Local video gaming legend and 'spaceflight participant' Richard Garriott held a panel at SXSW Monday afternoon. Garriott was there to promote his plan to help ease Austin's traffic woes with a 'PRT' system.
His presentation, "Personal Rapid Transit: Available NOW for Austin" was held at the Westin in Downtown Austin as a part of SXSW Interactive.
According to the Official SXSW Interactive guidebook, "Personal Rapid Transit is a transportation solution that offers on-demand, point to point, high speed and private transport in small electric "pod cars" on a network of raised guide-ways in an urban environment. This is no futuristic fantasy. PRT systems are now being built around the globe and are safe, high capacity, reliable systems that can be built and operate at a small fraction of the cost."
Garriott hopes to install a PRT system at the University of Texas. He personally funded an extensive study to examine the feasibility of a project of that scale. The study took existing Capital Metro ridership data to see if the same rider throughput could be achieved. Garriott says the system can not only handle the sheer number of riders but that it would be more efficient.
The cost to construct and operate the PRT system would cost one tenth of a traditional light rail according to Garriott. He also made a point that the on demand system would operate at a profit at a fraction of the cost.
The PRT system that Garriott used as a model for his proposal is the PRT currently in use at London Heathrow Airport in London.
Following Garriott's presentation he opened up the floor for questions. One attendee asked what the typical cost for a rider might be. To which Garriott responded, "Cost to user $1.25 per mile."