KRT - New Transportation System

krt1.gif (57081 bytes)The Kobe Personal Rapid Transit (KRT)  project was a joint endeavor of Nissho_Iwai and Kobe Steel, Ltd. It was conducted in the early 1970's in Japan and was carried through a complete development, testing and deployment cycle. It was designed to satisfy, as closely as possible, the following nine objectives:

1. Blend in with the environment

2. Be available 18 hours per day

3. Be available without much waiting for passengers

4. Have a low fare or be free

5. Be quiet, safe and non-polluting

6. Allow easy maintenance and coupling

7. Be capable of carrying freight

8. Run about twice as  fast as average current urban transport

9. Provide an enjoyable ride for passengers

It was a software-oriented automated transport system with small vehicles operating under computer control. It was built and operated at a 1975 International Ocean Exposition in Okinawa and carried around 5 million passengers during the Exposition. The route length was about 3 km it had a curve with a 9 m radius and operated over grades of 8%. Sixteen air-condition vehicles were provided with each vehicle having a capacity of 23 passengers (8 seated, 15 standing). Three stations were provided. Maximum capacity was 30 persons.   The technology was developed at a  test track at Shinko Electric Company in Toyohashi. It had a length of about 1 km, a maximum grade of 8% and a minimum curve radius of 9 m. Figure 1 is an annotated diagram that shows most of the details of the KRT vehicle. Figure 2 describes several station design concepts and Figure 3 shows the four main guideway configurations that were planned.

Illustrations of possible KRT applications are provided in Figures 4-6. Figure 4 illustrates how KRT could serve a residential area by providing frequent service to nearby mass transit stations. Figure 5 shows how KRT might be used to connect urban locations with nearby recreational areas.  Figure 6 depicts a business district application that provides easy access to mass transit facilities, parking areas and nearby buildings.

Comparisons between KRT and conventional transit modes (busses and heavy rail like BART) are given in Figure 7, using eight criteria. Cost comparisons are provided in Figure 8. Labor costs are estimated to be reduced by a factor of 10. Some possible future developments in the technology are described in Figure 9, including a dualmode option, a family of vehicle types, automated maintenance diagnosis and cycling, air pad and magnetic levitation and linear induction motor options.

Figure 10 is a system planning diagram that shows the comprehensive approach that was contemplated at that time. It is highly similar to system analyses studies being done today (nearly 25 years later). This flow diagram is supplemented with a more specific technology development and deployment diagram (Figure 11) that shows the how well the persons managing this project understood the complex and interdisciplinary nature of the work they were engaged in. Urban form, politics, psychology, community relations, architecture were some of the disciplines that were to be involved at the beginning, according to this diagram.

The reasons why this project was terminated in the late 1970s are not known. If anyone has some information on this topic, they are invited to send it to J. Schneider for inclusion on this page.


Last modified: August 09, 1998