Special to the Post
The Richmond City Council voted unanimously in 2011 to explore a public-private partnership city transit technology startup company CyberTran International, Inc. (CTI), seeking to incorporate a Ultra Light Rail Transit (ULRT) system into the city’s General Plan.
Since then, the company has been committed to Richmond even when other cities courted them to leave. Company President Dexter Vizinau has remained committed to Richmond even though he knew the politics in Richmond would be daunting.
Richmond is historically an oil town and well-run transit systems get people out of automobiles.
In 2012, a proposal for Richmond’s light rail system was submitted and accepted by the city. The plan called for a transit route entailing 15 miles of track and 13 stations throughout the city to be phased in in three phases with the first phase being a connector from the UC Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay to the Richmond BART station.
The first phase would provide the campus with access to newly proposed retail, housing and entertainment throughout Richmond. This would allow the city to capture potential spending dollars the campus would bring to the city versus having those on the campus just passing through the city.
The “CyberTran Transit World” proposal is a preliminary analysis of the installation of a light rail system in Richmond. The estimated installation cost of the 13 stations, including an O&M facility, is $319 million.
CTI provided initial design studies and cost estimates for suggested Transit-Oriented Developments (TOD) at nine of the station sites. Preliminary construction and operational cost estimates of the transit system and a revenue projection for the system based on ridership and advertising were also provided.
Based on preliminary estimates, the potential for investment in TOD’s adjacent to nine of the 13 stations is approximately $3.5 billion. This means that with the establishment of the CTI’s ULRT system, the City of Richmond has the opportunity to leverage up to 15 times the investment in the transit system through TOD’s surrounding the transit stations.
Moreover, construction of system is expected to create 1,000 jobs during construction and development of the TODs is expected to create 22,000 jobs during construction and more than 8,000 permanent jobs in the office, retail, industrial and hotel industries.
The plan calls for approximately 8 million square feet of housing with 15% going towards affordable housing.
ULRT is a transit system that is a quarter to one tenth the cost of traditional transit system. It has already been built and tested and only now needs full demonstration and deployment. The system was developed by the US Department of Energy.
It is designed to have low, medium and high-speed applications where one vehicle can travel anywhere it a transit network that grows organically. A ULRT system installed in Richmond including last mile solutions such as car share, bike sharing, and antonymous vehicles make for a transit system that prompts more economic development and provides for a system that for once can become more convenient than the car.
ULRT is a transit system that will potentially pay for itself because it’s less costly to build and operate.