There are high hopes in the future of Lebanese urban mobility! The country’s public transport infrastructure had been deteriorating for years due to lack of investments and funds. In March 2018, the World Bank approved a US$295 million package to improve the reliability and attractiveness of the public transportation service.
Despite the high population density (1,543 people per m2), Lebanon lacks any form of modern urban transportation system, which intensifies the level of congestion on the roads and heavily weighs down the country’s economy as well.
The Greater Beirut Public Transport Project (GBPTP) that aims at improving the Public Transport System has revealed an over-reliance on international funding, but still generates a lot of benefits. On March 15, 2018, The World Bank approved a public transportation reform loan (US $295 million package) and a grant of $69.8 million from the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF) to support the overhaul of Lebanon’s deteriorating transport sector and the implementation of the government’s investment plan.
This funding, to be repaid over a period of 31 years, offers an eight-year grace and will be used to help develop a sustainable public transport system.
Three key components to revive Lebanon’s public transport sector
The GBPTP is based on three key components:
- To enhance opportunities for local authorities in order to reduce the barriers that vulnerable groups (special needs persons, children, the elderly…) face in accessing convenient and affordable transportation and deliver an integrated public transport system based on local needs;
- To optimise transport infrastructures and improve transport’s accessibility to people of all social classes on the northern highway and within the outer ring road of the city of Beirut. “The project envisages the purchase of 120 buses to service 40 kilometres [25 miles] of dedicated Bus Rapid Transit lanes from northern districts to the heart of Beirut. Additionally, 250 feeder buses will operate between the main stations and the hinterland”, the World Bank said in a press release;
- To finance consulting services and set up a modern information and communication technology system to supervise the work of buses, reduce costs and provide the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) users with the optimum in terms of comfortable urban mobility.
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