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Manufacturing Minute: A Cheaper, Easier Mass Transit System

In this episode, taxis that float above urban traffic.

If a California company has its way, the days of hailing yellow cabs on street corners could be numbered. SkyTran this week plans to debut an elevated mass transit system propelled by magnets. Its "sky taxis" can move up to four passengers 20 to 30 feet above ground at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. SkyTran will begin operating over 900 feet on the Tel Aviv campus of Israel Aerospace Industries, which helped design the cars.

By 2018, however, the company hopes to expand to three other Israeli cities and to the U.S.; construction on a system in Baltimore could begin as soon as next year. While the system may conjure visions of Chicago's "L" or the monorail at Walt Disney World, SkyTran's design costs a fraction of conventional transit systems.The structure can be also be assembled in days rather than years, and it consumes far less energy than even hybrid cars.

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK?

In an era of tight municipal budgets and rising infrastructure costs, could SkyTran represent the future of public transportation?

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