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Airport identifies bidders for PRT project

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Two international companies have been identified as those advancing in the bidding process to provide a personal rapid transit system at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.

The bidders were identified during a presentation by WK Dickson to the Airport Commission during its July meeting.

Modutram – based in Guadalajara, Mexico – and 2getthere – based in the Netherlands – were both presented to the board as meeting the initial specifications for the new personal rapid transit system.

2getthere has used this CyberCab for its Masdar City project in the United Arab Emirates. The company is one of two eyeing the potential of a personal rapid transit system at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. (Photo courtesy of PRT Consulting)Rosylin Westin, spokeswoman for the airport, said the next step in the project is to confer with the airport’s consultants, WK Dickson, to establish times to see demonstrations of what each company has done in terms of personal rapid transit.

“There are two and the plan now is to make a site visit to see both the bidders,” Westin said. “We want to touch and feel their product.”

In an earlier interview with GSA Business Report, Dave Edwards, president and CEO of the airport, said both initial bids were at or under the $20 million projected cost of the project. There was a third bidder in the process, but Edwards said they were eliminated because of the company’s cost estimate being higher than the proposed budget. That third company was identified as Taxi 2000 out of Minnesota. It is the same company that initially worked on a proposal to build a personal rapid transit system in Greenville. That proposal was shelved so city and county leaders could further develop a potential proposal.

2getthere, a company based in the Netherlands, completed a personal rapid transit system Masdar City near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. According to its website, the Masdar City project was first opened in 2010. The city is an effort of the Abu Dhabi government to create a “fully sustainable eco-city.” The personal rapid transit component runs 18 hours per day and had its 1 millionth passenger in 2014.

Edwards said both proposals include battery-operated vehicles that would move passengers from the main terminal to the economy parking lot on either elevated rails or on the ground. He said the initial bidding also included the construction of an on-site maintenance facility for the pod cars.

Mexico-based Modutram has a test track built at its headquarters in Guadalajara, Mexico. The company is one of two bidding on developing a personal rapid transit system at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. (Photo courtesy of PRT Consulting)“This gives us a way to evaluate the project and the vendors to see if they could work with a contractor to make this a reality,” Edwards said. “This is the second step in the process after the feasibility study. The third piece will be go to the street for hard construction bids.”

Westin echoed the next step in the process was to gather additional information requested by the Airport Commission and look to schedule site visits for WK Dickson to inspect both company’s products.

“I don’t think there is a hard deadline because this is an ongoing project,” Westin said. “We are moving forward with the two major things we need to get done which are getting the questions answered and setting up the site visits.”

Peter Mueller, president of Colorado-based PRT Consulting, said he believed both companies could provide the system that the airport is looking for, so it means a decision would be largely based on preference and price. Mueller and PRT Consulting are working with WK Dickson as a consulting team for the GSP project.

“These site visits will help narrow things down and we can see if either of these companies, or both, can be pre-qualified,” Mueller said. “The next phase would be to start working with these suppliers on the acquisition of a design-build team which would include the supplier or suppliers.”

He added that the important thing to bear in mind is that GSP would not be the first airport with such a system. London’s Heathrow Airport implemented a personal rapid transit program in 2011.

“Heathrow (airport) has shown that this kind of service works and customers like it,” Mueller said. “It is a very similar operation to what is being proposed in Greenville and it has gone off flawlessly since it was implemented in 2011.”

Commissioners also approved a hangar lease agreement with PSA Airlines – a subsidiary of American Airlines. The 45,000-square-foot hangar includes apron space and employee parking. According to the agreement, gross revenue to the airport would be $382,500, but taking out hangar improvement costs, the net revenue is more around $100,000 for the first year of the lease.

PSA Airlines requested the hangar to open a maintenance repair and overhaul operation at the airport. According to the airport, because PSA Airlines is increasing the number of airplanes in its fleet, it sought an additional airport to locate repair and overhaul operations.

Additionally, the airport reported a 5.6% increase in the number of passengers enplaning and deplaning during the month of May. On the average, the airport has increased passenger count by more than 8% in the first five months of the year.

Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United all reported increases in passengers for May. Only Southwest Airlines and US Airways had declines in the number of passengers coming into or going out of the airport.

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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