The Fear Culture and PRT
Contributed by Anonymous on: Wednesday 05 May @ 15:08:51
I was excited to see the topic of Ken Avidor's Roadkill Bill cartoon strip in the April 23rd  edition of the Pulse. I am a frequent reader and fan of the strip and its social advocacy, but feel that comment is necessary on this particular strip. The concerns he pointed out of a PRT transit system have been raised by others in the past.
I share his unease with promoting the system based on American's fear of strangers. What I feel I need to comment on is his inconsistent position on this aspect of the American consciousness.
In one frame he criticizes the fear-based marketing that has become so dominant in the corporate media and then, within the short space of a cartoon strip, he proceeds to press those same highly sensitized buttons by declaring PRT a virtual bomb delivery system for terrorists.
Maybe its because I personally know the people who have worked for 30+ years to develop this concept, but even my level of suspicion of authority wouldn't lead me to imply that the auto industry was behind this. I guess the old history of the demise of rail-based transit at the hands of the automotive industry is always a compelling topic for a talented social critic like Mr Avidor.
The public safety issues in any public transit system are high priorities for any engineer and there are definitely issues that are unique to PRT that must be addressed. However, your characterization that PRT would be inherently less safe that any other public vehicle or space are completely unfounded.
For example, what safeguards are in place to prevent someone from placing a bomb on the subway train and then stepping off? It is only our familiarity with the social behavior around current systems that gives us more confidence in their safety.
As we continue to develop functional PRT demonstration systems, we intend to pay close attention to the social response of the public and precisely those safety concerns which you have raised. Public safety is a fundamental requirement for public transit and we intend to get it right.
Solving today's transit problems is complex and the fear of the unknown should not prevent us from moving forward in implementation of a 21st century transit solution rather than limiting ourselves only to 19th century technologies because they are familiar. Please see the PRT website http://www.taxi2000.com for much more discussion and information about this exciting transit solution.
Discern Engineering (design engineer of the prototype PRT cabin)