An aerial mass transit system consisting of personal maglev podcars may be coming to the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, city officials say. Mayor Ron Huldai announced in March that his city aims to become the world's first to use the SkyTran mass-transit system, co-developed by NASA and SkyTran, a private firm based at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.
The SkyTran system consists of pods that hang from overhead connectors levitated by magnetism. Each pod carries two people, giving the riders privacy and a quiet ride due to the pod's magnetic suspension. The pods can be hailed by phones, tablets or computers and, according to SkyTran, arrive almost instantaneously. When the pods leave the station they enter a continuously moving stream and only stop at their destination.
The system was first proposed in 1990 by inventor Douglas Malewicki and is now run by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jerry Sanders Jerry Sanders, an attorney and entrepreneur. It has been considered by municipalities including St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, Mountain View, California, and Missoula, Montana. Tel Aviv's interest is the most concrete yet.
"We are hoping that this innovative project will be up and running as soon as possible, but we do not have a specific date," city spokesman Mira Marcus told Wired. "The SkyTran is still in the planning process."
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the Tel Aviv system would be privately owned. Rides would cost more than a bus but less than a taxi fare. Sanders told Bloomberg he is in talks to raise $50 million to build a four-mile line that would connect Atidim Park, Tel Aviv University, and a shopping and restaurant district at the city's north end. Construction would take an estimated 18 months.
Sanders said other cities considering the system include Netanya, Israel, Stavanger, Norway, and two cities in the southern Indian state of Kerala, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
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