Where’s the gadgetbahn? - 5
Leroy W. Demery, Jr.
Introduction
As asserted previously, I am a skeptic when it comes to the concept of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). I believe that, if there is a country where (PRT) "should" work and "should" already have been built, it's Japan. Furthermore, I have seen specific locations that, from the perspective of empirical observation of the built environment, appear "tailor-made" for PRT.
To reiterate: PRT cannot plausibly be "sold" as a "bundle" of concepts (technology, service and market), not subject to "disaggregation." Characteristics of service, market and technology must be considered separately. I assert that it is, therefore, perfectly reasonable to ask, with reference to these specific locations (or others elsewhere), "Where's the PRT?" The dialogue on this particular topic might prove very interesting.
(I have also stated previously that neither I nor my associate, Michael D. Setty, coined the word gadgetbahn. I shall consider myself free to use "that word" with impunity, with reference to PRT or other public transport technology or service, prospective or not, for as long as my name or that of Michael Setty is associated with its coining.)
This section continues the "short list" of examples away from Tōkyō, where characteristics of the built environment suggest that PRT "should" work and "should" already have been built, to underscore the principal point of this series. I selected the following group of six cities because all are planning "LRT," a term which in Japan refers to "modern tramway" (or "modern streetcar") systems, with low-floor cars to provide "barrier-free" access. At 2006, the The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) announced that new LRT systems would be built in 10 cities by the 2016 fiscal year. Some proposals encountered political resistance on grounds of cost and design issues (e.g. Sakai city, which adjoins Ōsaka to the south). Little has been announced by MLIT since 2006.
Hamamatsu: Where's the PRT? - 5.1
Hamamatsu city (浜松市) is an industrial center on the Pacific coast of Honshū. It is located about 210 km southwest of Tōkyō. (浜松市 is the official website in Japanese; Hamamatsu and 浜松市 are the English- and Japanese-language "Wikipedia" pages, respectively.) The estimated population, at September 1, 2010, was 807,828. The land area was 1,558.04 km2. (Photograph of the Hamamatsu business center, from a high-rise building.)
Again: crude population density statistics for Japanese cities are often highly misleading because municipal boundaries may include significant areas of agricultural or uninhabitable land. A significant share of  the land within the municipal boundary of Hamamatsu city is mountainous.
The JR-Central Tōkaidō Shinkansen and Tōkaidō Main Line extend east and west through the city center. One local railway extends northward, and a second extends east and west through the northern extremity of the built-up area. Private autos carry a large share of total passenger transport.
LRT proposals for Hamamatsu are being advanced by citizens' organizations. Outline plans describe a system of lines extending roughly 10 km from Hamamatsu station, with service to open in 2017.
Hamamatsu aerial image ("Google Maps;" scale 18.5 mm = 2 km, about 1:108,000; "Google Street View" images are available for Hamamatsu).
In common with other Japanese cities of similar size, the built environment of Hamamatsu includes significant residential and commercial development located well beyond walking distance from the nearest railway station.
Where, then, are the PRT systems?
Kanazawa: Where's the PRT? - 5.2
Kanazawa city (金沢市) is the largest city on the Sea of Japan coast of Honshū. It is located about 300 km northwest of Tōkyō. (金沢市 is the official website in Japanese; Kanazawa, Ishikawa and 金沢市 are the English- and Japanese-language "Wikipedia" pages, respectively.) The estimated population, at September 1, 2010, was 458,883. The land area was 467.77 km2. (Photograph of Kanazawa from Mt. Kigo-san.)
Kanazawa has two local railway lines. These are operated by the Hokuriku Railway Company, which once operated additional local railways and a town tramway (streetcar) system in Kanazawa.
AGT, LRT and guided bus lines are among the proposals for improved public transport in Kanazawa ("Google Maps;" scale 19 mm = 2 km, about 1:105,000; "Google Street View" images are available for Kanazawa). The planned opening of shinkansen service to Kanazawa, planned currently for spring 2015, has stimulated interest in improved public transport.
Where, then, are the PRT systems?
Kyōto: Where's the PRT? - 5.3
Kyōto city (京都市) was the Imperial capital of Japan from 794 A.D to 1867, and It is located about 365 km west of Tōkyō. (京都市 is the official website in Japanese; Kyoto and 京都市 are the English- and Japanese-language "Wikipedia" pages, respectively.) The estimated population, at September 1, 2010, was 1,463,444. The land area was 827.90 km2. (Photograph of the Sanjō-ōhashi bridge in central Kyōto.)
Kyōto opened Japan's first urban electric tramway in 1895. This grew eventually into one of the country's "big six" tramway systems, and was considered the most progressive in Japan. By the early 1960s, increasing road traffic congestion caused the once-profitable tramway system to experience operating losses. The municipal government announced a plan for a two-line, 36-km metro system in 1968. Although replacement of tramway services by bus stirred public controversy, this was carried out in stages during 1970-1978.
The first metro line opened in 1981. The most recent extension was completed early in 2008, bringing the system length to 31.3 km.
The " public transport" (bus and rail) modal share of passenger transport traffic in Kyōto ("Google Maps;" scale 19 mm = 1 km, about 1:53,000; "Google Street View" images are available for Kyōto) fell from 49 percent at 1980 to 40 percent at 2003. During the same interval, the private auto share increased from 38 percent to 53 percent.  
Kyōto is a major tourist destination. The number of annual visitors was stated at 47 million (2007), of which 6.7 million visited during the peak month (November). Transportation and traffic congestion are major problems related to tourism, and surveys have found that visitor's least favorable impressions of Kyōto are "streets" and "transportation."
Proposals for construction of a new street-based LRT system led eventually to publication of a report (in Japanese, pdf format, large file) in 2005. This outlined a prospective system of several lines. Then, on January 25, 2007, the city conducted a remarkable test of a novel concept: single-track LRT, with curbside double tracks at stops (Kyoto’s New Light Rail System…. Sort Of; see also TDM Policy of Kyoto City, pdf format). Studies continued thereafter, but LRT proposals became stalled by early 2010.
Where, then, are the PRT systems?
Matsue: Where's the PRT? - 5.4
Matsue city (松江市) is the capital of Shimane Prefecture and the largest city on the San-in coast of western Honshū. It is located about 600 km west of Tōkyō. (松江市 is the official website in Japanese; Matsue, Shimane and 松江市 are the English- and Japanese-language "Wikipedia" pages, respectively.) The estimated population, at November 1, 2010, was 194,051. The land area was 530.28 km2. (Photograph of the Matsue city from Matsue Castle.)
Again: crude population density statistics for Japanese cities are often highly misleading because municipal boundaries may include significant areas of agricultural or uninhabitable land. Matsue city ("Google Maps;" scale 19 mm = 2 km, about 1:105,000; "Google Street View" images are not available) has a significant amount of agricultural and mountainous land within the municipal boundary.
LRT has been proposed as a business-center circulator system. A report current at early 2010 stated that the city had decided to build the first stage, with opening planned during the 2012 fiscal year (i.e. by March 2013). That, I believe, was almost certainly in error; the municipal government is apparently seeking public comment. The project is not "stalled," but it is not moving very fast. Construction is not likely to begin for several years.
Where, then, are the PRT systems?
Utsunomiya: Where's the PRT? - 5.5
Utsunomiya city (宇都宮市), the capital of Tochigi Prefecture, is located about 100 km north of Tōkyō. (宇都宮市 is the official website in Japanese; Utsunomiya, Tochigi and 宇都宮市 are the English- and Japanese-language "Wikipedia" pages, respectively.) The estimated population, at November 1, 2010, was 510,699. The land area was 416.84 km2. (Photographs: Untsunomiya business center, near west entrance to East Japan Railway Utsunomiya station; Utsunomiya skyline.)
Utsunomiya ("Google Maps;" scale 19 mm = 1 km, about 1:53,000; "Google Street View" images are not available for Utsunomiya) has two separate railway terminals and various destinations located beyond walking distance of the stations. A LRT line, extending 15 km east and west from the city center, has been studied and debated for more than a decade. The municipal government promoted the project actively from 2005, then scaled back its efforts from 2009. The project has evidently been shelved.
Where, then, are the PRT systems?
Yokkaichi: Where's the PRT? - 5.6
Yokkaichi city (四日市市),  a manufacturing center, is located southwest of Nagoya and about 290 km west of Tōkyō. (四日市市 is the official website in Japanese; Yokkaichi, Mie and 四日市市 are the English- and Japanese-language "Wikipedia" pages, respectively.) The estimated population, at August 1, 2010, was 307,275. The land area was 202.53 km2. (Photomontage, views near Kinki Nippon Railway Yokkaichi station.)
A proposed short LRT line in Yokkaichi ("Google Maps;" scale 19 mm = 1 km, about 1:53,000; "Google Street View" images are not available for Yokkaichi) would connect the railway stations with the municipal hospital, 2.2 km. Use of battery-powered rolling stock has also been proposed. Little current information is available.
Where, then, are the PRT systems?