The SkyTran Personal Rapid Transit system first proposed by inventor Douglas Malewicki in 1990 is currently under construction at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, Designboom reports.
Instead of relying on wheels and axles, the SkyTran consists of a series of levitating pods that are magnetically levitated from suspended rails lifted roughly 20 feet off the ground. Solar panels attached to the modular guideways will eventually power almost the entire system.
Passengers can call up a pod on their smartphones using mobile apps and get dropped off wherever they need to go.
Stations are simple with just a platform and a stairway every quarter of a mile or so, reducing the kind of infrastructure necessary to expand railway transportation and therefore mitigating public transportation’s overall environmental impact.
As an antidote to the Mediterranean city’s chronic traffic congestion and pollution, which also results in decreased productivity and sanity, Tel Aviv has appointed US consultancy Jenkins Gales & Martinez to bring the maglev system to Israel.
The pods have the ability to travel as fast as 150mph, but in Tel Aviv, they should transport passengers at a speed no faster than 100mph. And there won’t be any traffic jams at stations since a sidetrack will allow other pods to pass.
SkyTran CEO Jerry Sanders says that a standard SkyTran trip will be more expensive than a bus ride, but faster, and cheaper than a taxi ride. Other cities in Israel are also considering importing this futuristic transportation system.
In the meantime, 14 percent of Tel Aviv’s residents have taken up cycling in order to reduce their carbon footprint and avoid traffic.