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It is feasible to use Santa Cruz County’s 30+ miles of existing railroad tracks as bidirectional PRT guideway, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars and (we hope) reducing any controversial aspects of PRT implementation. One way to accomplish this would be through a patented approach known as RailPods.

The system could start with a minimum number of stations, such as Watsonville, Aptos, Capitola, and Santa Cruz. Serving Watsonville (and perhaps Davenport and Felton) from the very beginning would be a huge bonus! Additional stations, spurs, and loops could be added as dictated by demand.

The system would require some overhead crossings and turn-around locations. It could be functional (but not “pure” PRT) even without a fully dedicated guideway. Many of the street crossing locations could be handled with basic traffic control and/or traffic awareness. I think people could still walk across the tracks!

For any freight purposes, the tracks would remain intact and fully available during hours when the PRT isn’t running.

The company that holds the patents is still in business, but now has a different focus. For more information about this system, please see the following links.

Engadget: The RailPod is one track short of a train car, the future of transportation?
Mass High Tech (archived): Rail-Pod hopes to use empty tracks for small rail cars
Patent US8720345B1: Personal transit vehicle using single rails
Patent US9669847B2: Switching device configured for operation on a conventional railroad track