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Please find below the judging results for your proposal.

Finalist Evaluation

Judges'' comments

This looks like a huge infrastructure project. If the reference point is an extensive high-speed rail system, the costs seem moderate, but it remains unclear whether that high-speed rail system will ever be put in place. Hence, where should the capital come from? Also, how is power transmitted from solar panels to the vehicles, via wireless charging? What are usage estimates underlying the surprisingly precise transit fares?

The authors make an interesting proposal but there are a few problems. This would be a huge infrastructure project. The cost estimates seem to be quite low for what is proposed but still massive. You can check the cost of installing the silver line on the DC metro (train) to see how much elevated tracks cost. It is ins't clear that infrastructure to handle cars would be cheaper given the weight requirements and wider width required. One major issue not addressed is how to build a road above existing roads. The social acceptance of elevated roads is not high in urban areas. Building them in remote areas still has issues with building around existing roads, bridges, power lines, etc. The concept of automated electric vehicles is interesting and may be able to come true without the elevated highway. Autonomous vehicles are likely to come to fruition before such a large infrastructure project could actually get approved in the current political environment. The concept of renting out personal vehicles is becoming more acceptable with Uber.

There seem to be a lot of assumptions and calculations, still the overall concept / results seem a bit overly optimistic

This is certainly a well written and extensive proposal. Several components of this idea have merit:-using exclusive lanes for automated vehicles that drive as a train, -using the right of way / highway covering for PV installation- coordinating automated EV (PRT)Yet, the entire proposal, of elevated guideways does not seem to be supported by economics especially when compared to existing, much more efficient alternative: high speed rail.Essentially, the author does not seem to have conducted a thorough technological assessment and supportable cost/benefit analysis of the proposal. I will just pick one example:The proposal states:"A comparison to commuter rail traffic in the New York to Washing DC corridor shows it is much less expensive to use Freedom Transit. The current Amtrack schedule:Amtrak Acela Express 2103 New York to Washington,fare $180.00 time 6:00 am & 8:00 am travel time 2 hr 50 min. The same route on Freedom Transit would be available 24/7 and cost $82.65 per vehicle not per passenger and travel time is 1 hr 30 min. 1 hr and 20 min faster. The $82.65 Freedom Transit fare includes the vehicle rental for the trip, the toll, and the energy used.”The distance DC-NY is 230 miles. For the travel time to be 1 h an 30 min as claimed, the average speed of the cars should be 153 mph. Therefore, max speed should exceed 180 mph to account for the low speed segments. First, there are no commercial EV’s that can sustain this speed currently, second, consumption for a single trip will be 350kWh just from basic aerodynamic calculation. A battery pack to support this amount of energy for a single trip will be prohibitively expensive (USD87500 for Tesla’s cost of $250/kWh) and weigh 1750 kg. If the author expects the cars to charge somehow while on the guideway, he did not say so and did not explain the technology to do so.And finally with regard to cost. Acela, has an already built and basically paid of infrastructure, so it only has to cover maintenance and yet they charge USD180 for the trip. How can a infrastructure with lower ridership, trying to pay of its capital cost, and with vehicles that cost a fortune, be cheaper? Where are the cost calculation to show this?Just by taking this corridor, the cost of building an elevated highway is estimated conservatively at USD40 million / mile i.e. USD9.2 billion for the DC-NY corridor. For a meager 5% return on investment, it would need a revenue of 460 million / year. Assuming that the super-expensive EV s could be rented for USD28 for the trip (which is the cost of an average zip car) it leaves a generous USD55 for the infrastructure. That means it would need 8.4 million vehicle trips /year to break even. In passengers, it would be perhaps 12.4 pax-trips /year. For comparison, Amtrak had a record of 3.3 million pax-trips in 2013 for the entire Acela corridor…So to summarize, I urge the author to focus on parts of the idea that do have promise (outlined above), and pay more attention and support the techno-economic assessment of the re-thought proposal.

The proposal is interesting innovative and of great potential impact. I have always thought about something similar as the real solution for travelling and really hope this could be realized in the next future. My only big concern is about the costs. The authors say that the much lower costs with respect to the rail infrastructure are due to the fact that: "Transit is built over ground level traffic with no need to disturb existing roads". This is unclear. Are we speaking about a new infrastructure built over an existing freeway? How this could not interact with crossing roads? For instance with roads passing over the existing freeway? Much more explanations about these construction aspects and related costs are really needed.

Semi-Finalist Evaluation

Judges'' ratings


Judges'' comments

I commend the authors for the significant effort they put in their idea. What they have failed to show is how the elevated guideway for the same passenger throughput could be (i) cheaper, and (ii) faster than high speed rail. Their cost/benefit calculations don't add up. More importantly, Personal Rapid Transit systems are already available in some locales and so are automated cars - the authors do not adequately justify the need for the very complex guiding system they propose which could simply be relegated to different levels of guidance in automated vehicles on existing infrastructure. Although, I did want to like this proposal, it does not provide a feasible way for tackling the sustainable transportation transition challenge.

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