Short Course Descriptions

Information is provided on two courses. The first runs for a full term and the second is a two-day short course.

Transit Systems Design and Analysis

Extension School, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

When: Fall Term 1996

Instructor: Dr. J. Edward Anderson

Prerequisite: Engineering Mechanics, senior or graduate engineer standing

Textbook: J. E. Anderson, Transit Systems Theory, Lexington Books, D. C.

Heath (1978) and compilation of more recent instructor's papers from the Journal of Advanced Transportation.

Lectures: Two two-hour periods per week, for 10 weeks.

Assignments: Reading, problems, computer programs.


The economic, operational and physical theory of traditional and new transit systems with the aim to determine optimal solutions in specific situations. Based on economic analysis, it is shown how to derive a transit system that is optimal for a wide range of applications. The course covers transit economics, kinematics and control, energy use, space-curved guideways, network planning, performance analysis, theory of availability and dependability, reliability allocation, failure modes and effects analysis, and design issues. The student will be prepared to participate in professional work in transit planning projects.


Week - Topics

1 - Introduction

Introduction to present and emerging transit systems such as personal rapid

transit and dual mode transportation, to transit data sources and to the

economics of transit. Preliminary analysis of break-even fare. Demonstration

of computer- analysis tools. Ample time is allowed for questions and

discussion of transit issues.

2 - Economic Optimization

The system equation for cost per passenger per unit distance. Interpretation

of the cost equation in terms of system characteristics. System equations for

peak hour and daily average load factor. Comparison of systems.

3 - Kinematics

Ride-comfort parameters, state-change equations, power-limited speed

profiles, safe headway, station operations and throughput, vehicle control,

safe-design criteria. Computer calculation of speed profiles.

4 - Force, Power and Energy

Inertial, aerodynamic, road resistance, and magnetic drag forces. System

equation for energy use per passenger per unit of distance, use in

comparative analysis of transit systems.

5 - Curved Guideways

Theory of space curves and their calculation. Superelevation. Spiral

transitions to curves and parallel guideways at constant speed and constant

deceleration. Minimization of length of station guideways.

6 - Network Planning

Performance parameters of network transit systems. Ridership. Factors in

network layout. Visual impact and span length of elevated systems, integration into

the community. Layout of specific applications.

7 - Performance and Fleet Size

Demand matrix, line and station flows, dwell time, operating headway, average

and minimum headway. Methods of calculation of performance in loop and network

transit systems. Specific applications.

8 - Measures of On-Time Performance and Reliability Allocation Theory

Equations for measurement and calculation of availability and dependability.

Redundancy. Lagrangian minimization of life cycle cost subject to

performance constraints. Application to design of transit systems.

9 - Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

Subsystems and classes of failure. Estimation of mean time to failure of

critical failure modes. Implications for design. Operations analysis of

person-hours of delay due to failures.

10 - Design Issues

Design criteria and philosophy. Hanging vs. supported vehicles. Optimum

cross section. Wind, earthquake, and dynamic loading. Natural frequency and

ride comfort. Dynamic analysis of guideways in bending and torsion. Optimum

span length. Vehicle size and layout. Switch criteria. Control

alternatives. Suspension and propulsion tradeoffs.

Short Course on Network Automated Guideway Transit Systems

November 21-22, 1996

Marriott City Center Hotel

Instructor: J. Edward Anderson, Ph.D., P. E.

This short course is provided for attendees at the International Conferenceon PRT and other Emerging Transportation Systems who need a systematic

grounding in fundamentals needed to specify, plan, and make decisions about

new types of automated guideway transportation. The "new types" implied in

the title of the conference include captive-vehicle personal rapid transit,

dual-mode transportation, and high-speed intercity versions of these systems.

The key distinguishing feature of these systems over the conventional is

that the stops or stations are on by-pass guideways, called "off-line

stations," so that each trip in a network of guideways can be nonstop from

origin to destination. The "nonstop" feature typically more than doubles

average transit speed, which is the primary factor in attracting riders, and

is practical if small, rather than large, vehicles are used. The combination

of small vehicles and nonstop trips results in a series of additional

advantages that combine to create a major breakthrough in public


The emergence of the new systems, which will be of great benefit for mankind,

requires under- standing of a series of engineering principles that can be

called "transit systems theory," in addition to an appreciation of how

certain technologies not available a decade ago can be applied to obtain the

desired goal of adequate performance and safety at minimum cost. Two days is

a short time to become truly proficient but enough to be far ahead of the

person not familiar with the topics treated in the workshop. Text material

will be given to each participant to provide a basis for further study. The

two-day workshop will be divided into eight 90-minute sessions, with time for

discussion included during breaks and class time. The course is designed to

be followed with a minimum of engineering background but with some knowledge

of elementary mathematics. The details of analysis of the new systems are

highly analytical, yet a broader audience than the professional

transportation engineer needs to have reasonable grasp of the fundamentals,

and it is to that end that the workshop has been constructed. Computer

demonstrations will be used to illustrate certain points and to demonstrate

planning capabilities available.


Thursday, November 21th

8:30-10am - Introduction

Short Introduction by Gordon Amundson

An explanation of the structure of the workshop

Some history of PRT and Dual-Mode development

Questions, answers and comments about the concepts presented at the


Essential elements of transit systems theory.

10:30-noon - Economics

Economic optimization of transit systems based on a system-significant form

of the equation for break-even fare of a transit system per passenger per

unit of distance, i. e. how to derive the optimum characteristics of a

transit system.

1:30-3pm - Kinematics

Essential one-dimensional kinematics of transit systems. Ride comfort

criteria. Speed profiles, stopping distance, average speed, headway,

principles of design for safe headway. How PRT safe-headway principals

differ from railroad practice. Station operations and throughput.

3:30-5pm - Energy Use

Force, power and energy. A system-significant equation for energy use per

passenger per unit of distance. A comparison of the fundamental factors that

determine energy use in transit systems.

Friday, November 22th

8:30-10am - Layout and Planning

Layout of guideways and principals of network planning. Spiral transition

curves, super-elevation, curve radii, factors that influence the length of

station-bypass guideways and the distance between branch points, implications

of types of intersections on throughput, design to minimize congestion,

typical guideway layouts, circuity.

10:30-noon - Coping with Failures

On-time performance, reliability allocation, failure modes and effects,

implications for design.

1:30-3pm - Control

Synchronous, quasi-synchronous, point-synchronous, asynchronous control.

Point following and car following. Control criteria and requirements.

Effect of propulsion type.

3:30-5pm - System Design

System requirements. Some alternatives and trade-offs. Rules of engineering

design, requirements for a successful PRT design program, psychology of

design, enhancement of creativity in design.

For more details, please contact Dr. J.E. Anderson via e-mail at

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Last modified: May 24, 1996