Tomorrow's Transportation - New Systems for the
THE SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT was
directed in 1966 [by Section 6(b) of the Urban Mass
Transportation Act of 1964, as amended] to:
. . . undertake a project to study and prepare a
program of research, development, and demonstration of new
systems of urban transportation that will carry people and
goods within metropolitan areas speedily, safely, without
polluting the air, and in a manner that will contribute to
sound city planning.
This report summarizes the findings of the "new
systems" study. The study reflects the concern of the
Department of Housing and Urban Development for cities and
their people, as well as for their transportation. For
assistance in performing the study, the Department engaged 17
contractors from industry, scientific research centers,
universities and the foundations over an 18-month period.
Economists, engineers, scientists, technicians, urban
planners, systems analysts, management consultants, and
transportation experts were employed. The results of their
efforts and a recommended research and development program
are summarized here. A series of more detailed technical
reports, containing the specific findings of the contractors,
will be forthcoming.
In brief, the study found that progress in urban
transportation technology, rudimentary today, could
nevertheless be greatly enhanced and accelerated by vigorous
the leadership of the Federal Government--in cooperation with
the private industries concerned--using a systematic,
carefully designed, and reasonably funded research and
development program as the major guiding stimulus.
The capacity and the capabilities of American industry
and private enterprise stand ready. The scientific and
technical manpower needed for increased research and analysis
in the field of urban transportation is available. But a
stimulus is needed to progress, to prevent future neglect of
intraurban transportation technology and systems, and to
develop means by which this progress can contribute to the
quality of urban life.
A part of this report examines the promise of existing
technologies to improve present urban transportation systems.
It identifies some exciting short-run improvements that could
be undertaken. But beyond immediate improvements, this report
projects a continuing research and development effort which
could turn innovation into application, and accelerate
transit technology in a careful and deliberate, rather than
The research and development program recommended as a
result of the new systems study entails a total program
funding of $980 million. This time-phased program could
continue and accelerate the $25 million program contained in
the President's fiscal year 1969 budget. It would involve
these areas: Improved analysis, planning, and operating
methods; immediate system improvements; components for future
systems; and the development of entirely new systems for the
The recommendations maintain these major objectives for
using the transportation system to enhance and improve the
total city system: To achieve equality of access to urban
educational, job, and cultural opportunities; to improve the
quality of transit services; to relieve traffic congestion;
to enhance efficiency in the use of equipment and facilities;
to achieve more efficient urban land use; to provide cleaner,
quieter, and more attractive public transportation; to
provide more alternatives to urban residents in mode and
style of urban living; and to permit orderly improvement of
urgent transportation problems without pre-empting;
long-range solutions for the future.
Nearly 300 projects and proposals having immediate
application possibilities were examined and evaluated. For
example, to improve buses these possibilities were studied:
Exclusive bus lanes; traffic flow control;
passenger-activated traffic control; computer scheduling;
better design of vehicles; and a dualmode bus that could
operate on ordinary streets or on high-speed rights-of-way.
Similarly, recommendations were examined for improving
intraurban rail systems, urban automobiles, and the options
and opportunities for pedestrians.
Other proposals of more general application were
considered to improve fare collection methods, security of
passengers and operators, methods for communicating station
and passenger information, and, of particular significance,
management and operation of urban transit systems.
For the longer-term future, the new systems study found
many promising technologies which should be further explored,
such as: Automatic controls for vehicles and entire movement
systems; new kinds of propulsion, energy and power
transmission; new guideway and suspension components;
innovations in tunneling; and the application of these
potentials for movement of goods as well as people.
The more promising of these new systems are:
· Dial-a-Bus: A bus type of system
activated on demand of the potential passengers, perhaps by
telephone, after which a computer logs the calls, origins,
destinations, location of vehicles and number of passengers,
and then selects the vehicle and dispatches it.
· Personal Rapid Transit: Small
vehicles, traveling over exclusive rights-of-way,
automatically routed from origin to destination over a
network guideway system, primarily to serve low- to
medium-population density areas of a metropolis.
· Dual Mode Vehicle Systems: Small
vehicles which can be individually driven and converted from
street travel to travel on automatic guideway networks.
· Automated Dual Mode Bus: A large
vehicle system which would combine the high-speed capacity of
a rail system operating on its private right-of-way with the
flexibility and adaptability of a city bus.
· Pallet or Ferry Systems: An
alternative to dual mode vehicle systems is the use of
pallets to carry (or ferry) conventional automobiles,
minibuses, or freight automatically on high-speed
· Fast Intraurban Transit Links:
Automatically controlled vehicles capable of operating either
independently or coupling into trains, serving metropolitan
area travel needs between major urban nodes.
· New Systems for Major Activity
Centers: Continuously moving belts; capsule transit
systems, some on guideways, perhaps suspended above city
The components and systems discussed in this report do
not by any means exhaust the rich array of opportunities for
innovation in urban transportation provided by the new
systems study, as the forthcoming technical reports will
indicate. The recommended research and development program,
projected as it is into the future, is susceptible to
modification as further knowledge is gained.
For more details on this study,
see the paper by H. W. Merritt , written in 1993, 25
years after Tomorrow's Transportation was
Last modified: July 15, 1998