I said in a recent post that multi-island cities would be an effective way to bring development to regional Maldives, and that a proper transportation system would be necessary for multiple islands to function as a city. I decided to elaborate on this idea by designing such a system for Greater Kulhudhuffushi. This was partly just for fun, and partly because I don’t want to be one of those people who point out problems without suggesting a solution.

Intro to Metros

Metro is short for metropolitan railway. It is a type of rapid transit system that is used to quickly move people from one part of a city to another. Trains are segregated from pedestrians and traffic, and services are frequent. This is in contrast to a commuter rail system in which services are usually slower and cover a larger area. However, there are no strict definitions for the terms. Metro just sounds cooler and more modern. It is also probably closest to a standard term for any type of rail network.

Dubai Metro

Metro can also be used as a general term for any type of rapid transit system whether or not it involves trains. The most common one is bus rapid transit (BRT), which has the traffic segregation and frequent services of a normal metro, only with buses.

BRT in Guangzhou, China (note how buses are separated from cars)

Metros in Maldives?

Trains need tracks and buses need roads. You would need one of those two things to connect multiple islands to form a city. But we all know that the Maldivian government is not about to build bridges in Raajjethere of all places. As a result, metros in the Maldives will have to be water metros, or more specifically, ocean metros.

A water metro is basically a ferry network, except faster and not so lame-sounding. Lots of cities around the world have ferry networks, but the only city I know of that has a water metro Kochi in India, and even that is still in its developmental stages (incidentally, there is also a normal (train) metro system being built in Kochi).

Ferry in Brisbane, Australia

Greater Kulhudhuffushi Ocean Metro

The Network

This is probably the easiest part to work out. It is simply a matter of knowing who wants to go where, and what is the most efficient way of getting them there. Before showing you the route network, here is Greater Kulhudhuffushi with the estimated travel time between the islands:


Here is what the GKOM network could potentially look like:


There are four routes, all of the islands are connected to Kulhudhuffushi, and there is even one route connecting the airport to the northern islands.

Of course, this network is not perfect. But the beauty of an ocean metro is that if routes do not work, it is very easy to restructure them, whereas with a regular metro, you would have to spend a whole lot money building new tracks and everything.

Here is another (probably better) version of GKOM:


The routes are probably more efficient in this one.

The Rolling Stock

I guess it would technically be “floating stock”, because boats…

Anyway, it is not enough for the connections between these islands to simply exist. They must also be convenient and efficient. Any boat that is to be used would ideally meet all the following criteria:

  • Fast –  Otherwise the system will be no different to what already exists
  • Good capacity – They should be able to carry at least 25 people
  • Cheap – Otherwise the system is not feasible
  • Safe – Otherwise people will die
  • Energy efficient – Otherwise it is a waste of money and bad for the environment

Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. However, there are boats in the Maldives right now which meet the most important criteria – speed and capacity.

I’m thinking something like this:


Or this, but a bit bigger:


But not this:


Other Infrastructure

In order for the system to be fast, the boats cannot constantly be going in and out of harbours – especially when they are in awkward locations like with Kanditheemu and Goidhoo below.

Who decided to have the harbours facing away from each other?

To solve this issue, some kind of pier will have to be built on each of the islands to serve the same function as train station platforms. For Kanditheemu and Goidhoo, they might look like this:


These should not be hard to build at all. It’s not as though they are unheard of in the Maldives…


Just for reference, here is what the Kochi Water Metro platforms look like:


Besides these piers, the only other things that would need to be built are offices for customer service, and those would not necessarily have to be everywhere.

The Name

I know that only a few others would care about this, but I don’t want people butchering the Dhivehi language by calling this system ކުޅުދުއްފުށި އޯޝަން މެޓްރޯ. At least call it ކަނޑުމެޓްރޯ or something like that.

The Current System

This is what we currently have. The routes are similar to what I came up with, but the services are much slower and not as frequent. But that can easily be changed. All we need is the willpower to make that change.

I hope this has given you a better idea of how a multi island city can be connected. I might do the same thing with other islands some time in the future.