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Clean transport not an easy move

Moving residents around Masdar City without burning a drop of fossil fuel is no easy task.

Moving residents around Masdar City without burning a drop of fossil fuel is no easy task. As part of the larger review of the city's development strategy, Masdar executives have become increasingly doubtful that a fleet of futuristic electric "pod" cars would be able to serve the entire development on their own, said Alan Frost, the director of the city's property development unit. The city's planners are also working to adjust to anticipated delays in the emirate's larger public transport system, over which they have no control.

The image of the "personal rapid transit" (PRT) system of automated electric cars that whisk residents and freight around the city had become a notable feature of Masdar City since the proposed development was unveiled to the public in January last year. And although the pod cars are already running and will be in use when the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology opens in September, they may prove impractical for the larger city, Mr Frost said.

"If you say, 'Do I think the PRT works on a city-scale?' No, it doesn't." The cars were still being evaluated for wider city use, he added. The key issue was the pods' magnetic routes, which limited future transport options. The pods use exclusive tracks that mean other electric vehicles would be excluded from the city, Mr Frost said. For short trips of a few hundred metres, Mr Frost said walking would be the biggest competing technology to the pod.

Masdar was also adjusting its assumptions about larger public transport systems that would connect the city to the capital and other destinations, he said. The city will have stations for a light rail network, which was originally to be built by the end of 2012, along with one for the planned metro system. Officials at the Department of Transport said on Monday they were awaiting the results of a population growth study to decide on the schedule of all public transport projects.

@Email:cstanton@thenational.ae

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