The concept of the ride began life as a sketch drawn by Walt Disney in the 1960s. While planning EPCOT, he thought a system of small electric trains would give residents an efficient way to run errands or get to work. It would snake alongside, and sometimes circle over, convenience stores, offices and mass-transit stations without creating pollution or traffic problems.
Clean, efficient and easy to maintain, the power system has no moving parts except for its wheels. Every six feet or so a coil embedded in a shoebox-size rectangle in the track pulses with electricity in a carefully timed rhythm. The coil turns on to pull a car to it, then turns off to let the car roll over (each car has a steel plate in its floor). These bursts combine to move the trains in a near-silent glide of linear induction. Loading is fast, as each train slows but never stops. The idea won a design achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Disney Co. believed in the concept so much it formed a separate division, Community Transportation Services, to sell it to cities. Originally called the WEDway People Movers, this ride was the demonstrator.
But without Walt, the dream died. EPCOT the city was shelved, and CTS sold only one train - in 1981, to what is today known as the George Bush International Airport in Houston. That train is till running, under that airport's main terminal.
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