LEBANON, FAST BUS PROJECT BETWEEN BEIRUT AND TABARJA
A fast-track bus project (BRT – Bus Rapid Transit) between Beirut and Tabarja, financed by the World Bank, is slowly moving through Parliament. The implementation of a 24-mile long road linking Charles Helou station was approved on June 9 by the Parliamentary Committee on Public Works, Transport and Water, but implementation time may still be long. “The project must be approved by the Council of Ministers and then by Parliament in plenary session before being run by the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR), which will be responsible for managing the contract,” the chairman of the committee Parliamentarian, MP Mohamed Kabbani, explained. This project is in the drawer since 2015, when the World Bank began discussions with the Lebanese government on a loan worth a total of 250 million to develop public transport. This amount will allow to build a fast lane for buses in the middle of the Beirut – Tabarja highway, with stops and pedestrian bridges every kilometer to allow passengers to access buses and parking lots. Part of the sum, estimated to range between $ 65 and $ 70 million, is supposed to be devoted to the development of a Greater Beirut bus network, with the purchase of new vehicles and the construction of new bus stops.
This project should be examined separately in committee over the next few weeks. “The funding will be published by the World Bank after Parliament’s vote around January or February 2018”, according to transport specialist Ziad Nakat. But until then, the government must plan the future of the current transport system based on many private operators. “Obviously we have to take into account the reality of the current public transport system, but we must also think about the future and the need to provide quality service to citizens,” he concluded.