Most of the world now lives in mega-cities, where commuters typically spend two to three (and sometimes four) nerve racking, stress inducing, and non-productive hours each day traveling back and forth to work. Meet SkyTran, an elevated, high-speed, low-cost, silent and “green”, personal rapid transportation system that can help solve this issue:

Skytran

  • Elevated: SkyTran flies above the surface traffic and roads. It is a unique velocity-based adaptation of passive magnetic levitation, which means that its vehicles fly in a self-generated magnetic field using a magnetic wing, and they do so without generating harmful magnetic emissions.
  • High speeds: Traveling at 150 MPH, SkyTran is the only system of its kind that can connect the urban to the suburban to the exurban.
  • Low-cost: Less than 1/10 to 1/20th the cost of light rail systems.
  • Silent: SkyTran rides on a cushion of air: no rail-onrail, no rubber on the road.
  • Green: SkyTran vehicles use less than ½ the energy of a hybrid car, and returns energy directly into the grid, without resorting to inefficient batteries.
  • Personal: No waiting on bus or train schedules, no stopping at other people’s stations, no intrusive commuters reading your emails.

In the context of his participation as a speaker in this year’s Demand Solutions and the upcoming Cities Week at the IDB, we asked Jerry Sanders, the Chairman and CEO of SkyTran Inc., about his views on how to improve the quality of life in the cities we live in:

ESCI: The world—and particularly Latin America and the Caribbean—is becoming increasingly urban.   In your opinion, what makes cities unique places to live in?

Jerry Sanders: To paraphrase Willie Sutton—the infamous bank robber who famously said: “Because that’s where the money is”— people flock to the cities because that’s where the jobs are; that’s where people have a chance to succeed despite their station in life (which tends to be more pronounced and crippling in rural areas than in the anonymity of the city); and because that’s where food, shelter and services are abundant and generally within reach.

The success of the cities, however, may also prove to be the cause of their downfall, as crowding—leading to disease and spiraling housing costs—increases, and congestion—leading to gridlock, pollution and stress—dominates the movement of people, and goods.

ESCI: We have become greatly dependent on technology for our daily lives. How can technology and innovation make cities more livable and happier places?

Jerry Sanders: There is a great deal of talk, investment and programs seeking to create Smart Cities that use technology to make cities a better place to live. Environmentally, cities are a much better use of resources and space than suburbs or exurbs. So, indeed, if we can create new smart cities and “educate” existing cities to be smarter, we all benefit.

This is possible by building green buildings (LEED) and modifying existing buildings to be greener. From my perspective as CEO of a smart transportation company, I am always surprised and disappointed when discussions about smart cities ignore smart transportation. You can’t have smart cities with stupid transportation.

ESCI: Mayors from all over Latin America and the Caribbean will be present at Demand Solutions. If you could give a piece of advice to one of them on how to make their cities more efficient, what would it be? 

Jerry Sanders: Start with transportation. If people cannot move in and out of, and within, a city all else is for naught. Leaving people to gridlock and congestion condemns them to soul crushing, stress inducing, and disease causing urban punishment.

Are you interested in how to improve transportation systems in cities? On September 29th, join Jerry Sanders and some of the world’s leading creative minds in Demand Solutions: Ideas for Improving Lives in Cities, a one-day event to discuss innovations and solutions to urban challenges. The event will take place at the Inter-American Development Bank headquarters in Washington D.C. Register here. to attend or to join the livestream.

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