Objectives and Requirements
* To achieve zero crashes, fully automatic vehicles on exclusive track are the only proven way.
* To attract 80% out of cars: speed must average 60kph, four times faster than cars; reliability must be not impacted by serial queues, traffic incidents nor maintenance; and low cost vehicles must weigh only 300kg, run smoothly, and cost only 5c/vehicle-km, with two-way track cost of $13M/km, including 3 stops and 100 vehicles.
* To reduce assaults and for public health: vehicles must be private; have personal routes; have video monitoring with real-time facial recognition; and always be available at stops, that are at close proximity to origins and destinations.
* To satisfy amenity requires: acceptable appearance; quiet traffic; and low emissions.
* To remove congestion: 80% of traffic must be attracted out of cars.
* To meet desirable trip time: speed must average 60kph, four times faster than cars.
* To achieve profitability: 80% of traffic must be attracted out of cars; capacity must be one vehicle per second; and sovereign risk must be overcome by government guarantee.
* To create jobs: transport must be a local industry; skilled; profitable; and 80% of traffic must be attracted out of cars.
* To achieve reliability: vehicle components must be reliable; routes must have redundancy and excess capacity; and all control and propulsion components must have redundancy.
* To reduce CO2 by 80% requires mode change away from cars and on to low energy, electric, aerial podcars.
* To provide immediate service 24/7 for rural areas was not able to be met with sufficient speed using the same urban aerial podcars and another mode or another variation should be proposed.
Conclusion for Objectives and Requirements
For the objectives of road safety; congestion removal; fast trip times; profitability; job creation; reliability; and CO2 reduction; there are practical requirements that will dramatically deliver desirable outcomes. For the objectives of security; amenity; and rural service; there are practical requirements that will deliver major improvements in outcomes, far better than the existing tolerated conditions, even if less than optimal. Action is warranted on every one of these ten issues. All alternatives except suspended podcars are not acceptable and the best fit with the design requirements appears to be Metrino. The objective could not be fully met for rural areas and requires more investigation.
Podcars are to be: fully automatic; electric powered; light weight, quiet; suspended vehicles; with loading capacity for 5 people, a mobility scooter, a bike, or 400kg freight; able to operate at 70kph, with future potential for faster speeds; able to climb or descend 100% grades; able to traverse tight curves at speed; able to traverse curves, grades, and stopping with comfort; with directional capacity of 3,600 vehicles/hour; with on time running for 99.9% of peak periods; able to provide personal routes for each vehicle, from any stop to any stop; with video and audio communication between the vehicle, stops, base, and nominated security staff; with a low operating cost of about 5c/vehicle-km.
Track is to be: located in public right of way, road reserves, rail reserves, or parks, with minimal impact on existing transport or services; two-way; of minimal visual target; elevated at ~10m; of low cost of about $13M/km, including 3 stops and 100 podcars; supported on slender poles; with grade separated interchanges, providing all connections off-line, and providing all through movements at speed; stabling on elevated track is required at inner and outer ends of routes.
Stops are to be off-line; at ground level, of minimal visual target; with minimal footprint; accessible from both directions; able to accommodate wheelchairs and freight; and able to accommodate at least 5 vehicles in parallel;
The Government will guarantee the finance for the initial 1km test track and the 21km pilot route, to counter withholding approval. After that, the system is immune from sovereign risk, except for right of way. The Government will also guarantee the availability of public right of way for the test track, the pilot route and for every future route. The Government will support value capture for the provision of stops. The Government will collect rent as 5% of net profits, and regulate to limit profit to 15% with the balance for reinvestment to intensify the network.
Due Diligence should be confirmed by detailed modeling of the patronage, including of freight, and a check of cost estimates and technology. Modelling of patronage should be for the pilot route only and in much better detail than for this coarse assessment. It should include raised estimates of propensity for walking and cycling to stops, and confirm the optimum profitability of stops at 2km proximity. Similarly, the model for freight distribution should involve the pilot route, modified to provide practical service such as for Australia Post. Because podcars are such a new concept, but very profitable, the Government should call tenders and include in the contract test tracks for up to three competitive options, then decide based upon the test tracks, the preferred option for the pilot route.
A Test Track is essential to refine the quality of the system and to obtain approvals. All variations to the design must be subject to vendor approval because there is a history of podcar impediment by weight increase with Taxi2000 and weight is critical.
Profitability is estimated in the table, and an urban network at 2km proximity is highly profitable and a more intense network at 500m proximity may be profitable (the top half of the table). These networks are drawn on the following screens together with rural options. This profitability relates only to the network operator and does not account for savings in congestion costs, savings in government subsidies, avoidance of project funding, nor revenue from freight or in-vehicle advertising. Rental should be mandated at 5% of profits, profits limited to 15% of capital invested, and the balance regulated to intensify the network.
Long Term Objective
While advocating probity and a prudent due process with a test track and pilot route, the big advantage will come from a self-funding, job-creating urban network with redundancy, reliability and good service.
Aerial podcar operating costs are half the costs for a small car, so less than a car or taxi or bus. While some of the rural network can be profitable and self-funding, the speeds of the urban podcars are too slow for rural operations. Much of the rural network needs to be subsidised to provide equity for rural people, but once this is done, then the immediate availability of transport 24/7 at half the existing running cost of a small car will be an enormous benefit for that rural populous. But this might take the form of a faster version of podcars or a hyperloop. and that is a separate investigation.
The intensity of the urban network depends upon the size of profits and low cost of network. Only a guide-way mounted on poles is sufficiently low cost, and devoid of serious impact on existing road capacity. Low operating costs and 80% mode change are then prime factors.
Stop proximity and service levels in the urban area will also need review during network development, using municipal GIS planning tools.