This concept has obviously been around for a number of years now, but I just found out about it today: Urban Light Transit (ULTra) is an electric, battery-powered, 100mpg-equivalent, elevated personal rapid transit system. It consists of a number of 5-person vehicles. It will begin real-world operations at London’s Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 later this year. At least six other systems are in some stage of planning at this time. Given the appropriate part of a municipality, this system could really make a difference in getting carbon spewing vehicles off the road.
For the naysayers out there that continue to claim that electric vehicles can’t do what personal internal combustion vehicles do, this technology is additional proof that they’re wrong. These technologies can shift us away from the paradigm where more than 50% of vehicles on the road are single-occupancy to one where more than 50% of vehicles are multiple-occupancy. The fact that it is rapid transit in a personal sense is a strong statement to critics of larger mass-transit systems that operate relatively infrequently. Which brings up the next point: this isn’t supposed to replace other technologies – it is supposed to augment them. ULTra should operate as part of a larger pro-clean, transit-oriented system. If you combine this with walkable neighborhoods of mixed development and bus and light-rail operations in a mass-transit system, every part works to benefit and support the other.
Imagine if an ULTra system were added to parts of the Denver metro area (or Colorado Springs or…) – or better yet if multiple individual systems were put in place in different, neighboring sections of the metropolis. Think of how many additional cars would be taken off the overburdened roads as it worked in concert with the bus and rail systems in place today and in the future. It’s not perfect (nothing is), but it is exciting to think about.
Cross-posted at SquareState – Colorado’s Progressive Political Blog.