Moving Mecca: The holy city will have three million residents and eight million pilgrims a year by 2030. When it comes to transit, a fleet of buses won’t cut it

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

A site regarded as one of the holiest on the planet is gearing up for a 21st-century transit makeover.

Mecca, birthplace of Mohammed, is aiming to create a massive, multimodal public transit network to accommodate the millions of Muslim pilgrims who flock there. And Canadian transportation engineers are among those helping them.

Mecca is no stranger to Olympic-sized crowds: For centuries, it’s been the home of the world’s largest pilgrimage – the hajj, which brings about 2.5 million people each year. That number is expected to grow to four million, even as the city itself doubles in size. A fleet of buses just doesn’t cut it any more.

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