How a 'Jetsons'-like system could help Tampa Bay's traffic woes

A company called BeachTran wants to create a system in Clearwater to quickly move people from the beach and back.
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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Remember the Jetsons' iconic flying car? If you watched the 1960s cartoon, you probably dreamt of riding around in the futuristic vehicle.

Well, you might get your chance thanks to a company out of Clearwater that is hoping to transform the way you see transportation.

“The Jetsons were 100 years into the future. Well, we’re only 50 years into the future, so we’re on schedule for what the Jetson’s forecasted,” said Tom Nocera, managing member of BeachTran Clearwater. 

Nocera’s company is poised to be the first owner and operator in the western hemisphere of a unique magnetically levitated transportation system. When you see the technology, you will think it is something out of a science fiction movie. skyTran, a NASA Space Act Company, first conceived it in 1990.

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The aerial private rapid transit system could be an answer to Tampa Bay’s traffic problem. 

"We think we can take one-third of the cars off the road to [Clearwater] Beach," Nocera said. "I think this is the technology that will solve Florida's transportation problems."

How does it work? The solar powered, magnetically levitated private vehicles glide along a monorail at 40-50 mph above traffic. You will drive or Uber to a terminal much like a train station, reserve a vehicle using an application on your phone, hop into a private vehicle and glide to the next station. Nocera plans to build the first BeachTran route between downtown Clearwater and Clearwater Beach by the end of 2018. Then, it will expand along Gulf to Bay Boulevard to Tampa International Airport.

"We want to be able to connect Raymond James Stadium to Clearwater Beach by the Super Bowl in February 2021," Nocera said. 

Nocera wants the system to go directly into the stadium and drop you off at your seat. If you are thinking this man has some out of this world ideas, you are correct.

"I had the opportunity to grow up when we were putting man on the moon. My dad was involved in that over at Kennedy Space Center,” Nocera said. “I landed a job over there the summer we landed men on the moon for the first time...I think I was meant to do this. My whole life guided me to this...to introduce a new form of transportation for my hometown."

Nocera was the youngest member of the launch crew for Apollo 11. He keeps a picture of himself with Buzz Aldrin in his office. It's quite fitting that right now skyTran is in negotiations with Kennedy Space Center to build the first test track of the technology by March 2018.

10News has been in contact with Kennedy Space Center to plan a visit once the track is built. 

"There's nothing that can stop this from happening. People are waiting for a solution to traffic. We can save lives, time, and money. How can it lose?" Nocera said.

The technology is privately funded, so no taxpayer money will be used. The BeachTran team has presented plans to Forward Pinellas and the Florida Department of Transportation.

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