New concept looks at moving people above I-35 at 100 mph

Curtis Brown has designed a 100 mph six person transportation system that uses rail motors. (Courtesy: Big Bend Strategies)
Curtis Brown has designed a 100 mph six person transportation system that uses rail motors. (Courtesy: Big Bend Strategies)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The question everyone is trying to answer in Austin is: How do we make the traffic situation better?  Over the past several years, the alternative modes of transportation have ranged from urban rails, to commuter trains at the University of Texas, to the use of gondolas.

Austinite Curtis Brown believes he has a creative way to help people move along the freeway and city streets without using any wheels at all. He has designed what he calls the Personal Mass Transit, or PMT, after hearing about the idea for gondolas as a potential new way for travel in Austin. “It was just a curiosity

“It was just a curiosity thing in the beginning when I saw what was proposed I thought there was a better way to do it,” says Brown.

Brown’s design for the PMT would be a system of on-demand autonomous cars designed to carry six people at a time and travel around 100 mph. The system would be constructed on a series of support towers and/or poles with steel pipe suspended between them. The motors would get electricity from the pipe and would move the cars that are attached below.

Brown says the PMT would be cheaper than a rail because it would use a cable system which would require less construction disruption and ultimately fly over roads once completed.

“We’re using some technology that came across from the roller coaster industry. Some of the connections, some of the safeties, some of the redundancies in safeties,” explains Brown, “So, we can move a lot of people very, very quickly. Without interfering with any traffic. No buses, no trains.”

Brown’s business partner, James Moore. estimates a PMT line could be built for around $5 million a mile. He also says that a line routed from the Austin airport to downtown could potentially cost up to $150 million and be built in a little over a year.

“Here’s a viable project. It’s affordable. It’s not going to knock tax payers on their derriere and it’s going to be built in a reasonable amount of time,” says Moore. “It’s time for Austin to show the world we aren’t about traffic jams, we are about mass transit. We think that this technology has so much potential to have such a huge transportation and environmental and density impact in urban areas around the world we’re going to the first reasonable person and first reasonable customer that wants this project to be built.”

Moore and Brown says while their project is still in the beginning stages of development and no safety tests have been conducted, they are currently searching for investors. The partners say they’ve seen interest from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China and Dubai.

The duo says while the concept was developed with Austin in mind they don’t believe the city and state will commit to this type of project since they’re currently focused on road projects.

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