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A Dynamic Solution: Bus Rapid Transit in Beirut


Khatib & Alami (K&A) is working on a 10- month feasibility study for the Council for Development and Reconstruction’s Greater Beirut Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

This ground breaking, high quality transport system will change the way people get around in Lebanon by attracting different commuters, including existing public transport users, car drivers and passengers. This project is a sustainable solution to Beirut’s pollution problem caused by the carbon emissions from households’ heavy car usage. Traffic is expected to lessen too. Having successfully submitted the inception report, we are currently engaged in extensive data collection of traffic counts and surveys.


A Real Problem

After the Civil War, Beirut rose from the debris via a massive reconstruction program, which involved road construction and rebuilding. Since then buses, vans, regular taxis and shared taxis (locally called “services”) have been mainly under the control of private operators with some public sector intervention.


The trains and trams of the pre-war era were never reinstated since the old tracks and routes can’t be used and because of the high costs. This is why today Beirut and Greater Beirut struggle with the massive number of private vehicles commuting through them each day, especially since people opt mainly for private vehicles because of the lack of proper public transport. There are about 300,000 vehicles entering Beirut from the north each day and travel times between Jounieh and Beirut can easily reach up to 90 mins for a mere 20 km distance. The glut of private cars also means there’s shortage of parking spaces.

The feasibility study will include data collection; demand forecasting; functional design, feasibility analysis; operators’ business model; and much more.



A Much Needed Solution

To deal with this pressing current situation, a full strategy must be implemented to pave the road to a more sustainable city. A reliable public transit system is a necessity as are supporting policies and demand management instruments. This must be coupled with organizing public space that gives priority to pedestrians and transit. Cars should also pay for using public space for parking in all most demanding areas. In addition to all this, the public transportation system needs to be set up to serve the central area while having priority on the road.




Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)


Focusing on the most congested route, we envisaged a BRT line that would begin in the Tabarja – Jounieh area (a major populated area and feeder for Beirut), go through the densely inhabited northern suburbs of Beirut and end in the Beirut Central District, where passengers can continue their journeys using buses with different routes within Beirut. A possible extension of the BRT system to Byblos will be investigated too. The Northern Highway can have BRT lanes on the middle of the road without causing issues with the mixed traffic.


This means the dedicated lane will have no intersections and hence can move faster, making the BRT an attractive option. The total length of the BRT line is 40km with 65 stations.