Jorge Chapa

TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: Mass Tram America

by , 10/23/07

MASS TRAM AMERICA: Mass transit dream for the future?, mass tram, green transportation system, greener transportation, transportation tuesday, urban transportation

Traveling to work in an old airplane shell powered by renewable energy sound little bonkers to you? Ben Missler from Mass Tram America thinks not, and has applied such principles to the design of a new and very green large-scale transportation system. Instead of your typical mass transit system, he has proposed one which runs entirely on renewable resources, and uses decommissioned airplane fuselages as Tram cars. A lofty goal indeed, but Missler claims it could all be built today with off the shelf technology.


The Mass Tram system is an elevated monorail system that gets its power entirely from renewables. The Tram car, which is being constructed from two decommissioned and stripped down airplane fuselages are attached to the rail system by a permanent motorized wheel. Every 300 or so meters, A support tower is erected to hold the cable in place. Such towers would also be equipped with solar panels and/or wind turbines, which would provide power to the system.

Re-examining mass transit systems is probably going to be one of the main ways by which we can reduce our global carbon emissions, thus improving both our lifestyle and the planet. If this proposal is successful in terms of reducing carbon emissions, and can do so in a manner which is more efficient and as economical as other large mass transport systems, we will all be better for it. Mass Tram expects to have a working prototype in three years.

+Mass Tram America

Via the just recently launched Carectomy, say hello to them for us will ya?

Related Posts

LEAVE A COMMENT

or your inhabitat account below

Let's make sure you're a real person:


10 Comments

  1. Craig Barnes January 9, 2008 at 12:03 am

    I would like to know more about it. Disney did this in the 60′s and its still a good idea. I would like to know the cost of a project. How do I find out more. Please contact me. Craig

  2. Daniel November 26, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    I agree with Ben. Why re-invent the wheel? The technology is call the “train” and the US needs to start playing catch-up with Japan and the EU on it. It’s a damn shame, too, considering we were once the land which contributed greatly to advances in passenger rail

  3. Ergyad.Com » TRAN... October 28, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    [...] wrote an interesting post today on TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: Mass Tram AmericaHere’s a quick [...]

  4. Malin October 26, 2007 at 2:29 am

    “It is very likely that switching to commuter mass transit (even one using renewable energy) could lead to worse air quality rather than better.”

    If the transit only went from place A to place B and didn’t branch out into all the other places where it would be useful that would be the case, A functional mass transportation system needs to go to all the other places too, then people can get rid of their cars.

    Here in Gothenburg where we have a well developed communal transit system it’s very easy to stop by at a mall or other commercal center on the way home (or to work) and buy whetever it is needed. The system utilizes a combination of buses in various sizes, trams and boats. Some rarely trafficked lines are on demand- IE you make a call and let them know you want to go along that line an hour in advance. The system can be improved, I don’t deny that, but it still enables us to go almost anywhere within the city.

    We actually sold our car since we used it so rarely the brakes rusted. We take the tram every other week to a larger grocery store and buy food in bulk. Greens, breads and the like is purchased at a local store between the tram stop and our home or picked up downtown before heading home. Clothes, electonics etc are bought downtown or at one of the local malls. All travels to work/school and to friends are done with the trams and/or busses. I pay an equivalent to 150 USD (1065 SEK) every three months for the busspass which allows me unlimited travel day and nighttime on all lines within the centre zone. Which is huge and includes all the places I want to go.
    The only time when we still need a car is when we go to IKEA to buy furniture. :)

  5. Daniel Rehn’s Reb... October 24, 2007 at 1:51 am

    [...] Mass Tram America Traveling to work in an old airplane shell powered by renewable energy sound little bonkers to you? Ben Missler from Mass Tram America thinks not, and has applied such principles to the design of a new and very green large-scale transportation system. Instead of your typical mass transit system, he has proposed one which runs entirely on renewable resources, and uses decommissioned airplane fuselages as Tram cars. A lofty goal indeed, but Missler claims it could all be built today with off the shelf technology. (more…) [...]

  6. Ben Schiendelman October 23, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Let me put it this way: Those wiry support structures are not off the shelf technology. The single overhead rail concept is not off the shelf technology. If you want off the shelf technology (and well understood construction costs), just give some support to a project like the California High Speed Rail Project – a government agency with partial engineering already done on a SF-LA (and points between) system at 360kph. That’s faster than any current long distance passenger service – the TGV Est in France comes close at 320kph, and the Shanghai Airport Maglev is faster, but short and much more expensive.

    It’s not the technology that’s the problem! The real costs are in right-of-way, and have *nothing* to do with the technology. The reason we don’t have high speed intercity rail is political, and can only change when we’ve first built out urban systems where we *do* have potential for political support.

  7. Bryce October 23, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Outside of a few large cities in the US that already have significant mass transit, I don’t see it taking off across most of the US. Even something like Mass Tram would be very expensive to build initially, and ridership won’t materialize unless it can offer a combination of speed and convenience that cannot be matched by a car. At the end of the day, Americans love their cars. They may hate commuting in them, but they aren’t giving up their cars. They aren’t going to just let them sit either unless it’s too much of a hassle to use them, or there is a significantly easier, faster, and less expensive way to take care of daily commuting.

    We also need to be very careful about what we wish for. Mass transit commuting seems like a great idea, until you consider that people are still going to use their cars for grocery shopping and other short trips around town. Many people now combine those trips into their commute, but if they cannot do that easily, they will take their cars out after work to run a 10 mile errand trip with several stops. It’s hard for a car to warm up to its operating temperature under those driving conditions. Below the operating temperature of the engine and catalytic converter is when a car emits the most pollution. It is very likely that switching to commuter mass transit (even one using renewable energy) could lead to worse air quality rather than better.

  8. ponyboy October 23, 2007 at 8:04 pm
  9. Ben Schiendelman October 23, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Why on earth is this getting reposted? It’s worse than maglev fanatics.

  10. JAMES GEDDES October 23, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    I make it happen, what a great idea, re-uusing fuselages
    instead of destroying them.

  • Read Inhabitat

  • Search Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Browse by Keyword

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
What are you looking for? (Solar, HVAC, etc.)
Where are you located?