Personal Rapid Transit in Cape May County

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Personal Rapid Transit in Cape May County
Cape May County occupies the southern tip of New Jersey. It is very much a vacation town, with plenty of white, sandy beaches and a summer population that is six times its winter population. The population, as of the 2000 census, is 102,326. The summer population, as of 2001, is 614,261. Much of northern and inland Cape May are filled with swamps, lakes, and uninhabitable wilderness. The area of Cape May with the highest population density is the coastline, and the southern region has the most hotels, restaurants, and retail shops. A Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system for Cape May, aside from providing a means for citizens to get to work and to school, must serve the tourists as their sole method of transportation. Frequent stops at popular state parks, golf courses, hotels, airports, beaches, and restaurants are necessary to maintain Cape May’s status as the second most popular tourist destination in New Jersey.
Some basic information about Cape May County:

  • 256 Square miles.

  • Bordered by Atlantic County to the north, Atlantic Ocean to the east and south and the Delaware Bay to the west.

  • 6 Municipalities.

  • 30 miles of white sandy beaches on the barrier islands with thousands of acres on the mainland preserved for open space, farmlands and natural conservation.

  • Middle Township is the largest.

  • Lower Township is the most populated.

  • Tourism generates over $3 billion a year in revenues.

There are six types of customers who ride on the PRT:

1. Tourists, who primarily travel from hotels to restaurants or beaches or retail shops.

2. Tourists, who travel from outside the county to hotels or restaurants or beachesor shops.

3. Schoolchildren, who travel from schools to residential areas.

4. Adults, who commute between residential areas and commercial areas.

5. Residents, who travel from residential areas to trip attraction-generating areas.
Cape May is particularly suited for a PRT system in that all its area is either densely populated or commercially-useless swampland. Also, it has a tourist population in the summer that is greater than its year-round population. With this PRT system in place, tourists and residents will not need cars.
The “source” of the PRT system will be in the northwest region of the county. This piece of land is bounded by County Hwy 548, County Hwy 605, County Hwy 557, and County Hwy 550. The area is approximately 3.5 miles long by 2.5 miles wide. Around this area are a few roads and even fewer buildings. Currently, this piece of land is undeveloped and dry. The “source” of the PRT system will house the headquarters of the Cape May County PRT System and will be the resting place for not-in-use PRT vehicles.
The placement of the stations provides for an accurate and reliable blueprint when actually building the PRT system. Most stations are placed in parking lots of supermarkets, golf courses, and other tourist and resident destinations. Within parking lots, the stations are placed as close to the destination buildings as possible- right next to the front door of a supermarket, for instance. In residential areas without attractions (and parking lots), the stations are placed in corners of streets atop large patches of shrubbery or public grass. No tearing down of buildings is necessary for the building of any station. The placement of these stations is motivated by the certainty that supermarkets, retail shops, and any sort of place eager to generate trip attractions will not object to having a PRT station in the parking lot.
Stations that serve residential and commercial areas are carefully situated in populated areas, thus ensuring that people feel safe waiting and walking to the stations. There are a few stations that exist only as stopover and transfer points, which are often by freeway intersections, in which case people should not need to leave the station. Roundabout routes are only necessary in the case of people traveling from one barely populated residential area to another. For over 95% of Google-listed restaurants, bars, hotels, supermarkets, department stores, malls, retail shops, banks, coffee shops, movie rentals, pharmacies, golf courses, sports venues, recreational areas, schools, hospitals, churches, and airports there is a PRT station in its parking lot or right across the street. Most residential areas, excluding large estates and farmlands, are served by PRT stations within walking distance (1/3 mile).
Also, it is important that guideways within residential areas be placed on large streets with good visibility so that parents will allow their children to ride the PRT to school. The PRT vehicles themselves should have large windows with good visibility from inside and outside the vehicle. Children should not ride large distances alone, but young women should not be concerned for their safety when riding the PRT in Cape May.
Interchanges are placed optimally to minimize the total length of guideway and total detouring distances.
Public Transportation

Currently, public transportation in Cape May County is inefficient and scarcely used.

  • Cape May Seashore Lines

A railroad runs in the summer season, but serves only a small portion of Cape May County. It travels a 22-mile round trip between Cape May Court House, Cold Spring Village and Cape May City on the former Reading Company’s steel speedway to the shore.

Right now, the railroad runs between the rail and bus terminal in Cape May and the Cape May County 4-H Fairgrounds, which is adjacent to the County Park & Zoo (in the town of Cape May Court House).

  • NJ Transit Bus

Buses from New York, Philadelphia, and other cities/counties in New Jersey, including Atlantic, Newark, and Jersey City.

  1. #313, 315

Local Service, Philadelphia (Greyhound Bus Terminal), Camden, Vineland (313), Millville (313), South State/Bayside Correctional Facility (313), Woodbine (313), Sea Isle City (315), Avalon (315), Stone Harbor (315), Cape May Court House, North Wildwood, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest

  1. #552

Cape May, North Cape May Villas, Rio Grande, North Wildwood, Cape May Court House, Burdette-Tomlin Hospital, Ocean View (Park & Ride), Casino Employee Park/Ride Lot, Atlantic City

  1. #329

Wildwood, Ocean City, Atlantic City, Toms River, Newark, Jersey City, New York

  1. #552

Philadelphia (Greyhound Bus Terminal), Camden, Sicklerville, Avandale Park/Ride, Atlantic City, Somers Point, Ocean City, Marmora

Fare-Free Transportation is a client service oriented organization dedicated to providing safe, efficient, and effective accessible transportation to the residents of Cape May County.
     As a community transit system, Fare-Free Transportation provides demand response, subscription, and modified fixed-route bus transportation service to senior citizens, persons with disabilities, veterans, persons of low-income, and general public on a "seat-available" basis.  Eligibility requirements are defined by the requirements of the various funding sources utilized to provide this service free of charge.
Modified fixed-route bus service is provided to the 16 municipalities in the county at least two times per week to a local shopping area.  Appointments are not necessary for this service, you need only be on the corner anywhere along the route.  If anyone is unable to access the route due to a disability, arrangements can be made for pickup closer to individual's location  by calling our reservation number.
     Door-to-door and curb-to-curb (demand response) service is provided to all areas of Cape May County and selected areas of Atlantic County, Camden, Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Delaware.  It is necessary to make an appointment to use this service at least two working days in advance of the trip to guarantee the ride.

How to get to Cape May

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry runs year round to transport residents and tourists between Cape May and Lewes, Delaware. The large, car-carrying vessels offer food and entertainment during the 70-minute, 17-mile trip.

People can also travel by air to the numerous heliports and airports in the county.

By car, there are several highways that lead into Cape May County.

The proposed PRT system does have efficient paths of transportation to and from these places.
Points of Interest served by the Cape May County PRT

Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts

Southern Mansion

Chalfonte Hotel

Mainstay Inn

Congress Hall Hotel

Cape May County Park & Zoo

Cape May Lighthouse

Historic Cold Spring Village
Cars in Cape May

Currently, large parking lots exist by most supermarkets and shops. However, tourists who come by sea or by air will not have cars, and a primary objective of Cape May’s PRT system is to serve these tourists.

According to 2000 Census Data, 80% of people drove cars, trucks, or van alone.4% walked, 2% used public transportation, and 3% worked at home. 9% of people carpool in cars, trucks, or vans to work. The current trends in commuting are highly inefficient. The PRT system will serve these commuters.
The PRT vehicle will seat two adults sitting face-to-face with their knees at most two feet apart. The car will be about 3 feet wide and 5 feet long. The vehicle will be quite narrow so its railways will fit on existing roads. Passengers coming from the airport might need a separate car for luggage. Extra fare will be charged, and the luggage-carrying vehicle will travel in front of the vehicle carrying the people, who will be able to keep an eye on their luggage the entire time. Two viable alternatives exist to control the luggage-carrying vehicle. The first is to make the PRT vehicles completely automated after a destination input at the beginning of the trip. The other alternative is to provide a way to control the second vehicle from the first. Ideally, all the vehicles should be automated anyways, and passengers should only need to input their destination. The second alternative seems more costly and more complicated.
356 Interchanges

319 Stations

The county is suburban, so say an average of $2 million per mile of guideway.
Each station costs $1 million.
Combined track totals approximately 300 miles.
($1,000,000 * 319) + ($2,000,000 * 356) = $1.031 * 10^9
The Cape May PRT System should cost about $1.031 billion. This comes out to be about $3000 per person.
These costs are high, but maybe stations don’t need to be year-round. Also, businesses should partially pay for the cost of stations and maintenance, because they are benefiting from the PRT.
PRT Fares

A flat rate of $3 up to about 2 miles. One person who wants to be alone in his two-person car must pay $5. Each person should have to pay according to the number of interchanges they pass through (or stations they pass through). Anything more than that will be a fifty cents per interchange. By the nature of this pricing system, tourist areas in the southern tip of Cape May will be charged more, because the stations are closer together, and thus tourists must pass through more interchanges to travel a mile compared to residential areas. Of course, monthly passes will be made available to commuters and schoolchildren. For schoolchildren, we should not seek much profit, and only break even, because children shouldn’t be forced to walk too far. A monthly pass for schoolchildren should cost no more than $15. Commuters, however, should pay about $30 for a monthly pass, for distances less than 5 miles. For everything over 5 miles, they will be charged an additional $2 per month for each additional mile per trip. We always round miles up. A yearly pass can be purchased, at a 10% discount.

Fares should be collected on the way out of the stations. This is so that people who change their travel plans mid-route do not have to pay additional fares on the way out, in addition to the original fare on their way in. This method of payment also avoids disgruntled passengers who paid to travel 3 miles but realized, mid-route, that they only want to travel 1.5 miles. Also, tourists often have no idea where they want to go until they have already passed it.
There is a total number of 82350 non-home generated trip attractions per day in Cape May County. The minimum cost for each trip is $3. Therefore, the Cape May County PRT System should generate, at the very least, $247,050 per day. Not including maintenance fees, it should take Cape May County no more than 4200 days, or 11.5 years, to earn back its initial investment in the PRT System. 11.5 years is an extremely conservative estimate, because many trips cost more than $3 each and the 81950 trips per day estimate does not include commuters, schoolchildren, or shoppers returning home to residential areas.

Trip Generations estimates obtained from San Diego, 2003:

An optimistic estimate for the number of years it might take for Cape May County to earn back its initial investment is about 5 years, because at least 50% of trips consist of people returning home.

The intention, however, of this PRT system is not to make money for Cape May County or New Jersey, although it certainly will some years down the line. The intention is to provide an efficient means of transportation throughout Cape May County.

Cape May County Demographics

Square Miles


County Roads (Miles)




Toll Bridges




Labor Force


Available Land Acres




Local School Districts


Regional High School


Special Services District


Technical School District


Transportation to Work



Public Transportation



Car, Truck, Van or Motorcycle






Work at Home



Total Workers 16+ years



Total school enrollment 23,063

Average ~ 800 students per school
Trip Attractions:

Schools: Average 800 students per school. Average about 640 a day Monday through Friday.


Total Housing Units: 91,047

Renter Occupied Housing Units

Total Renter-Occupied Housing Units: 10,849

Average Number of Household Members: 2.17

Average Number of Rooms: 4.42

Average Number of Vehicles: 1.09
Ways Out of Airport

Rental Cars, Taxis, Yellow Van Shuttle, and Buses.

Total 2004 Winter Population: 105,675

Total 2004 Summer Population: 629,466

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