Special to the Post
The politics of CyberTran International’s Inc. (CTI) Ultra Light Rail Transit (ULRT) system is thick.
“We don’t have engineering problems, our problems are political” said CTI President Dexter Vizinau.
“Thereis an institutional bias against by the status quo transit agencies, organization and groups,” he said. “When the automobile was first introduced horse traders hated it. When automated elevators arrived, elevator operators vehemently opposed it.
In 2008, BART conducted an ultra light rail study, which determined that the system cost one quarter of the expense of the BART system and half the cost to operate and maintain.
CybTran never allowed the study to be published due to proprietary information but it is available for review. BART is also PG&E’s biggest customer; it heavily taxes the grid.
Ultra light rail operates on solar and generates eight times more energy than it consumes.
Like buses, ultra light rail can go down wide major boulevards but have a smaller footprint because the trains are elevated. There are no drivers on these trains – therefore driver unions like BART’s union have issues with the technology.
Ultra light rail is less intrusive than BART or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Though it has a smaller footprint and is less costly to build it can go more places and more of it can be built. It is not always in some’s best interest to save money.
The more money spent, the more jobs are created. In April 2010, after BART lost $70 million in federal funds due to community access issues regarding the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, then the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) chair, wrote BART requesting it consider ultra light rail as a demonstration project for the airport connector.
The proposal fell on deaf ears. The OAC was built at a cost of $500 million. The cost of ultra light rail was estimated at $100 million.
The airport connector lost federal funds because it was built with no stops along the way, thereby cutting community access. Adding stops would have defeated the purpose of getting riders from BART to the airport quickly.
Multiple stations do not slow down the ultra light rail system. CybrTran’s system is direct to destination no matter where riders board and get off because their stations are not on the main line. The vehicles travel off the main line to pick up and drop off passengers.
Buses, driverless cars, bikes and shuttle services will always be great last mile solutions. But they will never be able to carry passengers over long distances, like from Oakland to Sacrament, in less than 40 minutes.
Ultra light rail trains are designed to reach speeds well over 100mph and go down major thoroughfares to highways and travel the mediums.
The California High Speed Rail (HSR) will travel at speeds over 200mph and will get riders from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just over two hours at a cost of $68 billion. Only seven stops are planned.
More stations would slow the system down. Currently, there is only $12 billion on hand to build the high-speed rail system.
Estimated cost to build a statewide network using ultra light rail is approximately $10 billion. Travel time is close to three hours on this system.
Stops do not slow the system down because the system is direct to destination.
Ultra light rail, when deployed, will expand and grow. Separate systems can be connected with lines where vehicles can travel between cities and regions.
Eventually it can be much more convenient than autos and thereby reduce oil consumption, greenhouse gases and traffic congestion.
With the help of the City of Richmond, CyberTran was able to get a federal program created to fund the demonstration of technology like ULRT.
Funds were appropriated to the program with passage of the spending bill in December 2015. The decision to release the funds is in the hands of President Obama.
CyberTran President Dexter Vizinau is hopeful that members of Congress will encourage the president to release the funding before leaving office, though institutional stakeholders want it delayed.