Description of a Typical Trip in Tucson, Arizona, on the IMT Personal Rapid Transit System

IMT has been designed to be a dualmode personal rapid transit system. It is energy efficient, non-polluting, and positively the best way to travel around town. The proposed system is so different that it redefines personal transit. Come with me on a trip.

The morning is bright and sunny, just like most mornings in Tucson. The time is 7:25 am and I'm going to a meeting at the County Courts, 12 miles from my house, instead of my office. I grab my coffee cup and head for the garage. Walking toward the front of my vehicle I glance the sweep of the smoke gray canopy which is accented by the white body. The vehicle is small (the roof is just above my waist), and the canopy goes from the very front to just behind the driver's seat. I press the four little squares on the roof in a coded sequence. There is a little hiss and the canopy swings up almost vertical and I slip down into the comfortable leather seat. The soft leather dash arcs around the front. There are none of the familiar gauges, just a blank padded dash. A touch-sensitive computer screen is in the center with five little squares along the bottom edge. I press them in a coded sequence and the screen lights up. It displays and speaks, "Good morning, today is May 21st, the time is 7:27 am, temperature 68, energy level is full." The computer display screen also displays speed and location. The canopy closes with a hiss, and a pistol-grip handle rises up on my right. I take the handle and gently pull the handle straight back and vehicle moves backward. Oh, there's no steering wheel or pedals, the pistol grip handle controls all movement.

I continue to back out of the garage. As the front of the vehicle clears the garage, I tilt the handle to the right, and the vehicle's front wheels turn to the right. A little more tilt to the right, and the vehicle turns more sharply to the left as I back-up and swing around to go forward down the steep driveway. I now push the handle forward with the handle straight up and off we go down the driveway and out onto the street. As we pull up to Craycroft, I squeeze the pistol grip and the vehicle slows. (It takes much less time to apply the breaks when all you do is squeeze-- about 1/10 the time it takes to move your foot and step on a break pedal).

We proceed down Craycroft toward Grant Road. Just past Palo Verde Hospital, I move to the far right lane and slow to enter the ramp lane for personal mass transit vehicles. The ramp lane has walls on both sides about three feet high and takes control of my vehicle. The computer screen displays and speaks, "Welcome to TTA [Tucson Transit Authority]. Your vehicle has passed all diagnostic tests and your account is current." "Destination? Office- Downtown- Other-," I touch Downtown. "Government- Financial- Other-," I touch Government. "CityCounty- State- Federal-," I touch County. The screen displays, "County Court Buildings, EXIT G2."

The TTA has now taken full control of my vehicle and will provide the electric power. We are slowly approaching the split to the Grant Road westbound merge ramp. As we move toward the sloping ramp, the vehicle stops to wait at the launch point for an open slot. The computer beeps and displays, "Ready to start merge in 5 seconds. Travel time will be 15 minutes to exit G2, County Court buildings. The fare will be $2.50." As an open electronic slot approaches, the vehicle starts to accelerate briskly up the ramp to merge with the Guideway traffic. Our travel speed will be 45 miles per hour down the elevated Guideway. The only stop will be our destination at exit G2.

I watch the Today Show on the computer screen and occasionally look out over the city from my seventeen foot high vantage point. A few minutes later, the computer screen beeps, displays and speaks a message from the TTA, "Will you accept an alternate exit for a 20% discount? Large numbers of vehicles are expected to exit this morning at G2, will you accept G3? Map?" I touch "map" to see where G3 is, and, in an instant, a map of the area appears on the screen with G2 and G3 Flashing. It's only 3 blocks from G2. So I touch "accept," and, in a little while, the TTA says, "Thank you. Your new exit is G3. New fare $2.00. Arrival in 9 minutes at 7:50." Back to the Today Show. I pick up the cellular phone and check for messages at my office and change my recording for the current day.

The computer screen beeps again and flashes and specks, "Arrival in 30 seconds." The vehicle descends the exit ramp and pulls into the first available stall. My meeting should last 3 hours, so I touch the computer screen to indicate it should return here in 3 hours and 5 minutes. I get out, the canopy closes, and the vehicle pulls out toward the parking garage. It will park itself in the municipal garage. The garage has been modified to be a self-park, and it now holds 8 times more vehicles than it did when it was a car garage.

Three hours and ten minutes later I arrive back at the garage and my vehicle is waiting for me near the stall where I left it. I touch the sequence lock, the canopy lifts, I get in, and we're off up to the Guideway and my office (5 minutes and $1.05 away).

Possible? You bet. There is no magic, no technical breakthrough, merely current technology used for public transportation.

Contact Information: Jim Beregi, South Coast Consulting, Inc.,  250 Beacon Hill Lane, PO Box 1326, Port Orford, Oregon, 97465; Phone 863-207-4743; fax: 541-332-0808; e-mail:

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Last modified: February 26, 2004