Friday, June 29, 2012

Validation of our views on Masdar PRT plan error

The backpedaling typical of massive capital projects continues.

A recent Fast Company state-of-the-effort article on Masdar City includes these conclusions by project managing director Dr. Sultan Al Jaber about the city's 12-pod Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), scaled back from a huge citywide pod fleet --
"We’re not in any way saying the PRT solution will not be a viable solution going forward. Based on our lessons and experience, the development of PRT technology is going to take a little longer than we originally anticipated..." -Fast Company

Al Jaber is putting a brave face on the conclusions we reached after observing international media joyriding on the Masdar PRT at the 2011 World Future Energy Summit a year and a half ago:
"Gunther and The Australian both trace scaleback of the Masdar PRT network to cancelation of the citywide podium (platform), containing the 'undercroft,' due to the global financial crisis. Since the PRT runs inside the undercroft, the undercroft is effectively the PRT guideway. Masdar's designers were unwittingly responsible for the most expensive PRT guideway ever planned." -PRT NewsCenter, 1-19-2011
Our sources with 2getthere of The Netherlands, the manufacturer of the Masdar PRT, now confirm that analysis: "the architectural solution selected for Masdar, including the creation of an Undercroft dimensioned for the full build-out of the city and the luxurious stations, has increased the costs of the system substantially."

In other words, had Masdar designer Lord Foster chosen to stick with the typical PRT configuration (above ground elevated guideway and stations either standalone or built into building second floors) instead of an elaborate underground transit zone, the PRT's pilot phase could have been brought in at a low enough cost to make citywide implementation attractive sooner rather than later.

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