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Pitch

Transit X is developing solar-powered flying pods more sustainable than buses, trains, cars, trucks, and planes. See transitx.com

Description

Summary

In cities around the world, current transportation is in sad shape: commutes are long and stressful, infrastructure is costly to build and maintain, vehicles pollute and emit green house gases, and millions of accidents and thousands of deaths occur every year.

Transit X™ solves these problems and provides non-stop, 24/7, no waiting, resilient, all-weather service that is quiet, attractive, safe, and seamlessly fits within cities, beside highways, and along rail corridors.

Videos and more information available at transitx.com

Pods, each carrying a single rider or up to a family of five, quietly fly above traffic under a narrow track. Destinations are entered via smart phone or kiosk. Passengers board pod at stops that are as convenient as taxi or bus stops. A pod accelerates up a ramp to merge onto the Highline™, traveling non-stop until landing at your destination. A single track provides the capacity of a 12-lane highway. Transit X is a fully-automated transportation network with high-capacity interchanges and stops that provides fast, congestion-free travel. 

Transit X helps make cities both greener and cleaner. Unsightly black asphalt can be supplanted by an elegant ribbon that ties a city together. Transit X can help a city recover its most valuable resources — land and clean air. Once again, cities can have a vibrant and active street life.

Transit X is offered as a service to municipalities and organizations without public funding or capital budgets. Transit X is a privately owned and operated transit and freight service that scales to service suburbs (low density, first-last mile) and the world’s largest cities and mega-cities.

What are the key outcomes and impact of your solution?

Our transportation system is dominated by carbon-based vehicles and contributes a significant percentage of GHG emissions. The current assumption is that the conversion to a carbon-free transportation system will be extremely costly.  Transit X has reduced the cost of infrastructure to the level at which new infrastructure is much less expensive than maintaining the existing roads.

This is similar to how solar has become one of the lowest cost forms of energy and where low costs have led to rapid proliferation of solar power generation.

Transit X will also help achieve dramatic reductions in traffic fatalities and injuries.  We estimate that Transit X will be 100,000 safer than our roads, and perhaps even safer than commercial flights.

What actions do you propose to realize your stated goals?

Public transportation is typically costly and funding new transportation projects is difficult and lengthy.  Transit X has a very different business model.  Because Transit X is extremely low-cost, it is profitable -- even in regions with relatively low population density. This means the build out of Transit X networks can be privately funded using debt such as private bonds or commercial loans -- even crowd-funding.  Municipalities can rapidly adopt Transit X without any public funding or lengthy bids. Transit X pays municipalities 5% of gross revenue to operate over the public rights-of-way.  This model enables the rapid deployment of Transit X across hundreds or thousands of cities.

Who will take these actions?

Transit X has a commitment from its first customer -- a city in eastern Massachusetts. Others will soon follow as Transit X has sent out over 60 proposals to municipalities in 18 countries on 5 continents.  A private equity firm is interested in financing our projects. We would like every municipality to consider our solution to transition to car-free regions without public financing.  It requires a city to adopt a Resolution and Master License Agreement granting rights-of-way in exchange for 5% of gross revenue.  Then, individual route permits can be approved and quickly installed with minimal disruption.  We reach out to commercial developers and major employers to get their support when approaching a municipality.

Target geography

There are over 20,000 cities and towns around the world that would be good candidates for Transit X. Most locations with paved roads have enough density to make Transit X economically viable.  In addition, developing areas that do not have basic infrastructure for water, sewer, or electricity are also candidates.  Transit X provides a unique infrastructure that can provide all the basic elements of a modern city: passenger travel, freight, water, sewer, telecommunications, lighting, energy generation and distribution — all leveraging the same infrastructure.

What do you expect are the costs associated with piloting and implementing the solution, and what is your business model?

Transit X projects will be privately financed and a combination of private equity and debt will be used to finance the capital costs.  A regional operating company will be created for each location that secures financing, builds, operates, and maintains the network.  Transit X is a private, for-profit LLC registered in Delaware, USA and based in Boston, MA.

The design and development of the system is already underway. Many prototypes — both full-size and scale models — have been built. A parametric CAD tool is used to improve collaboration.  Full-size test systems will be publicly demonstrated in 2017 and a safety-certified test track will be completed in 2018. The complete cost of development will approach US$12 million, but individual tests and pilots range in cost from $10,000 to $1M.

Transit X, LLC has been debt-financed with seed capital and grants.  Individual projects will be financed with a combination of debt and equity. Passenger fares, freight fares, and advertising are some of the revenue sources that will make systems profitable.

Timeline

We have signed quotes to manufacture all the key components.  A series of full-size tests will be demonstrated starting in 2017.  

We are building out the production capacity to deploy 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of rail per year in our fifth year.  This is similar to the rate of growth for railroads in the United State in 1850.  We expect our first operational system to be ready by the end of 2018. Our goal is to deploy Transit X in 1,000 cities within 10 years.

Related solutions

This Climate CoLab solution was submitted by Christopher Fry in 2011.  He outlines the concept of a low-cost, personal surface transportation system.  Fry now sits on the advisory board of Transit X.

Personal Rapid Transit grids
Install connected Personal Rapid Transit grids over the urban and suburban areas that house the densest 50% of the US population.

References

Spartan Superway, a project at San Jose State University (competitor)
http://www.engr.sjsu.edu/smssv/index.html

Analysis for PRT solution for Army base in Colorado:
http://www.prtconsulting.com/docs/PRTArmyBaseSustainabilityFinal21909.pdf

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Solution Summary
Transit X: solar-powered flying pods
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