Tuesday, 20 December 2011

New Pod Car coming to Amritsar.

The Punjab Government has awarded a contract for the world’s first urban Passenger Rapid Transport (PRT) system in Amritsar to an engineering company called Ultra Fairwood. According to the contract, Ultra Fairwood will deploy driverless, electric-battery powered, computer driven and zero emission vehicles called “pods”, which:

1.> Can each carry 4-6 people in privacy and comfort
2.> Provide an on-demand, non-stop journey to anywhere on the system
3.> Use one third of the energy of a car, and are virtually silent with no emissions
4.> Travel on a segregated guideway that can run over/alongside roads, rail tracks and buildings
5.> Never get held up by congestion, so reduce travel time

At peak capacity the PRT system can carry up to 100,000 passengers a day on a 3.3km elevated guideway in over 200 specialist vehicles between seven stations. The project will be financed entirely by private funding on a build, own, operate transfer (BOOT) basis, and the passenger services are expected to go live in 2014.

Amritsar is home to the holiest shrine of Sikhs, the Golden Temple, and is rich in historical, religious and heritage sites. As such it witnesses a large turnout of visitors, especially during festivals and religious events, as pilgrims flock to the area. Upto 500,000 people visit the Golden Temple on important religious festival days. The company aims to use the PRT system to ease congestion and reduce the current long travel transit times.

The route that they have planned will focus on taking passengers from the railway and bus stations to the Golden Temple and will:

Take 35 percent of daily visitors to the Golden Temple
Save up to 30 minutes on the current journey times
Attract passengers from a wide geographic and demographic profile, from regular commuters to “one off day trip” users.
Run from 04.00 – 24.00 seven days a week
Charge fares competitive with alternative modes such as taxis and auto-rickshaws.

Here's a brief video by Ultra PRT on the Pod Car experience:

So, Delhi’s got its Metro and Amritsar is soon going to have its first alternative mode of transport than the current deployed ones. The Pod Car seems to be quite a brilliant idea, but will it be successful in a country like ours where public modes of transport are so heavily misused due to the almost exponential population explosion? Only time will tell.

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