

2007

2005

2003

2001

1999

1997

1995

1993

1991

1985

1983

1981

1979

1977

1975

1973

1971

0

Airport APM Applications Inaugurated Each Year. Source: Trans.21, 2014.

conceptualized the small vehicle, “Veyar,” and its extensive network in an
urban environment in the 1960s. UMTA attempted the PRT concept in the
1970s in Morgantown, WV, but ended up with a GRT application since it
utilizes much larger vehicles, a simpler network, and rarely executed direct
origin to destination operations (Office of Technology Assessment, 1975).
Despite many criticism and negative publicity, the hybrid Morgantown GRT
has been chugging along during the past four decades and more.
It is easy to blame the high cost and primal technology for the isolated
application of the Morgantown GRT or the three DPM applications in the
United States, but it is hard for the general public or decision makers to
pinpoint the critical factors that caused the failure of such demonstration
effort. A few academia and true believers of PRT have been trying hard to
carry the PRT torch forward. For example, one of the key members of the
Economics Evaluation Panel of Automated Guideway Transit in the 1970s
(Office of Technology Assessment, 1975), Dr. Edward Anderson, voiced
his belief that “personal rapid transit is so promising, and the need for it
so imperative, that a significant portion of the federal transit R&D should
concentrate on bringing the technology and planning methodology to fruition
within the shortest practical time consistent with good manage practice.” Dr.
Anderson believed that the PRT concept is feasible technologically despite
the doubts from other panel members about the possibility of developing
dependable, economically feasible PRT within the foreseeable future.
Supported by many believers of PRT and funded by the US DOT research
grants, Dr. Anderson organized three International PRT conferences in 1971,

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41

1973, and 1975. Each conference published respective proceedings that
addressed a wide range of issues, progresses, and potentials related to
PRT. After a prolonged absence of PRT interests and development potentials, another conference series, “Podcar City Conference,” was initiated in
Uppsala, Sweden, in 2007. The conference location has alternated between
Europe and America every year and is in its ninth year in 2015 (Podcar City,
2015).
Dr. Anderson even secured the support of his home institution, University
of Minnesota, and established a company, Taxi 2000, to explore the potential
for implementing PRT in the late 1980 and early 1990s. Having worked with a
number of large engineering firms, such as Stone and Webster and Raytheon,
Taxi 2000 was selected by Chicago Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to
develop a PRT application. Almost identical to the problems encountered
in the Morgantown GRT, Raytheon, another engineering company that converted from defense contractor, had designed a much heavier vehicle, which
demanded a guideway twice as wide and deep compared to the original
version. The much exaggerated design would certainly have wiped out any
promises of small vehicles and resulted in exponential cost increases. As
expected, the Chicago RTA has consequently backed out from funding PRT.
Many similar locations, such as Cincinnati, OH (1996); New Jersey (2007);
Ithaca, NY (2010); and San Jose, CA (2012), have evaluated the viability of
PRT in various urban, regional, and even state-wide applications. Most of the
studies gathered information on technology suppliers and related literature
and applications, some of them estimated ridership, capital, and/or operation
and maintenance costs. Few had advanced to stages of design like Chicago
did and none had reached procurement stage.
Similar to the roller-coaster rides of its counterparts in America, many
individuals and academic institutions in Europe have carried out their PRT
research in isolated locations with or without government support. One particular bright spot is Ultra—urban light transit—a PRT system founded and
developed by Dr. Martin Lowson and his designing team. After winning UK
National Endowment for Science, Technology and the ARTs (NESTA) funding twice, the Ultra team has developed testing tracks in Cardiff and studied
application potential for various European locations.
As the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and Europe and the third
busiest airport in the world, London Heathrow Airport (LHR) has five terminals and covers almost five square miles in Western London. In 2005, British
Airport Authority (BAA), the operator of Heathrow International Airport,
committed to the use of Ultra PRT to provide key connectivity between the
new Terminal 5 and a business car park. Given the complex terrain and airport
infrastructure—traversing two rivers, seven roads, and a green belt area, the
Ultra PRT has to negotiate aircraft surfaces and bridge in-ground services

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HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

FIGURE 2.15 Ultra Podcar in Heathrow International Airport in London. Source: Lowson,
2010. Public domain.

while conforming to the T5 architecture, which provided a challenging but
converted niche for PRT application (Lowson, 2010).
Having collaborated with Arup Inc., a traditional consulting engineering
firm, and BAA, Ultra Global Inc. completed the installation of Ultra PRT
and inaugurated its service in May 2011 after extensive testing. As the first
commercially operational PRT application, the Ultra podcars carry 800 passengers per day as a vital link between T5 business Car Park and the airport
terminal. As exhibited in Figure 2.15, there are 21 vehicles running along a
3.8-kilometer one-way guideway, which is dotted by three stations—two in
the T5 Business Car Park and one at Terminal 5. In May 2013, the Ultra in
Heathrow Airport celebrated a milestone, one million autonomously driven
miles (Ultra, 2014).
During the same period, two more PRT applications took place in different
Continents, one in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi (Graaf, 2011) and another in
Suncheon Bay, South Korea (2014). The five-station PRT with 10 podcars
in Masdar City is an urban transit application meant to serve passengers in
a carbon neutral, pedestrian-friendly city, where all fossil fuel vehicles are
banned. The “Skycube” in Suncheon Bay is more of a shuttle connecting the
visitor’s center and the bird reserve.

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43

As pointed out by Furman (2014), all three PRT applications in Heathrow,
Masdar City, and Suncheon are essentially shuttles and embody PRT functionality to a rather limited extent. There is still a long way to go to reach
a network system that will test, prove, or realize the full potential of PRT
applications. It seems that the PRT development is currently stuck between a
rock and a hard place: there is not enough market interest for a full-fledged
system to be implemented while no agency is willing to procure a full PRT
system since there is not a proven application.
Will PRT be the next dominating transportation mode of the century? While
quite a few dominant “authority figures” were quick to dismiss the PRT idea
as “inherently unsound,” it might be worthwhile to pause and think since the
idea resurges every two decades or so, and there are currently almost two
million entries on the Internet that are directly related to PRT.
With an open mind and out-of-the-box vision, some transportation professionals believe that for PRT to become a reality, it may require a revolution
in the way we live and travel. That is, PRT may not be feasible if highways
and private automobiles continue to be our anchor mode of transportation
in the near future. On the other hand, since our society has already spent
billions of dollars on building millions of miles of roads and bridges in the
past century and has not complained about the expenses, but proudly claimed
them as civilization and engineering wonders, it may just be possible to layer
PRT guideways on top of the existing roadway networks and replace private
automobiles with automated PRT pods.
Others who seek more progressive solutions believe that PRT is capable
of adapting to existing living and working patterns, whereas line-haul transit
is only efficient in corridor developments. In a large number of metropolitan
areas around the world, urban roads are already congested, and land availability and high costs forbid any road expansions. With a much smaller footprint
and a fraction of life-cycle costs of conventional transit such as light rail transit (LRT), subway, or commuter rail, PRT may be able to combine the benefits
of both private automobiles and public transit by providing a no-wait, wellconnected, and origin-to-destination one-seat ride for most urban dwellers.
Practical engineers and rational planners understand that a single mode
does not solve all the urban transportation problems; every mode has a place
in the mobility spectrum. The applicability is influenced by a variety of
factors, such as changing technology, economic conditions, urban development patterns, and social acceptance at particular times. Any entity that is
contemplating the idea of PRT or any other form of emerging technologies
must undertake systematic research of the respective technology itself and its
advantages and disadvantages.
A comparison must be made with other modes, such as GRT, APM, LRT,
or automobile, as well as the costs and benefits to users and society at large.

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An appropriate viability evaluation, however; should not be confined to
technology alone. Market analyses, rider preferences such as mode split
given all the travel choices, and cost-benefit analysis also should be part
of the viability analysis. Another important aspect of nurturing a technology
into fruition is the policy framework that will facilitate its implementation.
Potential applications of the technology, engineering specifications, procedural implications, and marketing segmentation should all be examined.
REFERENCES
Anderson, J. M., et al. 2014. “Autonomous Vehicle Technology: a guide for policymakers.” Available at http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR443-2.html.
Accessed in March 2015.
Anderson, J. E. 1996. Some lessons from the history of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT),
1996. Available at https://faculty.washington.edu/jbs/itrans/history.htm. Accessed
in June 2015.
Appleby, E. 2009. “My brief history with Skybus.” Available at http://www.
brooklineconnection.com/history/Facts/Skybus.html#bm_ed. Accessed in March
2015.
Bauerlein, D. 2013. “JTA will keep skyway free for riders another year.” The
Flroida Times Union, August 29, 2013. Available at http://jacksonville.com/news/
metro/2013-08-29/story/jta-will-keep-skyway-free-riders-another-year. Accessed
in December 2015.
Bell, J. 2003. “Morgantown, West Virginia Personal Rapid Transit (PRT).” Available
at http://www.jtbell.net/transit/Morgantown/. Accessed in April 2015.
Castells, R. 2011. “Automated metro operation: greater capacity and safer, more
efficient transport.” Public Transport Inter