Nabil Nakkash, transport systems engineer at TEAM International, recently posted two interesting articles concerning the possibility of public transportation in Greater Beirut.
The first was about a soviet study conducted in 1968 for the implementation of a metro network in Beirut. It was more a prefiguration of what an underground tranport system in Beirut could look like. Indeed, it did lack a number of scientific data and a strategy for implementation, but it has the merit of having raised very early on the idea of a Beirut Metro.
The second study Nabil Nabil Nakkash posted is the 1995 Greater Beirut Area Transporation Plan (GBATP). Much more serious than the soviet study of 1968, it studied the feasibility of a very complete plan for traffic management and for the implementation of a public transporation network. It proposed a diverse set of actions such as: completing and reorganizing the road network, creating underground metro lines, site-dedicated bus lines, relaunching a regional/suburban train line, organizing taxi/service networks, building public silo parkings, etc.
” Computer simulations demonstrate that, in the absence of a modern mass transit system, meeting future needs will remain an illusion.”
– Executive Summary of the GBATP
As said by Nabil Nakkash, “Unfortunately, we have reached a point where any future investment in road infrastructure will make little difference on the overall network. Without a paradigm shift in the way we view the issue of mobility in our city, no real improvement will be possible.”
The Municipality of Beirut and CDR have been warned for more than 20 years that not working on the implementation of a mass transit system will bring traffic in Beirut and its suburbs to a catastrophic deadlock. 20 years later, in the middle of that predictable deadlock, the Municipality wishes to invest around 100 million dollars into the Fouad Boutros highway, a short stretch of road planned more than 50 years ago. If the Municipality of Beirut is so keen to fish out some old projects from its drawers, it could at least have chosen the right ones.
Rather than spending them on a defunct highway doomed to fail, a 100 million dollars would be much better spent on this first implementation of the GBATP. Indeed, the GBATP estimates that 100 million dollars would be sufficient (inflation put aside) to buy 400 buses catering 80 million passengers per year…
Something the decision makers of the Municipality of Beirut and the CDR should ponder upon…