Mountain View (Google/NASA)

“When I was here at Michigan, I wanted to build a personal rapid transit system on campus to replace the buses. It was a futuristic way of solving our transportation problem. I still think a lot about transportation — you never lose a dream, it just incubates as a hobby. Many things that people labor hard to do now, like cooking, cleaning, and driving will require much less human time in the future. That is, if we ‘have a healthy disregard for the impossible’ and actually build new solutions.” – Google co-founder Larry Page’s May 2nd 2010 University of Michigan commencement speech

Working as circulator transit for office parks, airports, universities and other major activity centers, ULTra PRT provides a congestion free mode of transport which also makes carpooling and other transit (such as Caltrain, HSR, VTA light rail, VTA bus, and Google Bauer bus) more effective by solving the “last mile problem.” In addition, PRT enables longer bike commutes and shopping trips, offering added flexibility to both residents and visitors. Google’s “transportation platform” (Google Transit, Google Ride Finder, Android GPS phones, etc) can help glue all the green transportation options together.

Peer-reviewed market research for two other Bay Area transit-served major job centers, Palo Alto’s Stanford Research Park (SRP) and Pleasanton’s Hacienda Business Park, forecasts a PRT-induced commuting mode reduction from more than 80% single occupancy vehicle (SOV) down to 45% SOV. In these two studies, carpooling increased to more than 30% and transit increased beyond 15%. Such commuting shift could free more than 50 acres of surface parking for higher use. The PRT system should be part of VTA’s transit system, with seamless fare box/fare gate integration.

“I think it’s exciting. I think it’s clearly in our future.” Mountain View Councilman Jac Siegal as seen on KTVU TV 10PM news and KTVU web.

“There is so much development going on right in this area. In 5 or 10 years we’ll have gridlock on (recently expanded) Highway 101/85 merge. We’ll need an alternative. The proposal to connect Google, NASA, and Caltrain makes sense as an alternative. PRT will be like a dam breaking. We’re all frustrated with current transit in the area.” – Google employee.


A possible PRT alignment for Mountain View (north is rotated ~30 degrees counter-clockwise for ease of view).

The alignment shown in the above sketch contains 15.2 miles of guideway and 40 stations, and is split into three phases (red, orange, and purple). The orange portion consists of 8.5 miles of guideway with 24 stations with a rough capital cost range of $60M to $128M.

Also available to download are:

From the Downtown MV transit hub (Caltrain commuter rail, VTA bus, VTA LRT, some chance for HSR), there are two likely choices for crossing Highway 101 to Shoreline Biz Park and NASA: Shoreline Blvd. and Moffett Blvd.  Both are feasible choices.

Note: The goal of PRT sketch alignments is to provide a conceptual understanding. Further study and network optimization will refine station and guideway locations and cost estimates – the details above are preliminary indicators only.

Benefits of PRT at Mountain View

In addition to the increased carpooling mentioned above, ULTra PRT offers:

  • Pleasant, car-free travel from homes to downtown Mountain View restaurants and night life
  • Faster travel than in a car: Total PRT trip time from downtown Mountain View Caltrain to Google iPlex is under six minutes (20 sec wait + 5:40 minute PRT journey time). Driving time on the other hand is around 8 minutes (according to Google Maps, which assumes light traffic), plus any additional time spent parking.
  • A faster way to get to Shoreline Amphitheatre concerts, Century Cinemas 16, and Shoreline recreation – without the traffic jams and parking hassles.
  • Enables NASA Moffett Field redevelopment to be even greener and more state-of-the-art.
  • Increases Mountain View’s competitiveness in attracting and retaining employers.
  • A svelte PRT crossing eliminates the need to build an large, expensive, environmentally impacting road bridge over Stevens Creek between NASA and Shoreline Business Park near Crittenden Lane.
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