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Personal Rapid Transit back on Department of Transportation's plate

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Crazy space-age boondoggle, enviro-friendly solution to clogged highways and dirty air or potential drain on limited public funds more proven modes of public transport? Either way, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has put Personal Rapid Transit back on the burner -- in a modest way. The agency says its new request for PRT information should not be read as an effort to find taxpayer funding from the Legislature this session.

That's probably a good thing, since the state is grappling with a huge budget shortfall.

But because of what it calls private-sector interest, "it is in the public interest to gather information about these projects. At a minimum, future PRT implementation has implications for trunk highway right of ways and therefore it is appropriate for the Commissioner of Transportation to understand how PRT may be deployed in Minnesota."

In a symposium last November, Mn/DOT commissioner Tom Sorel said, "We owe it to our citizens to explore these kinds of things."

There's a good, if critical, review of Minnesota's on-again, off-again affair with PRT at the Minnesota 20/20 Web site here.