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Transit X seeks pod construction in Berlin

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
October 22, 2020
BERLIN- On Oct. 12, the Berlin City Council held a work session where a project brought forth by Transit X was discussed.

Of the company, Councilor Mark Eastman said, "In my opinion, it is a company that fits well into Berlin's long term goals."

Mike Davies, who represented Transit X relayed that he had a couple of projects to present to the Council. The first, is a pod system on top of Jericho Mountain. The second, would be a transport system that includes 90 pods, with 24 transport stops that would trek 7.2 miles across Berlin.

Davies said, "The Jericho Mountain pod system would attract tourists for views from the mountain and it would change the dynamics of vacation time. The City transport would feature low fares of .40 per mile."

He went on to explain, "Pods would be accessed by calling in from a cell phone or making the call from a kiosk for pickup and delivery. Pods can hold four people with the ability to expand. They system is ecologically friendly, carbon neutral and it will change transportation."

He relayed that the project would be privately funded and Berlin would receive 5 percent of the gross revenue.

Davies said, "There is no manufacturing location yet for the pole and beam system, the track, poles, and pod will also need to be assembled. 'Bogie' is the cart, and it is not subject to weather as long as there are not winds over 45 miles per hour."

He added that Transit X is not seeking any funding from the city, and stated that if the pod is a flop, they will remove it.

Wind turbine developer David Brooks told the Council that in 2015 he developed the turbines on Jericho Mountain and noted how welcoming Berlin was.

Brooks said, "Berlin has been the leader before and it could be home to an entire new industry. This will have more of an impact to the city than ATV'S and wind turbines."

The system was reported to be constructed at a cost of $7-$8 million per mile and is financeable.

Davies goal for the meeting was to secure a letter of intent for a right of way in the streets and approval of work at Jericho.

Mayor Paul Grenier, with some reservation, said, "I'm not prepared to use Route 16, and Route 110 for a project where there is no such operating system in the world."

Currently, there is approval for six miles in Northumberland where a permit was approved, and financing is in the works.

Grenier added, "The City cannot afford an expenditure to find out that it may not be financially feasible."

To that, Davies reassured that there would be no cost to the City for this work and said that a bond would be set up so that it could be removed and the land returned to the way it was prior.

Councilor Lucille Remillard said that she is intrigued by the concept and said it is a great gesture that it would begin in Berlin.

Councilor Peter Higbee noted that it was evident that the pod would not carry four people.

He said, "It is clearly a two seater. There is a notation that the expected revenue at conception would be $1.33 million; in the build out, it would be $1.25 million. Why would phase I offer more?"

Higbee further questioned 20,880 people per day for ridership adding that a study would be needed to know what is real.

A Google search of the company produced concerning news reports, which may or may not give the City Council pause.

The Council has not yet voted on the project.

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