City of SeaTac Phase II Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) Feasibility Project

This page contains some information about a Major Investment Study (MIS) of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) for the City of SeaTac, Washington. The full text of the Executive Summary from this study is available on-line. The entire study is also available on-line as is the PRT study for the City of SeaTac.

The objective of the study was to analyze the potential utility of PRT as a circulator system within the city. The general concept was to connect the SeaTac International Airport terminal with the hotels, employee parking lots, park-fly lots, rental car lots and other destinations in the vicinity of the airport terminal. Such a system would replace the numerous shuttle buses and vans that now provide transportation for airport employees, airline passengers and other miscellaneous trips within this area. If the PRT network were built, these vehicles would no longer be available and so many of the PRT patrons would use the PRT system instead.

The study began in October of 1995 and was scheduled to run for approximately 12 months. It was not concluded until the middle of 1997 for a variety of reasons. The overall budget was $600,000+ and the main consultant was BRW, Inc. There were numerous sub-consultants.

The major components of the feasibility project included:

Develop a PRT system that best serves the existing and forecasted travel demand along International Boulevard

Compare and evaluate the best PRT system to:

A no build alternative

A low cost capital alternative that could include: continued use of shuttle vans, increased bus service, traffic signalization improvements, or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes along International Boulevard

Select a preferred transportation investment strategy based on comparisons and evaluation of alternatives

The results from this project, together with public input and direction from the project Steering Committee, were used to examine what future transportation facility investments would make the most sense for the City. Decisions on next steps (if any) were expected to be made in 1998. A press conference and open house to report on the findings of the study was held on March 26th, 1997. The study was shelved and remains there today (October 2013). It was severely criticized by a Lea+Elliot memo prepared for the Port of Seattle shortly before consideration by the SeaTac City Council.

Two alternative PRT networks were evaluated. One of these, Alternative C, was selected by the Steering Committee, as the preferred alternative. It includes 12 miles of one-way guideway, 21 stations and 209 vehicles. It is forecast to attract 28,000 daily riders (7.5 million annual riders) upon completion. Capital costs have been estimated at $307 million and annual operating/maintenance costs at $7.5 million. The study was accepted by the SeaTac Council in the fall of 1997. A PRT project was not approved by the City Council and not further action has been taken by them since 1997.

Project Background

The City of SeaTac Phase II PRT study builds upon the conclusions of the 1992 SeaTac People Mover Study (approximately $300,000), and takes the next step. This People Mover study analyzed alternative technologies for a people mover system with the City. Conclusions reached included:

If feasible, the PRT technology is the most appropriate long term transportation method to service the trip patterns and characteristics of the SeaTac area

For the short term (approximately 5 years), shuttle buses will fill the people-mover function in SeaTac

Group Rapid Transit (GRT) technology would be most appropriate for the Port of Seattle (the airport owner/operator) to operate from the airport terminal to remote employee parking facilities

Project Events

An open house and project scoping meeting was held on April 18, 1996. A second open house was held on March 26th, 1997.

A brief review and analysis of the results from the study was considered by the Transportation Policy Board of the Puget Sound Regional Council on January 8, 1998. The documents presented to the TPB are provided. This document was approved by the Executive Board of the PSRC on January 22, 1998. This study is the first Major Investment Study ever performed for an application of a PRT technology anywhere in the world.

The full text of the Exective Summary from this study is now available.

The manager of the study for BRW, Inc. was Dick Wolsfeld. He might be contacted through Erica Tiffany at the Seattle office of BRW, Inc. The address is: 2025 1st Ave., Suite 650, Seattle, WA 98121. Ph: (206)-727-3368; fax: (206) 727-3350; e-mail:

Don Monaghan managed the study for the City of Sea-Tac. He might be reached at the following address: City Engineer, City of SeaTac, 17900 International Blvd., Suite 401, SeaTac, WA. 98188-4236. Ph: (206)-241-1996; fax: (206) 241-3999. More details might also be obtained from the City Manager, City of SeaTac, 206-248-6106.

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Last modified: October 23, 2013