What is the UTI?

The Unified Transportation Initiative (UTI) is a National Automated Guideway system based on Personalized Rapid Transit (PRT) technology which is designed to provide nonstop, individualized transit. Private and public Electric Single Occupancy Vehicles (ESOV) automatically deliver occupants to desired exits at speeds that provide faster travel than conventional cars. The UTI comprises the following:

Electric Single Occupancy Vehicles (ESOVs)

Are specially designed, fault tolerant electric vehicles for use on regular streets and on the Automated Guideways. The ESOV's are similar in size to mid-sized cars for up to six passengers with similar passenger amenities from basic to plush. ESOV's come in two major versions:

--One is for use only on the guideway system with no driver controls or internal power.

--One is for use on the guideway system and on regular streets. These ESOV's would be privately owned and equipped with driver controls and limited internal power.

Local Loop Automated Guideways

The local loop is an elevated guideway that will cover approximately 10 miles with entrance and exit stations approximately every mile and will operate at speeds up to 50 mph.. The elevated guideway provides:

--ESOV's for passenger travel

--ESOV electrical power and steering control

--ESOV speed and spacing control

--ESOV network map and travel communications

--ESOV entrance and exit stations with parking space

--Connections to the High Speed Interconnect Automated Guideway

High Speed Interconnect Automated Guideway

The interconnect guideway connects all the local loops and provides high speed region to region travel. These can be thought of as expressways with limited access. The high-speed guideway would provide travel to other cities and states with speeds up to 140 mph. It would also provide the same ESOV services as listed above.

What does the UTI cost?

Costs are divided into three parts:

--Guideway capital, maintenance, and operational

--ESOV capital and maintenance

--Electric utility power

Capital costs

Include system planning and design, right-of-way acquisition, construction of the automated guideway, interchanges, entrance and exit stations, and system control centers. ESOV are privately funded and therefore, do not required government funding.

Operating costs

Include the day to day costs of operation and maintaining the automated guideway system.

Electric utility costs

The per-trip usage of electric power is billed to the vehicle owner. Peak and off-peak rates would be available. The measurement of usage is done by the vehicle and communicated to the system on trip completion.

What are the benefits of the UTI?

The UTI can provide a number of benefits not commonly associated with other types of transit.

--Users of the UTI can have the same benefits normally associated with private car ownership:

--Privacy is assured as each user has a vehicle to himself

--Travel on demand at any time, day or night based on the user's schedule

--Security is better than a private car. Once a user enters the system the vehicle will not stop until it reaches the desired exit which eliminates stopping on dangerous city streets; and, since the guideways are single lanes, no one can pull along side. The guideways are also elevated well above city streets so there will be no involvement with what's going on down at street level.

--Safety is also better than a private car as the automated system does all the driving. Unlike city street driving, the single lane guideway eliminates side or head-on collisions with oncoming traffic. Because the guideway is nonstop, the chances of a rear-end collision are also remote. The guideway vehicles are designed with redundant systems: steering and power controls are checked automatically every time the ESOV enters the system. If the ESOV's systems fail diagnostics, the ESOV will not be allowed to enter the guideway.

--Fast local travel with no traffic congestion or delays. Nonstop guideway travel will be equal to, or faster than, driving a car at least 5 miles on non-crowded streets.

--Very fast cross-town or city-to-city travel. At 140 mph, guideway trips of up to 400 miles will beat air travel times for point-to-point travel time.

--Zero CO air pollution in congested urban areas

--Low energy cost with the possibility of using solar energy supplementing some of the electrical demand.

--Time Savings: The trips will be shorter with time for reading, eating, working, or resting while the ESOV and the guideway takes the user to the destination.

--Economic development will follow with hundreds of miles of guideways to build and maintain and thousands of new vehicles to build and maintain.

--Environmental and esthetic improvement: Guideways will replace utility poles, by providing conduits for communications, power feeds, and street lighting.

--A major related benefit is reduction in normal traffic congestion and pollution by reducing the numbers of private car trips.

--Small land requirements are a feature of the guideway because they will be built over existing rights-of-way.

--High capacity: Each single lane local guideway supports up to 18,000 vehicles/hour. The high-speed interconnect single-lane guideways can support up to 49,000 vehicles/hour.

--The high capacity and small land requirements of the elevated guideway system make it an ideal supplement to ordinary car travel.

What are the disadvantages of the UTI?

With the UTI, only users with their own ESOV will have unlimited access. People without their own ESOV will have to walk or use some other transportation system to get to a guideway station. With stations spaced one mile apart, the maximum distance to a station on a guideway route would be 1/2 mile.

Another disadvantage of the guideway system is that everything must be designed and built new without anything but a prototype to work with. A large investment is required to create a system of sufficient size and numbers of ESOVs to prove its worth.

Is the UTI currently in use?

NO. Proposals are being made to selected large cities. Currently only Tucson, Chicago, Phoenix, Denver, Los Angles, Portland, and Seattle are being contacted to do a route study.

How effective could the UTI be?

Very effective. High speed, privacy, security, safety, and travel on your own schedule without traffic jams makes the UTI an effective alternative to private vehicles. By the end of the first year of operation, the UTI could replace up to 10% of the conventional traffic in the areas it serves. The estimated reduction in conventional traffic by the end of the fifth year could approach 40% in the areas it serves.

A 136 mile network of guideways covering the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area is proposed. The network would extending from Peoria to central Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, and Chandler. It could feed the Arizona State University (ASU) campus, Kemper arena, and the new baseball stadium. At 30% of capacity, it could carry 215,400 passengers, taking 538,000 trips per day and using a fleet of 14,000 ESOV's.

The assumptions for the UTI option include the following:

--A 136 mile elevated guideway with 14,000 ESOV's

--All guideways built on existing rights-of-way

--The average one-way trip length is 7.8 miles

--The average trips per day of transit riders is 2.5

--The average guideway portion of the fare is 40 cents per trip

--The average trips per week are based on 6 days of service per week, or 312 days per year

--The net capital cost assumes 50% federal funding with the balance amortized over 10 years

--Annual passenger trips (7% of total Phoenix area trips) 168,031,000.

--Annual VMT reduced by 1,310,638,000.

--Daily riders - 215,000.

--Annual gross operating costs* $24,822,000.

--Annual gross capital costs* $30,015,000

--Annual guideway fare revenue* $67,212,000.

--Annual net operating cost* ($12,374,000.)

--Annual net capital cost* $0.

--Annual tons of pollution reduced 24,900


+Net cost per ton of pollutant reduced ($2,600.)

* Guideway portion of cost only, ESOV's are privately funded.

ESOV assumptions and costs

The ESOV assumptions are as follows:

--All ESOV's are fleet vehicles owned by private companies

--The average utilization of the guideway system is 30%

--The average utilization of the fleet of ESOVs is 27%

--The average number of daily passengers is 215,000

--The net capital cost assumes no federal funding with costs amortized over 5 years

--The total cost per passenger trip is $1.05

--Annual gross revenue $50,409,000.

--Annual gross operational costs: $5,041,000.

--Annual gross capital costs: $37,496,000.

--Annual net operational costs: ($7,872,000.)

--Annual net capital costs: $0.

--Annual gross energy cost (peak rates): $58,811,000.

How easily could the UTI be implemented?

The ease of implementation for the UTI is dependent upon a number of variables. Alignment and environmental studies, the identification of funding sources, and system design could take several years. The small footprint of the elevated guideway makes use of existing rights-of-way highly likely and, therefore, implementation could be quicker than other transit options. Realistically, it could take five to seven years to implement the first stage. Expansion would be continuous as the guideways are expanded to cover ever larger areas as demand requires. Connections to cities in other states would also be part of the growth of the system. A unified approach is required across the country so that the ESOVs will be compatible with guideways everywhere. However, this remains a cost effective option even if connections to other cities do not occur.

What would a typical trip be like?

A description of a typical trip using the UTI dual-mode system in Tucson, Arizona is available.

What is needed?

A pilot project to demonstrate the UTI. Without a demonstration to prove the capabilities of the UTI, no city will take a chance on unproven technology. History has too many examples of promising technology failing for all sorts of reasons. Therefore, it would be political suicide to try to implement a billion dollar project without a feasibility demonstration.

We at BCS believe we are ready for a demonstration. Our computer models have solutions for controlling speed, vehicle spacing, entrance and exit merging, vehicle steering, and propulsion. Our design for non-stop trips require high availability redundant designs for all mission critical components.

Funding a demonstration of the UTI is the next step.

Contact Information: Jim Beregi, BCS, Inc.,  Ph: 863-207-4743


Last modified: April 20, 2000