Palletized Dualmode IS an Answer: A Response to Kim Goltermann
Van Metre Lund, Autran Corporation
I agree with Kim Goltermann that palleted systems may have problems as to land use in crowded urban areas, that such systems can be no more than a partial solution to all of our problems, that moving an auto on a platform may require more energy than moving an auto alone, and also that the 10-mile Autran system with 422 pallets could not launch pallets indefinitely at a 1.2 second rate but rather at a 3.1 second rate.
Heating and cooling should be no problem. The engine of any auto can be idling while being transported, consuming some fuel but only a very small fraction of what would otherwise be consumed. For emergency evacuation, trained employees can use special vehicles to enter the main guideway from stations along its length and move rearwardly to a stalled vehicle. (If "true" dualmode proponents have a better plan, I would be glad to adopt it.)
I fail to see how any of Mr. Goltermanns comments could have any substantial negative effect on my claim that the 10-mile Autran system could be profitable, yielding a net income of 12.2% of capital costs of $75.7 million. In fact, he acknowledges that "it is perfectly possible that such a system could be financially successful if built anytime soon".
Mr. Goltermann nevertheless seems to oppose construction of such a system. It is not understood why he would do so, if indeed he would, or what positive proposals he might have to deal with the immediate problem of auto use?. The Autran 10-mile system is designed to carry autos though an average distance of 8 miles for a average fare of $2.50 to yield an annual fare revenue of $37.84 million. This means that it could carry autos through a total distance of over 121 million miles in one year. It also means that:
Why on earth would anyone oppose construction of such a system? It would not only deal with the very serious problem of auto use but could lead to a nationwide network of guideways usable for carrying PRT and other passenger cabins as well as freight containers. It would certainly not prevent the building of the "true" dualmode systems advocated by Mr. Goltermann and others. Quite the contrary, a guideway built for vehicles that can carry pallets could also be designed to accommodate vehicles for "true" dualmode operation or be modified for that purpose.
Finding the ideal system for the future is a separate but important issue. I would not like to be critical about "true" dualmode systems and would like to have more facts as to proposed constructions and probable costs. For example, I would like to have more information about the guideways and vehicles that are being proposed for "true" dualmode systems. The RUF web site provides ideas as to one type of guideway and one type of associated vehicles and provides data indicating capital costs of $7 to $7.5 million/mile. Are there others? What types of guideways and vehicles are being proposed for maglev operation and what will they cost? What is being proposed as to LIMs and LSMs and what will they cost? (My very limited research suggests that maglev, LIMs and LSMs would be very expensive).
Mr. Goltermann claims that a "true" dualmode system could be constructed for approximately half of the net capital cost necessary for a palletized operating system. He may very well be correct, but I wonder whether he has taken into account the capital costs and operating and maintenance expenses which must be borne by users of a "true" dualmode system. It seems to me that an auto that is so designed and constructed as to be capable of travel on either streets or an electrified guideway must surely cost more to construct, operate and maintain than an auto that need travel only on a street. Bear in mind that to be successful, there must be many users for each dualmode system, each user bearing whatever additional costs and expenses are required in connection with the specially equipped auto that he or she must buy.
However, please, please, please bear in mind that we are now depleting irreplaceable oil resources at an alarming rate, causing deaths, injuries and property damage that could be avoided, polluting the atmosphere and tying up traffic. If we spend too much time debating about the ultimate solution, rather than the serious immediate problem, it seems to me that we may be "fiddling while Rome burns".
Last modified: May 27, 2001