An Oct. 2 joint meeting of the Fayette County Commission and Transportation Committee at Peachtree City Hall provided the first look at a privately-funded proposal to install solar-operated flying pods along some of the county’s roadways.
Above, Transit X representative J.T. Williams at the Oct. 2 meeting of the Fayette County Transportation Committee. Photo/Ben Nelms.
The preliminary proposal from Transit X LLC has the Boston-based company wanting to build and operate a privately-funded solar pod network in Fayette County to carry passengers and freight, using 1,075 pods over a 43-mile network along Ga. highways 54, 74 and 85.
Transit X representative J.T. Williams told the nearly three dozen elected officials and citizens in the audience that the routes were tentative only, adding that, if there is an interest in Fayette, the company would meet with local governments to determine the exact routes.
Though designed to meet in-county needs, Williams said the routes would be expandable and could potentially transport residents to areas such as the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
The company maintains that it will provide non-stop service at 45 miles per hour to 140 stops along the routes, adding that 75 percent of the Fayette population would be within a 10-minute walk to one of the pod lines.
Responding to an audience question, Williams said pod trips would be ordered through a smart phone, with the user identified at the pick-up point through facial recognition. Up to five people, or a total weight of 800 pounds, can be accommodated in each pod. He added that a number of pods would be handicap-accessible, including for wheelchairs.
One of the audience members noted the wealth of cart paths in Peachtree City that already serves citizens, adding his concern that some pod users would exit a pod and commit crimes.
Also in the audience, former state Rep. Virgil Fludd followed, noting that such a transportation option would add more flexibility for citizens, and adding that, “If people want to come to Fayette to steal, there’s already a mechanism for that.”
Fludd’s comments were followed by those of another audience member who explained that he moved to the area from Chicago in the 1980s and noting the prevalence of elevated trains running through the city.
“I never saw anybody steal a TV and get on a train,” he said.
Williams during the presentation said Henry County had “signed up” for a pilot program that would link its principal cities to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. He indicated that other counties, such as Clayton, had been spoken with, yet the only county apparently potentially interested to date is Henry.
As for the future of pod transportation, Williams said the hope is to have a network that encompasses all of metro Atlanta.
As proposed, the company would bear the $263 million total project cost, with payments to local and state governments for right-of-way use totaling an estimated $7.7 million per year. Participating government would have no cost in the network.
If interested, Fayette would initially enter into a non-binding memorandum of understanding followed by a negotiated operating agreement.
As for where the Transit X proposal might go from here, Commissioner and Transportation Committee Chairman Randy Ognio after the meeting said “We will wait for more presentations and discussions.”