The government has invited expression of interest (EoI) to execute India's maiden pod taxi project on Delhi-Gurgaon corridor, Parliament was informed today.
The development follows a high-level panel recommending inviting fresh bids for the project, also known as Personal Rapid Transport (PRT), conforming to the strictest safety standards on the lines of those prescribed by an American body.
"EoI has been invited for development of PRT Delhi-Gurgaon pilot project corridor (length 12.30 km) from km 24 at NH 8 (Delhi-Haryana border) - km 33.5 (Rajiv Chowk, Gurgaon) NH 248A Sohna Road on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Mansukh L Mandaviya told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
He said the EoI has been invited as per the recommendation of a high-level committee.
"The Committee has recommended following Automated People Movers (APM) standards prepared by American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) along with the general safety requirements, system safety principles, traffic control and protection etc," he said.
The proposed Rs 4,000-crore pod taxi scheme is a dream project of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.
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 unproven. Subsequent delays were caused due to the formation of the high-powered committee to lay down safety and other specifications.
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 committee in its report also recommended framing of a request for quotation (RFQ) based on discussions with interested players and stressed the need for evaluation, based on performance in the test sections.
The APM standards include minimum requirements for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the various sub-systems of an APM system and are in general relevant for a PRT.
The model is in place at London's Heathrow airport, Morgantown and Masdar city.
Earlier, three global companies, including New Zealand's Metrino Personal Rapid Transit, that later called off its joint venture with Indian partner Gawar Construction, were picked during initial bids for the project.
Metrino, along with PNC-SkyTran and Neel Metal Products Ltd had bid for the pod taxi project last year. The companies were to build a 1 km of pilot stretch to showcase their technology.
Three bidders had made a technical presentation to the government last year -- Neel Metals Product Ltd-Ultra Personal Rapid Transport (technology partner), Gawar Construction-MIPL, which later said that instead of Metrino, they are roping in LSD by MND Group, and PNC-SkyTran that provided details of specifications in the prototype being developed for commercial operation in Israel.
If all goes according to plan, the first phase will be linking the 70-km stretch from Dhaula Kuan in Delhi to Manesar in Haryana to decongest NCR, Gadkari had said.