Today’s First Meeting of the INDC Working Group that is following up on Lebanon’s COP21 climate action targets was very informative. It was good to hear updates from Dr Ziad Nakat on the World Bank-led Greater Beirut Urban Transport Project that we keep reading about in the news. From today’s presentation, the project seems to combine the MoPWT-DGLMT’s ‘Pilot Project’ for a comprehensive bus network in Beirut with three BRT ‘backbones’ on the northern, southern and eastern axes.
We would have liked to hear more about how this project will fit into the existing transit system. Indeed, there’s a lot left unsaid when the project is referred to as “the first public transport system in Lebanon” while also saying that there are “important challenges related primarily to arrangements with existing public transport operators.”
We appreciated learning about the EU-funded SISSAF Project, and their work with the MoPWT to develop a Land Transport Strategy. Again, it wasn’t clear how this fits into existing projects, including the GBUTP, but the comprehensiveness of the project was impressive.
It was interesting to learn from First Climate Consulting about plans to implement a car scrappage and replacement program next year, focusing on ‘red plate’ vehicles in the first phase. Hopefully, this project will also take into consideration why transit operators keep their vehicular maintenance costs down, and, indeed, why so many — especially retirement-age men — buy or rent red plates and start driving taxis in the first place.
Our favorite takeaway from the event? By a show of hands, it seemed that we were the only two attendees who took the bus to the conference. Climate action starts today, no?