Cost of Guideway
The TriTrack guideway is a vital portion of the TriTrack system, and needs to be in place for the cars to be very practical. A guideway building machine called the TriTracker has been developed that will be able to create new guideway at 3mph. This is very fast, and a grid for the city of Austin could be installed in just a few months.
The guideway is not expensive to build either. It will cost approximately $150,000 per mile, compared to at least 10 times that much for highway lanes. In addition, the capacity of one lane of TriTrack guideway is over 9,000 people, equivalent to 3-4 highway lanes. This further reduces the cost per equivalent mile.
We can keep the costs so low because the guideway is not over-designed for its purpose. Picture a highway. The highway has to be big enough to transport the population to work at peak commute times, and it also has to be strong enough to carry 18-wheelers. Because we only allow TriTrack cars on the guideway, it only has to be strong enough to carry those cars. The result is a dramatic reduction in materials. Combine this reduced cost of materials with reduced labor costs, and the cost per mile quickly drops.
Once roads have been built, they have to be maintained. Road maintenance is where the majority of transportations budgets go. Of course, the TriTrack is not immune to this issue, but it does have some advantages over asphalt.
Because the guideway is so inexpensive to build with the TriTracker, rather than try to fix a worn-out guideway, it can just be replaced. The primary cost of building guideway comes from the cost of raw materials, and these materials are easily recycled. The outer aluminum can be melted down and re-extruded, the center concrete can be crushed into new aggregate, and even the reinforcing steel can be recycled.
An Arkansas extruder has tendered a quote for the outer aluminum portion of the guideway at small prototype volumes. The cost for the initial track section is $54.25 per foot ($290,000 per mile). In mass production, the cost should be just ¼ or less of this initial number. Even at prototype prices, it is easy to see the tremendous savings to the taxpayer.