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High-tech podcars to take to Dubai streets in a few years

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Dubai: Dubai is set to have a new mode of public transport — high-tech podcars — in the next couple of years, a senior official announced at a conference on Monday.

The Zabeel area has been identified for the launch of the Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system, which is currently operational only at London’s Heathrow Airport and in West Virginia in the US. In 2011 a similar system was also piloted at Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.

PRT is a personalised guided, single-car transit system that carries small groups of people, connecting with other larger network of transport modes. The system allows non-stop, point-to-point travel that combines the comfort and privacy of a private car and the convenience of a rapid train.

“The RTA will be identifying different modes of transport that will be required to be launched before Expo 2020. We are working on plans to introduce a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system in the Zabeel area,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, during his keynote presentation at the Project Management Institute’s Global Congress in Dubai.

Al Tayer’s address highlighted the key projects the RTA is working on in the lead-up to Expo 2020.

“We are planning to launch an impressive range of road and transport projects that will enhance the growth and development of Dubai. We have projects in the pipeline that are critical to achieving the vision of our leaders,” he added.

He said Dubai will be serving 25 million visitors for the world’s largest business exhibition, with 150,000 people expected to visit the Expo site daily on weekdays and 300,000 per day during weekends.

“Several rail lines are under study for the future, and some are in various stages of planning and will be announced when the government allocates the budget,” he said, adding that Dubai will need different types of integrated public transport to carry such huge numbers of people.

“We are planning to expand the existing Metro lines and bus network apart from connecting with Etihad Rail and introducing new modes of transport such as Personal Rapid Transit,” added Al Tayer, without divulging any more details about PRT.

According to an RTA source, PRT is one of the high priority projects in the pipeline and the RTA is planning to initiate the project in the next couple of years.

Among the high priority projects for Dubai, said Al Tayer, is a ‘smart city’ that will see more than 1,000 smartphone applications being launched in the next couple of years.

“The RTA alone will launch more than 200 mobile applications by the end of 2015 that will delight people and make their living experience in Dubai more pleasant,” said Al Tayer.

He also said he is looking forward to the extension of the tram network, following the introduction of phase 1 in November this year.

Asides from transport projects the RTA is also working on projects such as Dubai Canal and Al Ittihad Bridge that will replace the floating bridge in the next couple of years.

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