The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority’s (TBARTA) board approved the Innovative Transit Technologies Feasibility Study to examine the technical, financial, and regulatory issues of new transit technologies, including hyperloop, air taxis, and aerial gondolas.
Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature authorized $1 million for TBARTA to study and develop innovative transit opportunities. Through the course of the 12-month Innovative Transit Technologies Feasibility Study, the authority will examine the current state of each technology, future potential, route types, corridor profiles, travel demand, safety and environmental issues, and funding options, among other considerations.
Hyperloop is an experimental form of transportation involving a floating pod that travels inside a low-pressure tube. Because almost all the air is removed from the tube, friction is greatly reduced, and in theory, the pods can reach speeds of more than 700 miles per hour. The study will examine hyperloop’s potential across Florida.
The study scope of the other two technologies will be within TBARTA’s five-county Tampa Bay region. Air taxis are an on-demand, point-to-point travel service between small regional and general aviation airports. The concept was first tested by NASA in 2001 as part of the Small Aircraft Transportation Systems (SATS) Initiative. Aerial gondolas in an urban setting operate more often internationally, with two urban aerial operations in the U.S.: the Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York and the Portland Aerial Tram in Oregon.
A task work order for $220,916 has been executed with WSP USA Inc., under the company’s general services contract with TBARTA, and will conclude with final reports on each of the three technologies by November 2020.