Automated Transit Networks (ATN): A Review of the State of the Industry and Prospects for the Future

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Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, mode - other, place - north america, place - urban, planning - network design, policy


Automated transit; ATN, PRT, Podcars, Urban transportation


The concept of Automated Transit Networks (ATN) - in which fully automated vehicles on exclusive, grade-separated guideways provide on-demand, primarily non-stop, origin-to-destination service over an area network – has been around since the 1950s. However, only a few systems are in current operation around the world. ATN does not appear “on the radar” of urban planners, transit professionals, or policy makers when it comes to designing solutions for current transit problems in urban areas.

This study explains ATN technology, setting it in the larger context of Automated Guideway Transit (AGT); looks at the current status of ATN suppliers, the status of the ATN industry, and the prospects of a U.S.-based ATN industry; summarizes and organizes proceedings from the seven Podcar City conferences that have been held since 2006; documents the U.S./Sweden Memorandum of Cooperation on Sustainable Transport; discusses how ATN could expand the coverage of existing transit systems; explains the opportunities and challenges in planning and funding ATN systems and approaches for procuring ATN systems; and concludes with a summary of the existing challenges and opportunities for ATN technology. The study is intended to be an informative tool for planners, urban designers, and those involved in public policy, especially for urban transit, to provide a reference for history and background on ATN, and to use for policy development and research.


Permission to link to this report has been given by Mineta Transportation Institute, copyright remains with them.