A people mover or automated people mover (APM) is a fully automated, grade-separated mass transit system. The term is generally used only to describe systems serving relatively small areas such as airports, downtown districts or theme parks, but is sometimes applied to considerably more complex automated systems.
The term was originally applied to two different systems, developed roughly at the same time. One was Skybus, an automated mass transit system prototyped by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation beginning in 1964. The other, called PeopleMover or Goodyear PeopleMover, was an attraction sponsored by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company which opened at Disneyland in 1967. Now, however, the term "people mover" is generic, and may use technologies such as monorail, duorail, automated guideway transit or maglev. Propulsion may involve conventional on-board electric motors, linear motors or cable traction.
Some complex APMs deploy fleets of small vehicles over a track network with off-line stations, and supply near non-stop service to passengers. These taxi-like systems are more usually referred to as personal rapid transit (PRT). Other complex APMs have similar characteristics to mass transit systems, and there is no clear cut distinction between a complex APM of this type and an automated mass transit system.
Four years of engineering design, development, and testing, led to a joint patent being issued for three types of people movers which had been named Speedwalk, Speedramp, and Carveyor. Goodyear would sell the concept and Stephens-Adamson would manufacture and install the components.
A speedwalk consisted of a flat conveyor belt riding on a series of rollers, or a flat slippery surface, moving at . (approximately half the speed of walking) the passengers would walk onto the belt and could stand or walk to the exit point. They were supported by a moving handrail.
A Speedramp was very similar to a Speedwalk but it was used to change elevations, up or down a floor level. This could have been accomplished by an escalator, but the Speedramp would allow wheeled luggage, small handcarts etc. to ride the belt at an operating cost predicted to be much lower than escalators or elevators.
The first successful installation of a Speedramp, spring of 1954, was in the Hudson and Manhattan RR Station in Jersey City to connect the Erie RR to the Hudson & Manhattan Tubes, This unit was long, rose up on a 15 degree grade and only cost $75,000.
A Carveyor consisted of many small cubicles or cars carrying ten people riding on a flat conveyor belt from Point A to Point B. The belt would be riding on a series of Motorized Rollers. The purpose of the motorized rollers was to facilitate the gradual acceleration and deceleration speeds on the conveyor belt and over come the tendency of all belts to stretch at start up and during shutdown. At point “A” passengers would enter a Speedwalk running parallel to the belts and cars of the Carveyor. The cars would be moving at the same speed as the Speedwalk; the passengers would enter the cars and be seated, while the motorized rollers would increase the speed of the cars up to the traveling speed (which would be preset depending on the distance to be covered).
At point B Passengers could disembark and by means of a series of flat slower belts (Speedwalks) go to other Carveyors to other destinations or out to the street. The cars at point B would continue on rollers around a semicircle and then reverse the process carrying passengers back to point A. The target installation was to be the 42nd street shuttle in NYC between Times Square and Grand Central Terminal station.
Colonel Sydney H. Bingham, Chairman of the New York City Board of Transportation had several meetings with a group of architects who were trying to revamp the whole NYC subway system in the heart of town to connect Penn. Station, Madison Square Garden, Times Square, Grand Central and several new office complexes together. Several of these architects were involved in other programs and in later years many variations of the Carveyor people movers developed.
In November 1954 the New York City Transit Authority issued an order to Goodyear and Stephens-Adamson to build a Complete Carveyor System between Times Square and Grand Central. A brief Summary and confirmation can be found in Time Magazine Monday November 15, 1954. under the heading “Subway of the Future”. The cost was to be under $4 million, but the order was never fulfilled due to political difficulties.
Chocolate World in Hershey Pa., Disneyland in California, and Disney World in Florida are among many other locations that have used variations of the Carveyor concept. If You Had Wings used the Omnimover
The term 'people mover' was used by Walt Disney, when he and his Imagineers were working on the new 1967 Tomorrowland at Disneyland. The name was used as a working title for a new attraction, the PeopleMover. According to Imagineer Bob Gurr, "the name got stuck," and it was no longer a working title.
The world's first airport people mover was installed in 1971 at Tampa International Airport in the United States. APMs have now become common at large airports and progressive hospitals in the United States.
Driverless metros have become common in Europe and parts of Asia. The economics of automated trains tend to reduce the scale so tied to "mass" transit, so that small-scale installations are feasible. Thus cities normally thought of as too small to build a metro (e.g. Rennes, Lausanne, Brescia, etc.) are now doing so.