Please forgive the over-generalization, but to over-generalize the Democrats are the party of expensive mass transit boondoggles, the Republicans are the party of lung cancer, freeways to nowhere and terror-enabling dependence on foreign oil, and in Orange County members of both parties are against commercial airports unless the flight paths shadow the opposition's neighborhoods. But, believe it or not, there are other political parties operating in Orange County, birthplace of the Libertarians (who are for private roads carrying mass-marketed, tax-free vehicles fueled by medical marijuana), and playground for the Green Party of Orange County.
Our cuddly little Greenies are fixing to discuss their big-view transportation solution: Personal Rapid Transit. PRT is a proposed public transportation mode that would offer on-demand, non-stop transportation between any two points on specially built guideways. The PRT concept, which was born in the 1960s, has influenced the design of existing people movers and proposed mass-transit systems, although no project has yet progressed beyond the project stage. The knocks against PRT are the same ones against just about any transportation mode: cost, safety and public acceptance. And like any transportation mode, no decision-maker is going to get behind PRT until someone can prove ridership will exceed the costs, meaning -- as with any transportation mode -- it's going to take leadership, a resource this county, state and country sorely lacks.
So, like with many other transportation modes, for that kind of top-down support we must travel beyond America's borders, to Heathrow Airport in London, where a PRT system is scheduled to come into operation in 2007, and another at Dubai International Financial Center in 2008.
The next time you're sitting in traffic at the Y, the Orange Crush or the 22, think about this: since the Democrats and Republicans have let us down when it comes to planning our transportation future -- toll roads: what's THAT about? -- don't we at least owe it to ourselves to hear what the Greenies have to say about the PRT SKYTRAN proposal? The featured speaker is Aliso Viejo City Councilman Karl Warkomski. Measure M and your favorite toll-road extension, the Foothill South, will also be discussed. The fun begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, in the Board Room of the Irvine Ranch Water District, 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine. (http://www.ocgreens.org)