Personal Rapid Transit in Masdar City

Our tour of what will become Masdar City began today with a ride on the world’s first fully operational trackless “Personal Rapid Transit” system. Picture a driverless car that you summon with a button which then takes you to any destination you like within a city. That’s the idea behind this system of 4 passenger electric vehicles which glide around on magnetically guided routes beneath the fossil-fuel-free city in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Granted the system is a mere 800m long, and hilariously only connects two stations which are barely a 5 minute walk apart. But it’s the very start of phase one. Assuming the testing phase goes without kinks, the plans call for the PRT system to run beneath most of Masdar City, future population 50,000, plus commuters. However, current deliberation may scale it back. Either way, the system will be augmented by a handful of stops on the future Abu Dhabi metro with the combined convenience making the city almost totally car free.

Manufactured by the Dutch firm 2GetThere, each vehicle is independently powered by Lithium-Phosphate batteries and recharges each time it sits at a station. Whether or not this type of system becomes commonplace in 21st century development remains to be seen, but it was fun to ride.

(Music by Air)

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of and head distribution for 3BL Media. has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place. It was acquired in 2017 by 3BLMedia, the leading news distribution and content marketing company focused on niche topics including sustainability, health, energy, education, philanthropy, community and other social and environmental topics.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

7 responses

  1. Great report Nick. This region can use some sustainable reason for optimism.

    If ever there was an urban area anywhere on Earth that epitomized the excesses of the boom years between 2002 and 2007, it has to be Abu Dhabi’s neighbor Dubai. A sign that this large-scale land development extravaganza was veering to unsustainable excess should have been Dubai’s decision to erect a 200-story building that would make it the world’s tallest structure. Other telltale signs should have been Dubai’s determination to build the world’s largest man-made artificial islands as well as a major ski resort in the desert – all developed with dwindling oil reserves, and without a source of sustainable food, fresh water or energy production for its burgeoning class-based society.

    Dubai’s oil-rich banker brother, Abu Dhabi, is now in a position to require a price for restoring faith that is likely to be much more than just prudent borrowing and greater transparency. It is likely to be a demand for a restructuring at the top and a return to more sustainable principles.

    Less than 100 miles away from the broken dream of Dubai World, Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City is a new city based on a very different dream by being built from the ground up with sustainable living in mind. Masdar City “…will bring together the best-of-breed clean technologies: building-integrated solar photovoltaics and solar glass, solar hot water systems, smart grid technology, electric transportation, power storage, sustainable agriculture and vertical farming, water recycling and desalination, low-energy HVAC, green building materials, waste-to-energy systems… essentially everything but wind energy.”

    Hopefully, under Abu Dhabi’s new guiding influence, Dubai will adopt a more sustainable development model that pursues a better balanced, triple-bottom-line return for the long-term benefit of all stakeholders.

    Will Abu Dhabi Help Create a Sustainable Dubai?

  2. For those readers interested in reading more on Masdar City, the first zero carbon city, see:’s-first-zero-carbon-city/

    Oil nations are on track to become net importers of oil, as their reserves shrink, and their consumption increases. Masdar is an essential prototype of what they will need to function in the not too distant future.

    Their is plenty of irony that they are using western dollars to fund state of the art sustainable zero carbon developments like Masdar. While we in the west feed our addiction above all else.

    Jay Kimball
    8020 Vision

  3. It would have been nice to see photos of the PRTs in context, what their interiors look like, and what the stations look like. The stock photo from the manufacturer does little to convey how it feels to use one of these transporters.

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