Posts Tagged: david owsen



Community Transit: Private Aerial Urban Transport

Guest post by Charlotte Boffetti.

Community Transit concept. Image via Innovcity.

Dave Owsen is an American industrial and automotive designer. A few years back he proposed an aerial transport system called “Community Transit” where passengers ride in independent cabins which allow them to customize their route. He sees this urban cable car concept as a futuristic transportation system for not only commuters, but also for shipping cargo. The vehicles are shaped and designed to maximize storage space.

Cargo cabins. Image via Innovcity.

Rather than calling the independent vehicles as “cabins”, he refers to them as “cells”. The reason for this is because he was inspired by plants. He envisions covering the “cells” with a special dye (invented by MIT) which effectively captures and converts solar electricity for use in cabins.

Each cell can accommodate up to 4 people. Inside there is a touch screen, which allows passengers to pick and choose their preferred destination. For safety, each cabin has a camera, and riders must register with an identification card. The cells also travel in a dual rail configuration to enable vehicles to bypass one another.

ID cards required to access system. Image via InnovCity.

Since David Owsen is a designer (not an engineer), the visualizations and renderings of this proposal are incredibly stunning. It would be great if all transit systems looked this stylish!

While I’d like to comment on the technical challenges and feasibility of realizing this concept, my background in planning and policy largely prevents me from doing that.

David even thought through the process of washing and maintaining the cabins! Image via InnovCity.

However, from an ideological and urban planning perspective this conceptual private transit system does prompt us to re-examine the meaning of mass transit.

Since Community Transit is a private transport model (similar to that of a PRT), many riders will likely be thrilled that they no longer need to rush into a crowded subway during a morning commute. Or for many passengers, a private “cell” could offer more peace, tranquility and security than other mass transit modes.

However, I feel that these PRT models tend to reinforce the individualistic side of city living. For me, being car-free means that riding public transit is a great adventure each and everyday. Often times, this is the best part cause you never know who you will meet or what will happen — and that’s the story and joy of urban life!



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