Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A brief look at 'International Personal Express Rapid Transit'

©MMXIII The PRT NewsCenter

Part I

People who follow developments in advanced transit may have noticed and wondered about 'International Personal Express Rapid Transit' (IPERT).

Recently the NewsCenter (wearing our GetThereFast.org webmaster hat) was contacted by a person identifying himself as Ivan Workman. Workman said he was interested in hiring the creator of the GetThereFast.org "Better Campus" video to perform similar work for his PRT effort, IPERT. Workman's email ended with the following passage, which cried out for further information:
IPERT's PRT system is based on the only operational Maglev PRT system (since 2004) that has been built and operated successfully, profitably, and large enough to transport people and freight for a city covering 12 square miles and a population of 200,000 people at the Los Alamos Nuclear Weapons Laboratory in New Mexico, which was developed by IPERT's team in conjunction with the Army Corp of Engineers. IPERT has 5 patents for this technology.

We wrote back, explaining that the person who made the video is no longer available to do such work (a sad story that need not be visited here). We identified ourselves as also being editor of the PRT NewsCenter, and asked Workman for background and details on IPERT, as well as photos and video of the system.

Workman sent a second, longer email in response, excerpted below:

2nd Workman EmailNewsCenter comment
Well, the PRT system was recently declassified by the military in the last year and very few have heard of the system, which my brother and I are the inventors and patent holders for the technology and worked in conjunction with the Army Corp of Engineers. Due to being on a military installation, we were not allowed to take pictures or film the system working.We are in talks with investors for funding and building the first working system in a public area in So. California. More information is below on IPERT and about the Maglev PRT system that we are trying to commercialize. • If it is declassified now, why not go there and take photos and video? If a picture is worth a thousand words, video would be worth millions in startup capital.

• Why can't transportation and magnetic levitation patents be found registered to any individual inventors named Workman?
My partner is Roger Freely and he is my Co-President of International Personal Express Rapid Transit (IPERT for short). We are a transportation company that is working on solving the world's congestion problem once and for all. Our company has been working on a system called Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) which has been around for a number of years. What sets us apart from the rest? Magnet Levitation or MagLev.

From my partner's viewpoint on the PRT system:
[Freely now writing:] Allow me to take a couple of minutes and explain how I got involved with this venture. I was in the military and was asked by President Bush to work on a project that would help to solve a serious evacuation problem. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2003 the freeways could not handle the thousands of vehicles that needed to escape before the storm hit. Thus many people died because of the traffic jams and flooding that happened. My team including the Army Corps of Engineers and I were told to set up an automatic system where-by people could get into a vehicle, simply hit a computer button with a destination and off they would go. Arriving safe and sound.

We decided on Los Alamos Nuclear Labs in New Mexico and started work. It started in 2003 and opened for riders on 5-1-2004 at a cost of $144 Million. This was a 12 mile system and had 14 stations. It was elevated at 21 feet and was powered off the city electric grid by a waste to power system which I will explain next. The way we did the test was to require all employees to leave their car at the administration building and ride the PRT system to their office, conference rooms and cafe or walk. I was surprised when the system paid for itself in about 3 years with the riders paying about 2.50 per ride.
• Everyone remembers that Hurricane Katrina happened in 2005, right? If not, it can be looked up in books and even on the Internet. This throws off IPERT's development timeline just a wee bit. 5-1-2004 is one year and 3 months before Katrina made landfall in Florida (Aug. 25, 2005) and Louisiana (Aug. 29, 2005).

• In 2006 the administration building at Los Alamos was replaced with a new one, the "National Security Sciences Building." Maybe all 12 miles of IPERT had to be torn down for the construction? Oh, but then it would only have been in operation for two years.

• Does anyone believe that you could require employees to park their cars at the admin building and pay $2.50 to ride a secret shuttle, for "about 3 years," yet no word of the shuttle ever leaked to the public?

• The name of the facility is the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), not "Los Alamos Nuclear Weapons Laboratory" or "Los Alamos Nuclear Labs."

There are some things which can be confirmed about IPERT:
An interesting thing about Workman's LinkedIn resume -- his work experience prior to constructing IPERT at LANL (not included or even alluded to in his resume's chronology) was a) Boy Scout shop sales clerk, b) clerk at Foto Hall camera store, c) assistant regional manager at LA & Orange County McDonald's. According to his resume, during 2003 and 2004 Workman was an electric vehicle technician at Southern California Edison, and an officer of an EV association. No mention is made of a big-deal collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Roger Freely

Following the second email excerpted above, Workman stopped responding to NewsCenter's requests for information and clarification. Therefore we have not been able to obtain contact information with which to communicate with Roger Freely about his role in IPERT.

Freely's LinkedIn page identifies him as Chairman of Western States Management Group and owner of 'Freely Press.' The only professional experience he lists is in the hospitality industry from 1994 to 1999; there is a gap for 1999-2004. No military service is mentioned.

Something Freely did in 2004 that can be confirmed: he published "California Golden Museums & Historical Places 2005-2007."

Western States Management Group is not registered in California as a business entity.

A Final Word

The NewsCenter asked a Los Alamos National Laboratory public information contact about the existence of a maglev transit system. She replied she has not seen such a thing there, and she has been at LANL since 1996. Her exact reaction was "Wow, 12 miles [of] track and 14 stations? We'd see that from Google Earth, wouldn't we?" And we can't.*

Note on some of the links: "mega.co.nz" is the location of our Cloud server. Download with confidence.

Update 1
* Notice the crescent-like National Security Sciences Building, opened in 2006. Google's aerial photos cannot be said to pre-date IPERT's claimed 2004 opening.

Update 2
The expected Update has reached a length that would be better suited to its own separate post. Go to Part II now.

Update 3 - Just Add Hominem and Boil (12/9/13)

Ivan Workman publicly replied to this two part (so far) series, posting on December 8 a series of seven messages in the Transport-Innovators group at Google Groups. They are pretty wordy for someone so concerned with nondisclosure ("IPERT Part II," Dec. 7, 2013).

There are several passages worth noting for entertainment purposes:
  • Workman makes several personal attacks, against specific persons and untrusting members of the T-I group in general. An attack on leading PRT thinker Ed Anderson verges on libelous. Workman names this reporter, saying I "doesn't understand how difficult it is to get funding for any transportation system." Right. I've only been studying PRT as public policy since the late 80s, and reporting PRT news for the last 13 years.
you guys like nothing better to do than to do a smear campaign on every other startup PRT firm, from what I have heard from several other startup PRT firms.
He must have talked to Maglev Movers ("Dubious Eco-Promoter," TWIP, 12/19/2011).
  • This is Workman's new justification for claiming a 2004 start of IPERT service at Los Alamos can be in response to Hurricane Katrina:
...that date is correct because the US Air Force has their own weather station that reports to all the other government agency weather stations and had Hurricane Katrina on their radar since it started forming in 2004 in the mid-Atlantic as it was predicated [sic] to be a 100 year storm. The Maglev PRT system came online a few days after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana.
Freely's original story was that Katrina hit in 2003. If the Air Force really could forecast Katrina a year early in 2004, who told them in 2003 to have IPERT ready in 2004?

Knabb, Rick, "Birth of a hurricane: Where they come from," The Weather Channel, 2011.
Ferro, Shaunacy, "Why it's so hard to predict hurricanes," Popular Science, 2013.
  • No trace of IPERT now exists at Los Alamos because of government secrecy:
...when the contract was up, it was destroyed all the way down to the ground level. ...Most of the routing was over existing roads. Very little was at ground level. That's why you won't find much on Google earth, they did an excellent job of making sure you couldn't see that anything was really there. Standard operating procedure at LANL. When they finish a project, they usually destroy the buildings with it and then deny it's existence.
Even though the project has been declassified by the military and destroyed [sic]. My Partner Roger Freely was the main inventor and Project Leader/Project Manager. He is the only one that has the authority to make it public or not. He was given permission to commercialize from the US government within the last year and a half. We tried to get pictures of the system when it was in operation, all of it confiscated by LANL, even when asked, they denied it. They had the system destroyed after the contract was up because they weren't interested in continual usage of it. It was offered to the city of Los Alamos and turned down due to the city being in bankruptcy at the time and heavily in debt.
And the Zapruder Film showed a PRT on the grassy knoll, but the CIA sent a MacBook back in time to edit it.

You'd think after 2005 the Bush Administration would have promoted PRT-for-emergency-evacuation as a way to show it was going to take future disaster preparedness seriously.


  1. If any of the claims were true, shouldn't the US army be held to account for failure to inform citizens of risks?
    Supposedly they can identify deadly hurricanes a full year in advance!
    Or is Freely risking imprisonment or death for leaking a top secret Army weather program? LOL!

    (Good job on the story and follow-up.)

  2. Don't forget to include the latest claim.

    According to Workman, IPERT was tested (once) at speeds that broke the speed of sound!