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Are Elevated Pods the Answer to Atlanta's Traffic Ills?

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Are Atlantans who gripe about the limited reach of MARTA trains aiming to low? Should we focus our ambitions higher, literally, to a space-age rapid transit system that whisks people above Atlanta in a quiet, sustainable state of commuter bliss? A company called skyTran thinks so. They've put out a short video, applicable to any city, which explains the "patented, high-speed, low-cost, elevated Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system" and how it would transform traffic-clogged cities into green utopias. A grandfatherly narrator explains the perils of vehicle commuting — it only begets more nasty vehicle commuting, and so forth — and then stresses how this alternative is available right now, so Atlantans should "tell your elected representatives that there is a better way to commute." In a prepared statement, skyTran CEO Jerry Sanders says the private, two-person vehicles (pods?) are so quiet "you'll have to look out the window to realize you are in motion." When you stop laughing, consider that other cities are legitimately pursuing this as a commuting alternative.

Officials say the space-age rapid transit system will debut in Tel Aviv, once a sort of test track is completed at the campus of an aerospace company in Israel. It'll take $80 million and about two years to build the initial phase in Tel Aviv, with construction tentatively scheduled to begin in late 2016. Riding the skyTran "guideway" will cost about $5 for individual tickets. Other skyTran routes are undergoing "advanced planning" in Kerala, India; Toulouse, France and San Francisco.

With its connections to NASA, skyTran has high hopes of revolutionizing public transportation and the concept of both urban and suburban commuting. (Two people at a time!) The computer-controlled "jet-like" vehicles will employ passive Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) technology, just like the Braves train that never was. The logistical complications of making a system like this successful in Atlanta are massive, but the concept is tasty food for thought.

· skyTran [Website]