People Mover Dulles
Here's a new one for you: once-futuristic transportation system gives way to widespread dislike and repeated mishaps.
The mobile lounges (otherwise known as people movers) at Dulles International Airport have been involved in at least 16 accidents in the past decade, according to an investigation by NBC4.
Two occurred in the past six months, including one that sent two people to the hospital in October. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority also settled a lawsuit for $2 million after a baggage handler was killed in a 2012 collision with a people mover, according to NBC.
Many of the other accidents were minor, but they aren't helping the mobile lounges' reputation as one of the most hated aspects of the region's most hated airport.
This wasn't always the case. The dune buggy-like buses were originally considered an elegant, futuristic solution for all the walking necessitated by increasingly large airports. In a promo video from the 1950s, they were pitched as "a study of service and convenience for Washington International."
Untitled from CHRISTINA LAETZ on Vimeo.
The mobile lounges were envisioned as an extension of the airport itself rather than a sardine transportation can, and as such were once considerably more lounge-like. Guests could enjoy cocktails and music on their leisurely ride.
But as airports continued to grow, most ditched people movers in favor of trams. Dulles eventually caught up and replaced many of its mobile lounges with an AeroTrain in 2010. However, they are still used to transport people to Terminal D.
“I think the mobile lounges are unsafe. They’re antiquated, ” JC Dodson, the father of a baggage handler killed in a 2012 collision with a people mover, told NBC.
Officials made some changes, like requiring exterior lights, after the accident. But such incidents are rare, the airport's director told NBC, and the mobile lounges will remain in use for the "foreseeable future."