We have a problem.
I have a startup for making light weight PRT transportation, and India is supposed to be a main market. Today, when walking the streets in Mangalore, I realized the solution won't fit for two reasons.
( A little disclaimer first: Mangalore is not really suffering from too much urban growth or traffic congestion. Currently, it is not in a need of PRT. But some parts of India (i.e. Bangalore) desperately are and these issues might abound there as well. )
#1 - Electric wires *everywhere* in the air
We cannot think of putting traffic at 3,5m if there are electric wires at 5. This sometimes occurs is western cities as well, but much, much less since there cables are more underground. I.e. city lighting is done with underground cables.
#2 - Movement patterns are different
We have been riding around the center with rickshaw. The problem is that at least in Mangalore, there are no suburbs or other "natural areas of movement", as I like to call them. No "city within city" but in order to get stuff and go places, people travel here and there, seemingly randomly. I guess the lack of city planning has caused this. Anyways, it's a fact. No suburbs.
That means two things: gradual introduction of PRT is a doomed idea. In order for a system to be usable, it must reach places. A track covering some particular part of a homogenous city is useless.
Second, an introduction to a whole city (which I think is utopian anyways) would cause major havoc among rickshaw drivers and others losing their livelyhood. Not so with gradual introduction (if that were possible) since the drivers could continue business nearby.
I cannot see a solution to these issues, which is okay in itself. PRT should not be pushed into places where it does not fit, or brings little additional value. We must be careful with that once the hype stage of these tracks comes - it is a disgrace if they end up destroying local life instead of enforcing it.
The air wires probably will be put into cables eventually - at least that is what happened in the west. Maybe in a monsoon climate it's actually better to have wires in the air?
At least in bigger cities, rich people are getting their own "suburbs", but they are not large enough for an internal transport network. And for such rich people walking wouldn't normally hurt. The idea of a PRT track connecting such apartment islands with selected malls and selected workplace feels like a disgrace as well.
If you have a solution to this, please comment or send a tweet to @bmdesignhki.