Evoking comparisons to the Jetsons and a particular Simpsons episode with a shiny mass-transit idea, Transit X’s proposal for a privately-funded, fully-autonomous commuter pod system is making Fayette consider if it’s an idea that is ready for the real world.
JT Williams with Transit X presented a preliminary proposal for the project to the Fayette County Transportation Committee to be shared at their meeting Tuesday afternoon, answering many questions, while leaving the assembled crowd still wanting to know more.
The early estimate within Fayette County would be for a 43-mile network of elevated tracks with service to 140 stops, offering stops within a 10-minute walk for 75 percent of the county’s population. Passengers would board the pods at elevated stops branched off of the main route, with parking setups yet to be determined.
Hanging high over the sidewalk and cruising over roadways, each pod would seat up to five people and would be totally solar-powered, with solar cells on the track to charge the pods. Excess energy would go into the power grid, offering another source for revenue.
Pods would be summoned by the riders and travel non-stop to their destination at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour within the county and up to 135 miles per hour along highways.
To keep riders safe, there would be facial recognition technology, ensuring that Transit X knows who is riding inside their pods.
Transit X estimates that at 40 cents per mile, a commute on their pods would cost 17 percent less than public transit and 74 percent less than a taxi.
Transit X pledges that the project would be 100 percent privately-funded, both in building the system and in future upkeep, and local municipalities and right-of-way owners would receive 5 percent of gross revenue, estimated to be about $6 million per year over the first 10 years.
The longterm goal is to have all of Metro Atlanta connected. Preliminary conversations have been held with nearly every county in the metro area, and Henry County has already signed up, with a pilot program in development.
Acknowledging skepticism in the room, the presenter shared that in his conversations with the Atlanta Regional Commission, one ARC representative called the concept “too good to be true.”
Transit X does not yet have an operational prototype ready, but one is expected to launch soon in Boston.
No formal action was tied to the presentation. For anything to move forward, one of the municipalities would have to formally recommend doing so and ask that the county work on a Memorandum of Understanding with Transit X.
Transit X’s full proposal can be viewed on their website at www.transitx.com.