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Traffic Solutions: Councilman Studying Elevated Podcar System

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While admitting it's a "pie in the sky" idea and only in the exploratory phase, City Councilman Paul Koretz is looking into an above-ground personalized rapid transit system for the city. This summer, he formed a small task force to study the system, which is currently being used at Heathrow Airport, and consists of pods traveling on a track. "We’re talking either a track or hanging maglev, essentially units that fit 2-4 people, and you program in your destination," said Koretz, describing the idea yesterday at a Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum luncheon at the Wilshire Grand. "[The pods] just take you to your destination, and there’s no stopping, except when you arrive at your location.”

Yes, listening to him speak blew our minds, so this morning we called up Marty Taft, who is heading up the three-person task force (which sounds fairly casual in a nature). "From the valley, along the 405, all the way to the LAX, that would be the first backbone route," said Taft, a former engineer for Aerojet Electrosystems. "And then there would be loops alongside that would allow people from places like Century City to use it."

Koretz said that if he could get approvals for a pilot line, he probably seek to make Sherman Oaks to Westwood to Century City the direction of the pilot program. And the councilman seemed prepared to accept that this proposal may never happen. “I am at least studying it," he said. "Whether it comes to fruition, it’s way too early in the process.”

Such technology has been considered in Los Angeles on previous occasions, and an April 2, 1972 Los Angeles Times story covered a similar proposal.

Via the Los Angeles Times article:

'Based on the “corridor concept” of the Southern California Rapid Transit District (RTD), with service radiating from a downtown “hub” to a peripheral area, one monorail line begins in the Lawndale-International Airport area and loops through Los Angeles then back near the Harbor Freeway to the Lawndale terminus. Cars travel one way in loops.

Along the elevated rail are stations increasing in number to the Wilshire District and downtown Los Angeles. Traveling on the rail are small four to six passenger square, buglike cars which are the heart of the concept."

And later in the article:

Los Angeles city officials who have seen the Aerospace system in early stages were impressed by several points. A ‘personal” system, they say, appeals to the well-known independence of the Los Angeles driver who has refused, at least to date, to take buses or trains to his bosom.

They also point out that a personal system, where the passengers travel alone or with friends or family is far safer than, for instance, the New York subway system where muggings and robbery on the trains are common.”

· Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) or Personal Automated Transport (PAT) Quicklinks [Official Site]