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Pod Taxis Zoom Past Another Checkpoint, Speed Towards Delhi

A high-level panel has recommended inviting fresh bids for the project conforming to the strictest safety standards on the lines of those prescribed by an American body.

Rounak Kumar Gunjan | News18.com@Rounak_T

Updated:December 27, 2017, 10:09 AM IST
Pod Taxis Zoom Past Another Checkpoint, Speed Towards Delhi
Representative image

New Delhi: Imagine being air-dropped to a desired place without having to worry about traffic and pollution.

This will soon be a reality in Delhi-NCR with the much-awaited pod taxi project — India’s first — crossing another checkpoint.

A high-level panel has recommended inviting fresh bids for the project conforming to the strictest safety standards on the lines of those prescribed by an American body.

The pod taxi scheme, estimated to cost Rs 4,000, is a dream project of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, and the NHAI has been mandated to execute it on the Delhi-Gurgaon pilot corridor (12.30 km) from Delhi-Haryana border to Rajiv Chowk in Gurgaon on a PPP (public-private partnership) basis.

The ambitious project has been plagued by delays as government think-tank Niti Aayog raised some red flags, asking the highways ministry to direct initial bidders to prepare a 1-km pilot stretch as all the technologies were unproved.

Subsequent delays were caused due to formation of the high-powered committee to lay down safety and other specifications.

Pod taxi, also called Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), is an advanced public transport using automated electric pod cars to provide a taxi-like demand responsive feeder and shuttle services for small groups of travellers and is a green mode of uninterrupted journey.

The automated people mover (APM) standards in the US as recommended by the committee for the maiden PRT in India have been prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and these constitute the minimum requirements for an acceptable level of safety and performance for the PRT.

These include vehicle arrival audio and video visual warning system, platform sloping, surveillance/CCTV, audio communication, emergency call points and fire protection, among other advanced systems, it added.

The pilot project, to be taken up on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis is meant for a 12.3-km stretch from Delhi-Haryana border on NH-8 (near Ambience Mall) to Badshahpur via Rajiv Chowk, IFFCO and Sohna Road.

The model is in place in London's Heathrow airport, Morgantown and Masdar city.

Earlier, three global companies, including New Zealand's Metrino Personal Rapid Transit, which later called off its joint venture with Indian partner Gawar construction, were picked during initial bids for the project.

What are pod taxis?

Personal rapid transit (PRT), also known as pod cars or pod taxis, is a public transport system developed for travelling swiftly in congested areas. They operate much like the traditional rail and streetcar network and are built above busy roads and highways. They are automated driverless vehicles and can carry four to six people in at a time.

Pod taxis are futuristic transport concept which is environment-friendly and can be run on solar power and other renewal power, bringing down pollution in densely populated areas.

According to one estimate, a solar powered pod taxi could cost one-tenth of an ordinary running car.

The first pod taxis were run at West Virginia University (WVU) in the 1970s. The other cities where pod-taxis are currently operating are Masdar City, Abu Dhabi running on CyberCab system known as METRINO and London's Heathrow airport. It covers a distance of 3.8 km operational since 2011. The average speed of pods is 60 km per hour.

There are numerous PRT systems that were proposed, but they didn’t get implemented. In India, around six states are looking to add pod taxis in some big cities to decongest traffic.

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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