“Capturing routes on a transport industry that doesn’t follow the same roads everyday or have a structured schedule is a challenge. But this is an even greater hurdle in a city where many are unaware of or refuse to acknowledge the informally-run industry’s place in the city’s public transport network.”
And so it finally happened, I found someone else who enjoys (and maybe needs) the bus system as a way of commuting (easily, calmly, punctually) throughout the city and further on. I was never keen on driving, I learned it late and never enjoyed it and had to stop it due to hearing issues (the problem with the hearing meant I could not anticipate what other drivers were going to do – my own driving even if not enjoyed was top notch). So what did I do? I went back to taking busses as I always have.
‘Le but c’est d’expérimenter, de pousser les photographes à s’intéresser à la question des bus tout en passant un bon moment .. Nous espérons vraiment que leurs remarques et observations sur les trajets, ce qu’ils auront remarqué en prenant le bus, nous aidera à développer notre cartographie et nos idées’.
“Au croisement Cola, le long de la corniche, à toute heure du jour et de la nuit, les bus à Beyrouth sont partout, charriant des effluves de goudron et de… jasmin le long de leurs routes aléatoires. Pourtant, une partie de la population semble fermer les yeux sur leur existence. Avec leurs plaques vermeilles pour la plupart fièrement illégales, leurs colliers de gardénias accrochés au rétroviseur, qui oscillent au gré des pirouettes des conducteurs, et leur application folklorique du code de la route. Au-delà du joyeux capharnaüm de leur organisation pour le moins pittoresque, des Beyrouthins ont décidé d’ouvrir les yeux sur la richesse cachée des transports publics de la ville : c’est la devise du collectif « Bus Map Project ».”
“Though it sounds trivial, one of the main reasons the middle-class has notoriously avoided using Lebanon’s bus system is simply a matter of labels and maps. Where does this one go? Where are the bus stops? [..] What’s admirable about Lebanon’s millennials is that they aren’t naive to expect too much from public bodies and tend to proactively find alternative solutions.”
It’s interesting to reflect on the pragmatism that motivates us at a time when there’s a real chance that the same can-do spirit might make public policy more welcoming of our generation. Our vote is with all of you hopeful people. Good luck to us all!
Our thanks to SOILS Permaculture Association Lebanon for featuring the project in their latest newsletter! Check out the full issue here:
And if you want to learn more about SOILS, why not make the leap and pay them a visit in Saidoun?
The ‘last mile logistics’ will be a little tricky, but you can get most of the way there from Beirut by bus. From Cola Intersection, take one of the many buses or vans that go to Nejmeh Square in Saida. We recommend the comfy LTC (‘Sawi Zantout’) express route. In Saida, take another LTC down to Jezzine. You’ll need to tell the bus driver that you’re getting off at “Homsiyeh,” after “Roum”. Saidoun is 15-20 minutes away by car, so you’ll need to hitchhike, or arrange for someone to pick you up.
It’s definitely a trek, but no one ever said that sustainable living would be boring ✌️ ?