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No trains at this transit symposium

Allyn Harvey

Aspen will host some of the most imaginative minds in the world of public transportation this fall, and for once none of them will be talking about rail, buses or highways.

Instead, the engineers, designers, politicians, financiers and transportation experts who assemble for a conference at the St. Regis Hotel in October will be considering systems like CyberTran, Taxi2000 and Magnemotion.

The CyberTran system proposes using large numbers of small vehicles (up to nine passengers) as opposed to the conventional concept of small numbers of large vehicles. The system operates on elevated guideways under complete computer controls (no drivers) that shuttle the cars between stations at speeds of up to 150 mph.

Taxi2000 would create elevated guideways that carry three-passenger vehicles that speed non-stop from station to station. And Magnemotion is an electromagnetic material transport system that the conference promoters describe as “a new materials handling technology never seen before.”

“The whole point of the conference is to get politicians, planners and others to see the transportation options that will be available down the road, the viable choices of the future,” says Bill Flanigan, one of the organizers of the event.

“New Visions in Transportation,” scheduled for Oct. 19 and 20, is expected to draw more than 100 experts in various fields connected to transportation for a two-day symposium sponsored by the National Society for Professional Engineers and the Advanced Transit Association.

The credentials of the speakers vary widely. Some, like Dick Guadagno of InTranSys (a company that is proposing a “suspended pallet system powered by linear synchronous motors for cars and trucks”), appear more qualified to speak at a Star Trek convention. Others, like Susan F. Tierney, former assistant secretary of policy at the U.S. Department of Energy, would probably fit in well at a government retreat on meeting management.

But conference organizers hope the variety will facilitate the discussions needed to get alternative systems built. “The goal is to accelerate the implementation of new technologies,” says Flanigan.

What’s holding that implementation back is the fact that few communities are willing to look beyond traditional modes of transportation – feet, bicycles, automobiles and trains – to solve their needs, Flanigan says. And he points out that there are technological innovations that have been around for a decade or longer that have yet to be utilized, including some that were discussed at a conference in Snowmass Village 10 years ago.

“We’re seeing some of the same ideas trying to get out there,” he says.

In addition to engineers and planners from government and some of the biggest firms in the world, the conference will be attended by local transit officials, including representatives from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Roaring Fork Transit Agency and the Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority.

For more information or to register, call 970-963-6824 or log in at http://www.nvt2000.com.


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