According to BAA’s Commercial Press office, the pod system consists of 21 low energy, battery powered, driverless, zero emission vehicles capable of carrying four passengers and their luggage along a dedicated 3.8km guide way. The pods will carry 500,000 passengers each year, giving them a smooth and virtually silent five minute ride.
The journey is on demand and non-stop from start to destination at the touch of a computer screen, choosing between each of the various Heathrow stations at the selection of the passenger. Heathrow Airport has released some facts and figures on the projected benefits of the pods:
- The pods are expected to eliminate 50,000 bus journeys on the roads around Heathrow each year
- Journey time to and from the terminal is congestion free and around ten minutes less for the average passenger (compared to the original buses)
- 95% of passengers are served in less than 34 seconds, compared to 5-8 minutes by the previous bus system
- The pods can travel at up to 25 miles (40kph) per hour
- The pods use 70% less energy than it takes to power a car, and 50% less than a bus
- The service runs 22 hours on weekdays, 21 hours on Saturdays and 20 hours on Sundays
- More than 100,000 passengers have used the pods since the service started on 18 April
- The system has taken six years to develop at a cost of 30m
The benefits that the Heathrow pod offers are significant: predictable service, reduced waiting time and reduced journey times, as well as being an environmentally sustainable form of transport that ensures reduced emissions.