Transit, Rail & SkyTran?

April 16, 2009 at 3:17 pm 6 comments

By Carol Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

February’s stimulus plan has the US poised to put $8 billion into upgrading our rail network and developing high-speed rail “corridors.”  Half of the articles I read support theses rail initiatives; the other half criticize them. As far as I understand, most of the criticism centers on the belief that $8 billion, even supplemented with additional stimulus monies, is not enough to have a true high speed rail like our UK counterparts. For example,  the California high speed rail is estimated at over $40 billion.  BUT, we have to start somewhere. For all the technologies that the US leads the world in, highspeed rail isn’t one of them!  We need to fund the high speed rail initiatives. We can’t afford to wait. 

If you are one of the anti-Rail people, why are you? Tell us your thoughts.

 So, this brings me to my next question:  Do you see SkyTran making a US hit in the next decade?  SkyTran is described as  “lightweight two-passenger vehicles suspended from elevated passive magnetic levitation tracks…expected to achieve the equivalent of over 200 miles per gallon fuel economy at 100 miles per hour or faster.”  

If we can’t get folks on board with high speed rail, then does anyone actually think the US would invest in a patented personal rapid transit.  Will we ever see a “Jetsons” type of world in transportation?


Entry filed under: Civil Engineering Issues. Tags: , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sustainable Highways, Transportation & GREENROADS? «  |  August 15, 2012 at 11:39 am

    […] sustainable transportation in the US. Whether we discussed transit, high speed rail, the SCHWEEB or SkyTran, we are fascinated with the concept of finding a way to be better to our planet while getting where […]

  • 2. SM Systems  |  March 24, 2010 at 8:13 am

    The sheer size of the country would dictate that high speed rail should be very much a public priority in the US. Weaning people off their love affairs with their cars will be much easier if there are viable and affordable alternatives in place. I really like the concept of the SkyTran, and feel that it could revolutionise commuting as we know it. The high speeds reachable also makes it viable to really spread people out a bit more as compared to the conventional city model.

  • 3. Eric Rosenstein  |  April 27, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Transportation in America will need to evolve in order to make high speed rail and other commuter and mass transportation systems viable. The high speed rail seed money that the Federal Government is providing should be incentive for a much larger discussion on better ways to integrate and change the systems in place that include personal transportation (cars), mass transportation in cities, freight, high speed rail, air transportation and the like. The real change and challenge will be in taking what has been separate and competing systems and finding ways to combine them and redefine transportation for the next generations to come. I for one find this a great challenge and look forward to being an active participant. As a Nation, we need to move forward. Though the automobile industry is now at a cross roads, the opportunity that is now present to work cooperatively with rail and air transportation to design the next generation of American transportation should be welcome.

  • 4. Jamie M. Fischer  |  April 26, 2009 at 6:15 am

    I would love to see a working high-speed rail network in the U.S., and the sooner the better from my perspective as a traveler. Clearly funding is a huge issue, though. The intertstate highways needed a military impetus to get fast funding and construction– we’ve got to be able to get our tanks from coast to coast –what will be our national motivator for high-speed rail? Not the economy alone…the ARRA money is hardly a drop in the bucket. Furthermore, there are right-of-way and land-rights issues, environmental legislation to satisfy, and in order for any of this to seem worthwhile there has to be support from the heretofore car-enamored public.

    SkyTran, if it really can give the personalized service described in the news cast, may be a good in-city option. If there’s a city out there ready to implement it, sure, spend some of the stimulus funds there. I would still like some inter-city high speed trains, though, and I doubt SkyTran is up to that order.

  • 5. John Weinberger  |  April 21, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Well, I am a father first and a professional engineer second – therefore it is in my personal interest that I am not taxed (nor my my wife or 2.5 year old son taxed) so that southern Californians can ride in this. As my neighbors, my family, and I do not live in southern California, we should not pay a single dime for building a sky tran there. If one or more of us visits southern California and rides this system, then a payment could be expected (per ride). Having those who use or benefit from the system pay for it will certainly ensure that only economically feasible systems are built.

    It would be nice to see a sky tran somewhere. The city of Los Angeles or the state of California should build it. They can pay for it themselves. The same holds true for high speed trains, the states can pay for the infrastructure that benefits the individual states and regional alliances can be made to build these. The federal government should stay out.

    There should be no federal dollars used to pay for things like this. For those who question this statement, simply read the tenth amendment to the United States Constitution.

  • 6. John Poole  |  April 18, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I think skytran is a great idea, but I see the biggest problem is America’s love affair with their cars. My golf clubs sit in the truck along with my shoes for whenever I want to use them. I’m not saying this has to happen, but it is the situation to which we have become accustomed. Also, for people to really catch on, there would have to be a massive investment providing enought “rail” to go anywhere around a city. It’s a tough one.


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