Heathrow Airport Gets Fleet of Electric Shuttle Cars

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For those eager to absolve the carbon guilt caused by yet another international flight, Heathrow airport is trialling an innovative electric car shuttle fleet to ferry passengers to and from the business car park.

Seeing as Heathrow is the world’s busiest international airport, I suppose the effort is a little bit like launching an attack on a saber-toothed tiger with a blunt knife, or maybe a feather duster… But hey, maybe I’m being unfair – I suppose you’ve got to start somewhere right? And I admit, the system does seem a bit nifty – if not quite as good as the Johnny Cabs (video) in Total Recall.

Upon arriving at the airport, up to four weary travellers and their luggage will board a bubble type vehicle which will then whizz them to Terminal 5 with the assistance of a computer guidance system – apparently in “style, and in comfort.”

The £25 million ($41 million) project has been lauded as an attempt at making transportation at the airport greener. The bubble EVs can reach speeds of 25mph (although even this seems a bit fast in a busy airport car park) and according to manufacturer Advanced Transportation Systems Ltd., “will do away with waiting for diesel eating buses.”

The system, known as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), will be complimentary to users of the business car parks, and consist of 21 cars working around the clock seven days a week along the two and a half mile route to and from the terminal.

The company has plans to roll similar systems out to cities all over Britain.

Professor Martin Lowson, inventor of the ground breaking vehicles said, “We believe that our PRT system can transform cities in the 21st century to provide the optimum form of environmentally friendly urban transport, relieving congestion and reducing emissions.”

Now all we need to do is get people to use them for everyday journeys of more than two and a half miles… Oh, and do somthing about the carbon record of the aviation industry (but that’s another story).

Image Credit – Advanced Transport Systems

Andrew Williams

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.