Chaotic traffic, potholed streets, and a chronic lack of parking space are all challenges to making urban life more pleasant and appealing. Some form of mass transit, to move people from one point to another, is a vital ingredient in our efforts to overcome these serious problems.

Decades ago, transportation authorities in some major population centers decided to reduce surface traffic by burying rail systems beneath the ground. This proved to be a very expensive solution. New York City, for example, has nearly 650 miles of subterranean track, built at a cost, in today's dollars, of $150 million per mile!

Subways, for the most part, are no longer affordable.

As an alternative, metropolitan areas have returned to horse and buggy days by reintroducing what amounts to modernized streetcars. Under the euphemistic name of "light rail," these lines perform worse today than in the 1920s in terms of clogging traffic at intersections and hogging valuable lanes of downtown streets.

The other conventional answer, monorail, lifts vehicles above the ground by using archaic steel tracks laid atop endless rows of concrete or steel pillars spaced 60 or so feet apart. These massive, unsightly supports require an entire lane of major thoroughfares, preclude installations along existing right-of-ways, and are expensive. Monorails typically cost $100 million or more per mile.

We at Aerobus think modern transit should not interfere with surface activities. We concur with the concept of rising above grade. We also believe a system must be environmentally sound, relatively inexpensive to install, economical to operate, and fun to ride.

Aerobus technology fulfills these criteria and offers three substantial advantages over ordinary monorails. The first is cost.

Aerobus Cost Comparison
Mass Transit Option Cost Per Mile

Heavy Rail
Light Rail

$300 million+
$150 million+
$100-150 million+
$75-100 million+
$15-30 million

Aerobus spans up to 2,000 feet (600+ meters) between thin steel or concrete pylons which require only a small footprint. Compared to standard monorail supports, these pylons cost less, and fewer are required for a given line. This makes it possible to construct a route capable of carrying from 3,000 to 20,000 passengers per hour per direction for a price as much as 60 percent less than regular monorail systems.

Long, straight runs, possible because Aerobus passes over obstructions, can have as much as an 8 percent grade and deliver speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour. Gentle turns of two or three degrees may be made at each pylon. Sharper turns are easily handled by transitioning from cable-suspended track to a fixed steel rail and then back to suspended track. These capabilities allow for selecting the shortest, most efficient route from one point to another. Which again lowers costs.

Additional savings are possible during construction. Erecting typical elevated guideways frequently requires relocation of existing underground utilities. Aerobus installations do away with this expensive problem. And with Aerobus, street closures are minimized.

All of this gives Aerobus a significant cost advantage.

The second Aerobus advantage also stems from its long-span feature.

An Aerobus line may cross wide rivers, bridge ravines, run up mountain sides, or traverse swamp land. In fact, for some installations, Aerobus is the only practical mass transit option.

The final Aerobus advantage is related to costs but centers on grade-level disruption during construction and the use of existing right-of-ways.

An Aerobus route can be erected above or alongside freeways, bridges, and heavy rail lines. Thinner pylons, fewer supports per mile, and smaller pylon footprints allow construction with little or no interruption of normal traffic flows.

These advantages, along with better aesthetics, the fun factor, faster passages, and operational economies, make Aerobus the outstanding mass transit solution for almost every situation.

©2013 Aerobus International, Inc.