Skip to content
CityLab
Transportation

Whatever Happened to the Downtown People Mover?

A brief history of the trendy transport mode that never quite was
relates to Whatever Happened to the Downtown People Mover?
Jacksonville Transportation Authority

The "downtown people mover" is an automated, driverless transit car that most people, such as Lyle Lanley, would call a monorail. The monorail will end up an asterisk in the annals of urban transport, but there was a brief moment in history when it was the next great thing. In mid-1970s, at the peak of its potential, nearly 70 cities wrote the government expressing interest in building an automated transit system. In the end only three were completed.

Still, the legacy of the downtown people mover is not entirely a failed one, civil engineers William Sproule and William Leder argued in a recent talk. In some sense, it cleared the way for the surge in circulator buses and streetcars taking place today.