Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NEW BLOG - The Personal Rapid Transit Boondoggle

Mark Olson is no longer in the MN legislature, but his boondoggle lives on...

Read the latest, goofy PRT news at The Personal Rapid Transit Boondoggle blog.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's Final: Rep. Mark Olson Dumped

Right-wing bloggger and Michele Bachmann fan Andy Aplikowski:

Officially disgraceful Republican Mark Olson is guilty of another indiscretion of abusing a great woman. Yep, he cost Allison Krueger and the Republicans a State Senate seat. He and his band of self obsessed people in SD16 decided they would run a write in campaign with absolutely no chance of winning.

Well guess what, Olson got a lowsy 316 stinking votes. But that’s not the problem, the Republican on the ballot, Allison Krueger, lost by just 89 votes.

Triple A's rant about Olson continues...

Yes, that’s right. Mark Olson and his buddies up in SD16 caused the Republican candidate to lose. I hope they are excommunicated from all ties to the Republican party. I hope Mark Olson never shows his face at a Republican event, and if he has the nerve, and I am there, I will not be responsible for my actions. (no violence on my part, but oh boy there will be one hell of a scene)

I hope you are proud of yourselves, Olson, Wilson, and crew. Your little collective tantrum up there is now going to cost us a ton of money next election. You took a Republican district and made it Democrat. Yes, YOU caused the Republican loss. Now we (the Republicans who understand how the Legislature really works) are going to have to spend a ton of money to knock off the Dem in 2010.

Way to go asshats, you took out one of our own.

Payback is a bitch, but don’t worry, you have yours coming soon.


I will leave this blog up in case he runs again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Dump Mark Olson Blog Going Back Into Mothballs

Since the Ithaca Podcar Conference flopped and Rep. Mark Olson's write-in campaign is heading toward likely defeat in November, I'm not going to be wasting time following the pathetic antics of Rep. Mark Olson or his pals the Personal Rapid Transit pod people anymore.

I've closed the comments again so I don't have to bother removing the comments of PRT trolls.

If readers have some really important tips they can still contact me at my g-mail account on my profile like PRT booster Larry Fabian did recently:

Lawrence Fabian to me

How was the Ithaca conference a "bust"?

See the NYT piece on LIRR worker abuse? Like them union types, Mr. Ken?

Lawrence J. Fabian
Trans.21  Boston

Yeah, right Larry... let's replace the Long Island Railroad with automated non-union pods... I can really see that happening.

As for the puff piece in the Metro section of the NY Times... we've seen those before... the Jetsons meme, Morgantown, the vague descriptions of studies and projects here and there:

“I think all of the major players were at the conference with their ears wide open,” Mr. Roberts said. “They said they are very interested and looking forward to learning more.”

His group, Connect Ithaca, is now working on the next step: applying for a $75,000 grant from the State Energy Research and Development Authority to study how a pod car system could reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled in Ithaca. Mayor Carolyn K. Peterson said city officials would wait for the study’s findings before going any further.

Connect Ithaca's website is still down... and Connect Ithaca wants $75,000 of the taxpayers' money for a study?... New York could save the taxpayers that money and just download the PDF of the study of PRT that New Jersey wasted money on last year.

Or maybe they can just go and take a look at the PRT going into the DestiNY Mall in Syracuse:

A transportation network that includes monorail and a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system will connect the complex to Hancock International Airport, the Inter-Modal Transportation Center, DestiNY USA and beyond.

..where else did I read that there is going to be a PRT at the DestiNY Mall?... oh yeah, Wikipedia.

No matter how many times Rep. Mark Olson or his "Jetsonesque" pod-transit scheme flops, they will always be in the news... how may chances do these guys get?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Podcar Conference a Bust

The Pod People have been hyping their silly conference for months. The Catherine Burke opinion piece in the LA Times was the opening shot in what I thought would be a barrage of publicity. I'm sure they also expected to see some national publicity come out about the conference.

In the last few days... (crickets).

The Connect Ithaca web site is still down.

There was some very silly local TV news reports on the conference:

A notable absence from the conference was would-be PRT vendor Taxi 2000/Skyweb Express... not even mentioned on the vendor page.

Olson still links to Skyweb Express on his campaign website.

Here's Olson and the Taxi 2000 pod back in the days when both were riding high in the media spotlight:

Olson Files Paperwork for Write-in Campaign

MPR reports that Olson has filed with the the Secretary of State’s office for a write-in campaign.

H/T MN Publius .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Is PRT also an Environmental Regulation-Busting Tool?

The invasion of Ithaca, New York by PRT pod people continues (scroll down)... but this post is about the ongoing invasion by pod people in Alameda, CA.

I've documented how PRT has been used by anti-transit, road warriors like Rep. Mark Olson to block and delay funding for conventional transit, particularly commuter and light rail transit. Now, PRT is being used to bamboozle citizens in Alameda into scrapping Measure A, a ballot initiative aimed to regulate development.

Marc Albert in the Alameda Sun:

SunCal is scheduled to present more fleshed-out plans to city officials Sept. 19. The public, invited to weigh the merits of two potential scenarios, one with 4,000 units, the other with 6,000, continue to be alternately wowed by futuristic amenities including proposals for a solar power plant and monorail, yet dismissive of both options for running afoul of the city's anti-growth statute, Measure A.

The 1972 ballot initiative regulates lot size and forbids construction of housing units that would accommodate more than two families. The developer has put forward two potential options, both of which would require a ballot initiative, likely in 2009, that would waive Measure A at least at Alameda Point.

Instead of offering a real solution to the transportation needs of the people who move into those additional 2,000 units, Suncal offers an imaginary, snake-oil solution - PRT... CLEVER!!!

Suncal made it's case to the Alameda City Council on September 10th:

Traffic jams and empty storefronts were two of the main concerns of the City Council and the community at Wednesday's special meeting focused primarily on developer SunCal's latest concept for the former Navy base.

SunCal's 6,200-plus residential unit proposal included self-described "visionary" features: a possible "solar farm" to generate energy and heat; a Bus Rapid Transit system to encourage public transit use and ease traffic; and a Jetson-like Personal Rapid Transit system, which would shuttle people in small computerized electrical vehicles on an elevated roadway to transit hubs.

When pressed by Councilmember Doug DeHaan, the SunCal consultant conceded that the overhead roadway with the computerized vehicles may not be viable, but should it work out, it would be extended throughout the island. Developers in years past had extolled the virtues of a ski-lift-like gondola that would transport people back and forth across the estuary, and another proposal called for a BART system to do the same task underwater. Neither idea made it past the dream stage.

But, the fate of Suncal's project at Alameda Point may be already sealed by the collapse of Lehman Brothers:

Lehman invested heavily over the last few years in California's real-estate market through its financing of Irvine-based SunCal Companies.

The firm wrote down its investment in SunCal from $2.2 billion to $1.6 billion earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

UPDATE: Suncal denies they are in trouble.

Here's Suncal's presentation at the Alameda City Council September 10th:

Debbie Cook Does Not Appear at the Ithaca Podcar Conference

Looks like Congressional candidate Debbie Cook will not appear at the Podcar Conference as the Podcar website claimed.

The current program says the following:

Video Message from Debbie Cook, Mayor of Huntington Beach and candidate for US Congress (D)

Why the "(D)" after her name It should not matter to a supposedly non-political group what party she belongs to. But matter it does since the Pod people are sweating that Republicans will be out of power in January and it is the anti-transit, right-wing fringe that Rep. Mark Olson comes from that supported PRT in Minnesota.

But, Gus Ayer was there... Gus from last year's Podcar conference:

Local TV News Coverage of Wacky Podcar Conference

Hilarious... a bunch of Swedes and a local developer peddling PRT snake oil with a wacky "bubble and beams" CGI video. The developer Frost Travis predicts that Ithaca will be covered in bubbles and beams in ten years.... interesting that the website for Connect Ithaca website is down... is Jake Roberts still working for Connect Ithaca?

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Ithaca Podcar Conference

Mark Olson's pals, the PRT Pod People are having a conference in Ithaca, NY this week. Get ready for more PRT hype like the Catherine Burke commentary in the LA Times and the Star Tribune sparking yet another Treehugger blog post about the pods and in the LA Times Bottleneck blog.

If last year's conference is any guide, the Pod People will be dissing traditional transit as much as talking about their non-existent cyberspace fantasy. Here's a video showing two of last years' Podcar Conference speakers bashing conventional transit... Ron Swenson described LRT as "parasitic".

Someone should ask Olson's old friend and legislative colleague Congresswoman Michele Bachmann whether she still supports the pods like she did in 2004.

Here are some questions I put on the Cornell Sun story's comments:

Who are the "generous sponsors" funding this Podcar Conference?

Why are traditional transit organizations not participating?

Why is a conference about the future of Ithaca's public transportation infrastructure charging citizens $90 and students $60 to attend?

Why did the Podcar Conference pick Jake Robert who has little or no expertise in transportation to host this conference? According to a recent Ithaca Journal article, Jake did a heckuva job running the Ithaca Festival (into the red).

Incidentally, Jake's Connect Ithaca website been down for days:

For laughs, watch this old KARE 11 report on PRT featuring Rep. Mark Olson....

They cut out the part where Olson declares PRT "the Microsoft of public transit"... watch it here.

Here's Olson wasting legislators time with one his failed PRT amendments:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rep. Mark Olson Says "There is Corruption"... Where?

Jennifer Edwards reports in the West Sherburne Tribune:

Olson says he is planning a write-in campaign in November and indicated he felt some votes were missing, uncounted from Orrock and Zimmerman.

"I'm filing the paperwork as we speak," he said Thursday. "People are very upset about how awful, how malicious their campaigning practices were. The only way to get it all out there is a continued campaign."

Olson blamed legislative leaders in St. Paul for contributing to his defeat, saying they cut him off at the knees with illegal campaign brochures.

"There is something wrong with this picture. Candidates who are brought and sold never represent the people. They represent the people who brought them," he said. "There is a cause here. there is corruption involved. Money and power are driving this. I have stood up against the influence of money more than anybody down there, Now I am paying the price."

Corruption? Really!?! I hope Olson contacts the FBI.

Public corruption is a serious problem according to the FBI:

Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top investigative priorities—behind only terrorism, espionage, and cyber crimes. Why? Because of its impact on our democracy and national security. Public corruption can affect everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts…to the quality of our roads and schools. And it takes a significant toll on our pocketbooks, too, siphoning off tax dollars.

Olson's PRT pod buddy Dean Zimmermann was investigated, tried and convicted of public corruption.

Speaking of PRT, there was a PRT-promoting commentary in the Star Tribune on Saturday. I left a comment about Olson and Zimmerman promoting the pods and it was removed. Here is the screenshot of the comment they removed:

I left a another comment that is still up:

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann Supported PRT

In 2004, Rep. Michele Bachmann co-sponsored legislation for PRT and promoted PRT with Rep. Mark Olson and former Minneapolis councilman Dean Zimmermann.... Does Rep. Michele Bachmann still support spending millions of taxpayers' dollars on PRT research?

While we are still on the subject of pods, check out hilarious blog post by Lyle Zapato about the podcar commentary (originally in the LA Times):

Benefits that monorail podcars have over traditional monorail trains are that when one bursts into flames, only four people will be roasted alive, and you won't be able to fit a frightened elephant inside one. Also, when they stall (and they will), you can get out and push.

Podcars are a poor mimicry of the superior Inteli-Tube pneumatic transportation system* and were designed to confuse the car-obsessed public into building more dangerous monorails.