£30m Personal Rapid Transit scheme hailed as first example of new transport mode in 100 years.

Heathrow Airport has officially launched the £30m Ultra pod personal rapid transit system which connects Terminal 5 with the business users car park.

Hailed as a world first, and the first new example of transit technology in 100 years, the pods started life as a Bristol University project, and after an ill-fated attempt to introduce them in Cardiff have made their debut in passenger service at Heathrow.

Developed by UK company Ultra PRT, in which the airport has a stake, the system has 21 battery-powered, zero emission pods, which can each carry four passengers and their luggage along a 3.8km guideway. The vehicles are driverless and are guided by laser sensors, embedded in each vehicle, linked to a satellite navigation system.
Airport owner BAA says the pods will carry the 500,000 passengers travelling between the Terminal 5 Business Car Park and the main terminal each year, giving them a smooth and virtually silent five-minute ride. The journey is on-demand and non-stop from start to destination at the touch of a computer screen. Waiting times are negligible with 95% of passengers are served in less than 34 seconds.

Fraser Brown, managing director of Ultra PRT, said: “We’re very excited about the benefits that the Heathrow pod can offer Heathrow’s passengers. Its service is predictable, reduces waiting time and offers reduced journey times; it’s also an environmentally sustainable form of transport that ensures reduced emissions.
“There’s an enormous sense of pride for all the staff who were involved in turning this science fiction dream into a reality at Heathrow and demonstrating the best of British innovation.”

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