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JUNE 2013


The rights of Matthew Price to be identified as the Author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988

ŠMatthew David Benbow Price 2013


CAN A MODERN PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM BE SENSITIVELY INTEGRATED INTO A HISTORIC TOURIST DESTINATION? Cars and their requirements are detrimental to the historic urban environment; parking, signs and traffic control distract from the attractions which draw visitors to the town or city. Historic towns should not be treated as museums, but should be allowed to breathe and meet the requirements of 21st century living.


Please refer to the Research Summary in M154ID for full research findings

All images created by Matthew David Benbow Price unless stated


The Residents - Richard & Susan

Richard & Susan have lived in Windsor for 35 years. Richard has difficulty walking and so uses a wheelchair for long distances. With PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) his wife, Susan, is able to take him into town without too many problems. In the PRT there is space for him and his chair, as well as full control over the vehicle.

The Weekenders - James & Lucy

James & Lucy are expecting their first child in just a few months time. The two commute into London everyday, however they enjoy coming into Windsor during the weekends to do shopping, have a coffee and meet up with friends. Due to the PRT system, Lucy is not required to walk too much - and when the baby does arrive there is plenty of room to store the pram in the vehicle.

The Visitors - Sakito & Ai

Sakito & Ai are from Nakamo, Japan. The two were married a month ago and are travelling to Europe for their honeymoon, their first stop being London and the surrounding area. Upon arriving at the airport, they take a train to Windsor and then a PRT from the station to their hotel. The PRT system allows the couple to visit Windsor at a leisurely pace, and the vehicle even slows down when passing places of interest such as the Castle and the Crooked House allowing them to take photographs and gain a better understanding of the history of the area.

The Disabled User - Annie & John

Annie was involved in a serious accident three years ago and has had limited control over her legs ever since. Her partner, John, looks after her every need including helping her get around in her wheelchair. Upon arriving at their PRT stop, John orders a vehicle on his smartphone. When the vehicle arrives, its floor is at the same height as the platform, meaning Annie can wheel herself into without any difficulty. Once inside the vehicle she has enough room to turn around and back into a disabled access space. John can then get into the vehicle and sit next to her, as the two begin their journey.


The areas marked in red show areas of highest visitor volume during summer 2011

These two maps show the route of the vehicles. The red route takes passengers over Windsor Bridge and down Eton High Street. The vehicle then makes a loop past the halls of residence of Eton College, before going back over Eton Bridge again. The circle shown on the left marks a depot where the vehicles are stored and cleaned overnight. The green route takes passengers around Windsor Town Centre, past the castle and on towards the Long Walk. The vehicle then stops at Victoria Barracks, the bottom end of Peascod Street (Windsor’s main shopping street), past Windsor Central Station and back towards the River. The blue line links schools, hospitals and sports grounds up with the rest of the route. Here, the vehicle will share the road with other road-users and so speeds up to its maximum speed of 25 mph. It will acknowledge roundabouts and give way signs and use its onboard automation technology to decide when it is safe to move and stop. The orange route is the longest route of the system and can take passengers to Legoland and Windsor Great Park. There is a second depot at Legoland - again, where vehicles are stored overnight. On the edges of - and in some cases within - the route, users can transfer to national and local travel networks, such as bus, boat and train.


Part of my inspiration included the use of exposed metal in product design...

...and the reflective and light emitting qualities of glass.

How the contrasts between modern and traditional designs can work in architecture

and how they haven’t quite got it right in some cases of transport design.

My mood-circles reflects how I want to convey my design. It ought to use glass to reflect the town back at itself, and as the town is fairly geometric the vehicle should also reflect those shapes. It has to be a sophisticated looking and feeling piece of design. It must be comfortable and let the user feel as if it is their own space and it must be both an icon of the town and an attraction in its own right.


As part of my on-going research into PRT I visited Heathrow Terminal 5, where Ultra serves passengers travelling to and from the Business Car Park. Here I was able to experience PRT first hand, for myself. The vehicle approaches a station, where the user can use a screen to input their destination and language. When the vehicle arrives, the glass doors open and the user can board.

Inside the vehicle there is space for 4 passengers and luggage. The user has control over the vehicle, by being able to close the doors and starting the journey. When the vehicle reaches its destination, the user can open the doors when they are ready. The vehicle does not move or open/close its doors unless the passenger requests it.

The university organised a field trip to visit the new depot and see the vehicles of Blackpool’s Tram system, which had been upgraded with 16 Bombardier Flexity 2 trams in 2012. Below is an example of where cameras are being used as rear view mirrors.

Flaps open to reveal the wheels, bogies and electrical systems of the tram. As the tram runs along the sea front, cleaning is crucial to the continued operation of the service due to the sea air which it encounters daily. The vehicle is washed in giant car washes, such as this one at the Starr Gate Depot. This facility also provides sand refilling, as sand helps with friction when braking.


My initial ideas explored vertical shapes and very minimalistic designs

But as development continued as rounded off the edges and corners

I created small sketch models to help with understanding the form and volumes involved in my designs

Eventually I was happy with the design and I started to play with graphics and DRG

The vehicle features a modular design, meaning that the body sides can be interchanged for use in different towns and contexts. For example, the vehicle could be used to transport workers around a large headquarters or tourists around a hotel complex.

These examples show how the vehicle could look if it was used to transport passengers between an airport terminal and an easyJet aeroplane or if the vehicle was liveried up for use in and around London.



As part of my ongoing exploration into interior details, I visited the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden to see what sorts of details old trains featured. Examples are the ornate ventilation vents and luggage rack seen here.

On the exterior of this tram are shown the operator’s name and an ornate border and emblem surrounding it

Inside the Flexity II tram in Blackpool, the driver controlled the vehicle using digital displays and computers in the cab. The passenger space of the tram was open plan, and there weren’t many colours keeping the atmosphere feeling fresh and lively, and most importantly easy to understand. The floors and walls were grey/white, the seats were blue and the safety colour was obviously yellow.

Later in the year, Transport Design were invited to a tour of the Bombardier factory in Derby, to see the production line of the 2010 London Underground S7 & S8 rolling stock. The carriages were open plan, and didn’t not feature any open windows, meaning that all fresh air had to be brought in through air conditioning units throughout the train. Also unusual was the absent of any indication as to what line the carriage was meant for - all the handrails are painted in a standout yellow.

Image sources http://news.images.itv.com/image/file/367/article_383262c29017e1e0_1330432657_9j-4aaqsk.jpeg and http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/34/LUL-S-Stock-special-needs-car.jpg, respectively


I walked around Windsor and found common colours found in the town, such as red


and beige.

from these colours I created three palettes which could be used in my design.

The first is called Streetwise. I have tried to show all the colours found in the town in this palette, focusing on grey tones.

The second is called Royal Windsor and conveys very traditional-feeling and royal colours such as burgundy, deep blue and medium brown.

The third palette is called Cool & Calm and focuses on blue/grey tones, signifying the importance of the river in the town.

I then took the colours I preferred the best and created an amalgamation of the assorted shades to use in my design.

I then looked for a distinctive pattern which could be used in the design to make it especially for the town of Windsor

I designed the grab handle to be used inside the vehicle around the pattern found on street furniture, railings and flower boxes around Windsor. However

UNESCO keeps strict rules on some of its historic towns, and so by keeping the footprint of street furniture to a minimum historic towns have a greater chance of a) being chosen as a World Heritage Site and b) retaining their status

The station can accommodate 6 people sitting and provides some shelter and shade. The design is contemporary and uses concrete, glass and hard wearing laminated wood as its primary materials. The concrete walls allows for space for advertising or integration of interactive maps

The platform length is 14.5 metres long and approximately 4 metres wide.

The average length of a single decker bus is 12 meters, and a double decker is between 9 and 11 meters, meaning that these new stations don’t take up any more space than a conventional bus stop. If there is limited space, the vehicles can be queued up in a line.

Vehicles drive forwards into their bays and start to charge through the inductive charging plates built into the road.

The vehicles can then reverse out of their bay and continue forwards on their journey, just as the PRT vehicles at Heathrow do.

The hat on top of bollards contains laser sensors which help guide the vehicle on its route. Sensors can also be placed in kerbstones along the route of the vehicle.

Examples of street furniture which would be appropriate to embedding laser sensors for guiding the vehicle can be found in Windsor’s Streetscape.

In order to better understand the amount of space everyday tasks such as reading newspapers and looking at maps take up, I photographed my brother as he performed various activities.

To better understand the layout of the seating I organised some colleagues in a form of a rig to act out the interior in 1:1 scale. I discovered that my tilting the angle of the seats closest to the entrance, there would be less turning involved for the elderly in order to sit.

This lead me to design a series of interiors with staggered seating so that personal space would be less of an issue and to also take full advantage of the hexagonal shape of my design. My first design showed how a wheelchair could be incorporated into the bench seating at one end of the vehicle. When required, the seat could be folded down like a cinema seat. At the other end would be a smaller seat, either for children or for placing small items such as hand luggage.

The other arrangement saw the wheelchair assigned a space in the centre of the vehicle. Straps would be available to fasten the chair into place so that it does not move when the vehicle is in motion. The user can also choose which direction they are facing when during their journey. A grab handle allows the user to hold on to the side of the vehicle for a little extra security. Both interiors feature a 1.52m circumference in the centre, giving the wheelchair a clear space for maneuverability.

After much deliberation I decided to go with the first idea as it gave a better user experience and more scope for design-innovation.

From the exercises carried out I was able to put together a complete package of my vehicle As you can see, there is enough space for 7 people to sit comfortably in the vehicle, or 6 and a wheelchair. There is a 1.52m circumference in the centre of the vehicle allowing for a clear turning circle for wheelchair users


At the rear of the vehicle are two 7kw hub motors with regenerative braking built into them. Also situated on the rear wheels are disc brakes and suspension units. Under the floor lie two batteries and an inductive charging which allows for safe, wireless charging of the vehicle at every station. Overall the vehicle has a range of 6 miles.

At the front of the vehicle are a conventional steering rack, suspension units and disc brakes. Under the middle seat is the vehicle’s central computer which acts as its brain.

ECU Control Unit

Front Steering, Brakes and Suspension Units

Radar, Lidar & Pedestrian Detection Systems are located in the front of the vehicle

Underfloor batteries & Inductive Charging plate

Rear Brakes, Suspension Units and Hub Motors

When the vehicle requires maintenance, small flaps above the wheels can be lifted revealing the inner workings of the PRT. If serious work is required, parts can also be accessed from underneath the vehicle.

The complete route is built into the vehicle’s memory, and so when a destination is selected the vehicle can decide which is the best/fastest way of reaching it.

When the vehicle stops in its bays, an inductive charging plate in the floor ensures that the battery is always kept charged.

In the roof of the vehicle are Radar sensors, which are guided by laser sensors built into bollards and kerbstones along the vehicle’s route. These allow the vehicle to stay centred in its lane, as the GPS is only accurate to 1 metre.

Also built into the vehicle is Lidar and Pedestrian Detection Sysytems, which allow the vehicle to “see” its surroundings. Lidar scans the path of the vehicle and instantly creates a 3D image of what the camera can see. It will have a 3D map of the town already in its system, and so if it can see something else in its path it can judge whether it will need to slow down or stop completely. Of course, if the obstruction does not move right away the vehicle will sound an alarm hopefully prompting the obstacle to move. If it does not move, then the vehicle will come to a halt.


Use the app to order the PRT either today or in the future. A map will show your current location.

When choosing the first option the user will be directed to this page, where a time can be selected

If the second option is chosen, the user will be taken to a calendar where a date can be selected

Next the app takes the user to a menu where they can select their destination. The app detects the nearest station for the pickup point.

After selecting their destination, the user is asked how many occupants will be riding and whether they have any special requirements

Finally they will be asked whether they mind sharing their PRT

Before being shown their estimated journey time

and their ticket

Screen such as the one shown allow users to explore the town and see whether there are any PRT vehicles close by. The map can be turned and swivelled and destinations selected by simply tapping. A search option is also available, as is the choice of 6 languages.

Passes will be available to buy in local businesses, post offices and petrol stations in and around Windsor. The pass consists of a printed plastic card with a unique barcode on the reverse and a personalised name for the journey, which will be shown on the PRT when it arrives. Passes must be scanned at the station from which the user would like to travel, and using the touchscreen menus the journey can be organised. Alternatively, the user can swipe their ITSO tickets upon entering the vehicle, if they require the use of another service after their journey on the PRT.

On the home-screen, the user pushes the small “i� in the corner to get to the settings menu

In the settings menu, the user has several options including The user can enter credit card setting a home and work details, an advantage card number location as well as options to or ITSO details set up payment methods

Augmented Reality is also built into the vehicle itself. As the vehicle passes Points of Interest, cards appear on the window. This feature can be turned off by tapping “off� on the window or by disabling the option in the settings of the smartphone app. Users can remove certain cards by waving their hand in front of it. By swiping across the entire window, all cards disappear.

Users can touch on a card which interests them. The card then display additional information about that specific place, such as opening times and admission prices.

Cards also show information about pubs, cafes and restaurants as well as hotels, B&Bs and hostels.

Local news can also be displayed, as well as the weather forecast. Cards can be moved by dragging them with a finger.


PRT Costings Breakdown • 23 Stations // 3 Vehicles per Station // 69 Vehicles • Extra Vehicles to Account for Repairs // 80 Vehicles • 80 Vehicles // €75k each // €6m • PRT Implementation // €3.8m/km // 8km of Track // €30.4m •"

Total Cost // €36.4m

• With a 1.17 exchange rate that makes £31m • To repay over three years, income needs to be £10.5m a year

• Average Ticket Price £3.50, based on 50% usage • 11 vehicles leaving every 5 minutes with 4 passengers in each // 500 passengers/hour • PRT runs from 7am - Midnight daily = 17 hours/day • 500 x 17 = 8500 passengers/day • 8500 x 356 = 3m passengers/year • At £3.50/ticket makes £10.8m/year • £300k/year to cover costs • £300k ÷ 356 = £800/day •"

Spread over 80 vehicles = £10/day/vehicle

To reduce production costs, Windsor PRT will use largely off the shelf technologies and parts. These include: hard enduring rubber tyres, automation technologies made and sold by Volvo, Hellar, MobileEye and Siemens, interior controls & switches by EAO and stock mechanics such as disc brakes, steering rack, hub motors and suspension units.


Windsor’s PRT vehicle as seen from the front

Rear view of the vehicle. The tail light takes the the rear window’s arc shape

Interior of the vehicle. Luxury commodities include spot reading lights, air con and an LCD screen showing the current location of the vehicle in relation to the end destination

The smartphone app in use

The vehicle in front of Windsor Castle

The PRT heading up from Victoria Street

The vehicle stopped at Park Street Station

Profile for Matthew Price

Project Guide: Sensitive Transport for Historic Towns  

A Guide to Matthew Price's final project at Coventry University, where he designed a concept PRT vehicle and system based around the town of...

Project Guide: Sensitive Transport for Historic Towns  

A Guide to Matthew Price's final project at Coventry University, where he designed a concept PRT vehicle and system based around the town of...