The Elevated Maglev 2-Person Pod Monorail System Shown Just Outside Downtown Houston but Still Far, Far Away

Rendering of skyTran Personal Rapid Transit System in Front of Downtown Houston

What’s this? Some sort of fancy computer-controlled transportation system designed to hover over a new greenway freeway just west of Downtown Houston? Not really. Actually, not even close: It’s a maglev pod transporter all right, proposed by a company called skyTran operating out of the campus of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Northern California. But the system it’s designing is meant for Israel first, not the Bayou City. A background image of Houston’s maybe-not-quite-iconic-enough downtown skyline just seemed suitable enough for one of the promotional images (above) illustrating the SkyTran “personal rapid transit” system, which is meant to pair a low-cost, low-energy, light-weight elevated rail system with cozy, droplet-shaped 2-person vehicles.

Just order one up from your iWatch (or smart phone, if you’re old fashioned) and a pod will swing by and take you and your best buddy where you want to go:


This week, the company announced plans to build a demonstration loop of the system on the campus of an aerospace company in Lod, Israel. Next stop: Tel Aviv. The only U.S. city currently mentioned in the company’s down-the-track plans is San Francisco, though images on the skyTran website show skyTran pods shooting past or through buildings in L.A. and Berkeley as well.

skyTran Personal Transportation System Rendering

Images and video: skyTran


13 Comment

  • Wow, I have never seen so many cars on Allen Parkway. I must be a hurricane evaluation.

  • This is so stupid –reminds me of all that ridiculousness seen in “cities of the future”– BS–this looks like some sad pathetic old Star Trek–yawn, indeed.

  • anything relying on new infrastructure is decidedly not low-cost. could certainly see it feasible for some smaller specific applications but nothing on the scale of lining our freeways and major thoroughfares with this stuff.

  • Great idea that the powers that be would never let come to fruition. Look to Seattle’s experience with the majority of the population supporting it and the city shutting it down with the swipe of a pen. Effective mass transportation should never have to compete with ground traffic.

  • That looks like at least 12 lanes of traffic, bumper to bumper, I guess the designer was all like “no, we need more cars, what don’t you understand, yes, MORE CARS!!!!”

  • Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud.
    Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.
    Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?
    Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.
    Barney Gumble: What about us brain-dead slobs?
    Lyle Lanley: You’ll be given cushy jobs.
    Grampa Simpson: Were you sent here by the devil?
    Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I’m on the level.
    Chief Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.
    Lyle Lanley; Take my pen knife, my good man. I swear, it’s Springfield’s only choice! Throw up your hands and raise your voice!
    All: Monorail…

  • Well, we will need this if all those condo towers start popping up in 12 months.

    I will say that as a child, nothing was as cool as riding the monorail at Disney World from the hotel to the theme park (sans Epicot at the time–feeling old . . . .). Smooth, quiet, and whisking you to see Mickey above all the traffic down below.

    It is actually sad that monorail is so off the wall expensive because it really could be an amazing public transit system. It is clean, quiet, does not interfere with existing traffic (I am talking about you, light rail) and very comfortable. I guess we will just have to wait for Mr. Musk’s pneumatic tubes.

  • Mr.Clean19, of what are you partaking??
    Curious minds want to know.
    Anyway, I feel this sort of transportation will come to pass – not far-fetched at all
    Imagine our grandparents who grew up with horse-drawn milk wagons and died while driving an internal-combustion auto and chatting on a cel phone!

  • Do you remember to monorail that was going to go down the middle of Richmond? I think that was Mayor Kathy Whitmire’s big plan for the future.

  • A monorail is nothing more than a subway in the sky. Why would it be quieter and more comfortable than a subway or light rail? Have you ever ridden on the EL in Chicago? Talk about comfort and quite, geez.

  • Bubba.

    The El in Chicago is not a monorail, and it’s more than 100 years old. I think a more applicable comparison would be the Las Vegas monorail, built in 2004. That being said, monorails are traditionally a lot quieter than light rails or subways.

  • movocelot:

    Google “Ogdenville, North Haverbrook, and Brockway”.

  • On one hand, I feel sorry for movocelot for not getting the obvious reference. On the other, I envy him/her, because he/she can now go enjoy one of the best episodes of any tv show for the first time.