Last year, the Regional Transportation Council launched a new policy called the Transportation Infrastructure Certification Program that encourages local governments to look into emerging technologies that might ease traffic congestion.
Now, through a program aimed at attracting innovative transportation technologies to the region, a company founded by former Google employees called Swyft Cities received RTC’s certification to build self-propelled gondolas.
Plano is the first city to apply for the implementation of Swyft Cities.
“It’s a great deal to get in on the front end of something that, if it does work out, could really help traffic in the city,” place 2 Councilman Anthony Ricciardelli said at a city council meeting (via WFAA.)
This is not the first time Plano eyed new technology to help with the city’s traffic.
As previously reported by Local Profile, in 2022, Caleb Thornhill, the city’s director of engineering introduced a similar project to the city council: JPods. Thornhill explained at the time that the aerial feature of this system would be an advantage, as it doesn’t take up street space or interfere with any roadways making it a safe way to travel through the city.
At the time, JPods hadn’t been tried in any city before, but Swyft Cities already built two gondolas systems.
“It’s something that they’ve already experienced and we’re not the first out of the chute,” said Place 3 City Councilmember Rick Grady. “I felt this looked like a very plausible solution.”
According to the company’s website, the company claims its infrastructure is low-cost and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. The gondolas are autonomous cabins that move through bus-stop-like stations taking passengers to their destination without extra stops.
Grady compared the system to driverless Uber vehicles, saying, “If you decide you want to be the only occupant in this, you’re the only occupant.”