Posted by: glennandert | 29-October-2009

The impact of PRT on your wallet

In the old self-drive system, you owned the car. You paid the $45,000 for it. You insured it. You maintained it. You cleaned it. You paid to park it. 

In the pod system, pods are owned and operated by a personal rapid transit company. There are enough of them to make for a competitive and efficient operating environment. You have no up-front capital costs, no maintenance expenses, etc. You simply pay by the passenger-mile, more during high volume times.

When you bought that $45,000 SUV, it was all yours, including the entire down payment. Plus the full loan payment, including interest. The pod is far less expensive than your SUV. Plus we need a lot fewer of them. Instead of about 1 car per person, we need about 1 pod per 6 people. So, in effect, the cost of a pod is shared by the many people that share its use. That brings the effective retail price down to a few thousand dollars, on a per-person basis.

When the transit company buys a new pod, it clearly gets a better deal than you do – it buys them in lots of thousands, after all. The wholesale mass quantity price is considerably less than the retail price.

What are you going to do with that extra $40,000? Hey – send your kids to college so there is somebody around to maintain these things!

It should be obvious that propelling a small lightweight single-person pod will require far less fuel than that SUV you used to drive.

It is way cheaper for the transit company to maintain a fleet of pods than it is for you to maintain your one or two cars. There are relatively few models of pods, in comparison to the old self-drive system where there were literally thousands of models to be maintained. The transit company can benefit from modern factory methods  that keep the pods in peak operating condition, in comparison to the typical car owner that only fixes it when it fails the smog test.

What did you pay for insurance on that $45,000 self-drive car? Maybe $1,500 a year? You’re not crashing pods – so no collision premium. And because you’re not crashing into things, there’s no liability premium. And there’s no point in anybody stealing pods. That private automobile insurance is a thing of the past.

If you commute into the city, you are painfully aware of the cost of parking your car. You don’t park your pod – it’s busy serving somebody else when it’s not serving you. So that cost is now zero.

What about depreciation? A self-drive car that is maintained and operated as designed will run for many hundreds of thousands of miles. And for a lot of commuter cars, replacing the engine after a few hundred thousand miles is about 1/10th the cost of buying a new car. Of course, that’s generally not what happens. We generally don’t replace them because of metal fatigue – instead we replace them because they are no longer stylish, or they are ugly because we’ve abused them, or they are broken due to improper maintenance. So, we get many many more passenger miles out of a pod than we do out of a self-drive car.

What about that two-car garage that’s part of your house? And the driveway? How much of the value of your house is tied up in storing your self-drive car at night? It’s big. You don’t park the pod at your house – it’s still working for others, or being maintained, or stored in lanes that are idle during off-peak hours. So you get all that space back! What are you going to do with it? Convert it to another bedroom or two?

All those cops that were employed to give you traffic tickets can work on something else! And all those fine people in the Department of Motor Vehicles can too.

Let’s face it. We spend an incredible amount of money feeding our vehicles. The pod system puts a huge portion of that back in our pockets.

I’d love to hear from anybody that can offer more details on the financial analysis.

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