New-Generation Personal Rapid Transit Technologies: Overview and Comparison

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - other


Technology assessment, Technological innovations, PRT, Personal rapid transit, Operating speed, Headways, Braking, Advanced technology


An overview and a comparison of several new-generation personal rapid transit (PRT) technologies are provided. A total of about 40 known PRT concepts existed as of 2007, of which 19 were being actively developed (i.e., not dormant, with some testing completed). Of the 19, 10 had readily accessible operational specifications, enabling an assessment and comparison. Ten operational parameters were considered for each of the technologies. A throughput of 7,200 passengers per hour on a single-track PRT line is possible with a minimum headway of 1.0 s, line speed of 35 km/h, and braking rate of 9.8 m/s² (i.e., Gx). A minimum headway of 0.5 s is possible either at low speeds (<20 km/h) or with hard emergency braking (≥2Gx). PRT technologies proposing values that exceed these limits may not be feasible. To accommodate short headways and high emergency braking rates, controls that require seated passengers should be considered. Only Urban Light Transport and Vectus feature a full slate of either feasible or fundamental (i.e., preferable) operating characteristics. CyberCab and MISTER would be more feasible with decreases in minimum headway and line speed, respectively. The other technologies are partially feasible, unclear in terms of certain characteristics, or better classified as “high-speed” PRT. The findings may facilitate the formulation of PRT standards and operating criteria. These, along with a successful implementation of PRT at Heathrow Airport in England, may generate new markets and competitive technologies. Further studies comparing guideway design, materials, switching, station design, visual impacts, costs, and financing are needed.