#HerBus: “Fais-moi découvrir Beyrouth!”―Garine’s Story

Today’s #HerBus story is a special one! We first met Garine when she took part in our Bus Map Photo Action last summer and captured way more photos than our modest CFP required. We chatted and picked her brain about cities and culture and identity, and before we knew it, she left to pursue her graduate studies abroad, where she developed her “Al Bosta” design project — a branding concept that brings to life a vision that we at Bus Map Project have been calling ‘joud bel mawjoud’, or excel through what exists. We’ve enjoyed following Garine’s work over the past months, and are happy that she took the time to share her thoughts and reflections on this bus adventure.

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How to take the bus in Beirut? from Garine Gokceyan on Vimeo.


J’utilise souvent les transports publics, que ce soit les bus ou les services. Pourquoi je les utilise? Parce qu’ils t’emmènent partout où tu veux, tu n’as qu’à t’asseoir et profiter du moment. Ah oui, j’ai oublié! C’est aussi parce qu’ils sont presque gratuits!

I often use public transport, whether it’s buses or shared taxis. Why do I use them? Because they take you wherever you want; you just have to sit down and enjoy the moment. Oh yes, I forgot! It’s also because they cost almost nothing!


"The Bank" by Garine Gokceyan
“The Bank” by Garine Gokceyan


Souvent je prenais le bus pour aller d’un point A à un point B, mais pour les jours de Bus Map Photo Action, c’était comme si je disais au chauffeur “amène moi quelque part, n’importe où! Fais-moi découvrir Beyrouth!” — je n’avais pas de destination exacte.

I’ve often taken the bus to go from point A to point B, but during the Bus Map Photo Action, it was as if I were telling the driver “take me somewhere, anywhere! Let me discover Beirut!” — I did not have an exact destination.


"Optical Illusion" by Garine Gokceyan
“Optical Illusion” by Garine Gokceyan


D’ailleurs ce n’est pas une légende quand on dit que les libanais sont des gens chaleureux, curieux et qui adorent être pris en photo. C’était vraiment marrant comme expérience!

Moreover, it’s not a myth when we say that the Lebanese are warm and curious, and love to be photographed. It really was a funny experience!


"The Romantic" by Garine Gokceyan
“The Romantic” by Garine Gokceyan


À force de prendre plusieurs bus dans une même journée, j’avais remarqué que chaque conducteur avait son univers personnel. Chaque bus avait sa propre décoration, sa propre musique, son propre esprit, ses propres peluches… On sentait la touche originale de l’artiste-conducteur qui nous invitait à voir Beyrouth dans un cadre particulier.

En fait, tu rentres dans le bus et tu en sors avec pleins d’histoires à raconter!

Since I was taking several buses in one day, I noticed that each driver had his own personal universe. Each bus had its own decoration, its own music, its own spirit, its own stuffed animals… One could feel the original touch of the artist-driver who invited us to see Beirut in a particular setting.

In fact, when you get on the bus, you get out with plenty of stories to tell!


"Fetish" by Garine Gokceyan
“Fetish” by Garine Gokceyan


J’imagine ce jour où la circulation serait figée à Beyrouth, pleins de voitures dans les rues l’une derrière l’autre, toutes bloquées. Et le seul moyen qu’ils auront, pour enfin avancer, serait de faire bouger les voitures une par une depuis Saida.

I imagine the day when all circulation in Beirut is frozen, the streets full of cars, one after the other, everything blocked. And the only way that they can move forward, would be to budge the cars one by one from Saida.


"Al Bosta" designed by Garine Gokceyan

En quelques mots, je voudrais avoir le choix de mes transports à Beyrouth et non pas être imposé à choisir le transport en voiture.

In short, I would like the choice of how I get to Beirut, and not be forced to choose the car.

"Al Bosta" designed by Garine G.


J’espère que les gens verrons dans mon projet l’idée de l’initiative.
Une initiative individuelle pourrait peut-être inciter une collectivité à agir, à penser à améliorer leur condition de vie.

Ne pas attendre le gouvernement à se bouger, mais faire nous même bouger le système, bouger la circulation.

Et un jour, on pourrait même se dire: fini les “zammour”, fini l’embouteillage, fini la pollution… un jour.

I hope that people will see the idea of the initiative in my project. An individual initiative could perhaps encourage a collective to act, to think about improving their living conditions.

Do not wait for the government to move, but rather, let us move the system ourselves, making traffic move.

And one day, we could even say: no more “zammour” [car horn], no more traffic jams, no more pollution… one day.


"Red is ready" by Garine Gokceyan
“Red is ready” by Garine Gokceyan


Un bus est un grand véhicule de transport en commun, ce n’est ni un monstre vert qui dévore les gens, ni un bateau mystérieux qui passe par le Triangle des Bermudes. C’est vrai que parfois ça peut ressembler à une boîte à sardine et j’avoue ça peut être gênant mais dans tous les cas on a la possibilité de réagir et mettre fin à tout circonstances inconfortables en demandant à la prochaine de s’éloigner.

Pour résumer, Il faut arrêter de croire à ces histoires d’horreur qu’on nous raconte sur les bus et les van. Il faut juste essayer! C’est jamais trop tard de prendre un bus, il y en a un qui passe tout les 6 minutes.

A bus is a large vehicle for shared transport, it is neither a green monster that devours people, nor a mysterious boat that passes through the Bermuda Triangle. It’s true that sometimes it can look like a can of sardines, and I confess that this can be annoying, but in any case, one has the ability to respond and stop any uncomfortable situations by asking the person next to them to move.

In sum, we must stop believing in these horror stories that we are told about the buses and the van. You just have to try! It’s never too late to catch a bus, there’s one that runs every 6 minutes.


"Al Bosta" by Garine Gokceyan

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All photos and graphics by Garine Gokceyan. Text translated into English by BMP.

#HerBus: الفوضى والفلتان—Lynn’s Story

Today’s #HerBus story is troubling and bleak, and some of the conclusions it draws are controversial. While it is not a first-hand account, we thank Lynn for sharing her thoughts and reflections on the experiences of Lebanese women on public transport, because the fear of violence and exploitation that she expresses is real and pervasive. Scroll down to read our translation of Lynn’s story.

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لطالما كنّا ندرك سابقاً ان الامن اللبناني غائب عن الساحة المحليّة، وقد تسبب هذا الغياب بتفشّي ظاهرة خطف المواطنين من امام مسكنهم او حتى خطف القاصرات من خارج المدارس في بعض المناطق كما بات معلوماً في الآونة الاخيرة

هنا سأسرد واقعة حصلت مع رفيقتي حيث أخبرتني اذ انّها كانت في أحد الأيام بإنتظار باص ليقلّها من جسر الكولا الى جونية حيث اعترضها شابان وبدءا يتحرشا بها لفظيّاً ويٌسمعاها كلام بذيئاً. وعندما تحاول كل فتاة الوقوف بقرب رجل الأمن يلحق بها من كان يضايقها غيرآبهين لوجوده. ويصل الباص وهنا الخطورة الكبيرة حيث تكون هذه الشابة الانثى الوحيدة في خضمّ مجموعة ذكور ينهالون عليها بالنظرات وكأنها حوريّة في بحرالعسل فتعيش الشابة حينئذٍ ليس فقط خوف داخلي انّما رعب شديد من هؤلاء. وما تلبث رحلة الوصول الى المنزل بالانقضاء يحاصرالفتاة رجلين او ثلاث ويحاولون الاعتداء عليها لفظيّاً علماً ان السائق لا يفتح فاهه لربما اعتاد على هذا النمط من الالتماس او انّه يفضّل تجنّب التورّط معهم

يتحوّل الباص من الساعة الواحدة ظهراً حتّى التاسعة مساءً الى شريعة غاب تسود قوّة الرجال داخل حافلات النقل العام وما من رقيب ولاحسيب. تعيش الفتاة اللبنانية اثناء تنقّلها ذعراً لا مثيل له، مما ينعكس سلباً على حياتها النفسيّة اولاً وتفقد ثقتها وعزّة نفسها ثانيةً ومهما كانت هذه الفتاة جبّارة ستصل الى مرحلة تشعر فيها بالانحطاطٍ والتعاسة، علماً ان بعض الشابات اليافعات تقعن ضحيّة هذا التحرّش ليؤدّي بعدها في بعض الحالات الى استغلال جسدي وجنسي ولا ندري اين يودي بها لأمر معها في النهاية الى حالات إكتئآب، امراض نفسيّة او حتّى الإنتحار في بعض الحالات

وهنا، لا يسعنا سوى ان ندق ناقوس الخطر في هذا المجال لجهّة ما يتسببه هذا الفلتان الامني واللا اخلاقي في وسائل النقل العامّة بحيث اصبحنا نرى انّ المواطن اللبناني يشكّل ما نسبته 15% من مستخدمي قطاع النقل هذا امام 85 % من الاجانب. فالانسان الطائش العديم مسؤليّة يرتكب الفوضى فتقع الشابات اليافعات ضحيّة الاستغلال. كثرت في السنوات الاخيرة قوانين لحماية المرأة من كافّة العنف الّا ان هذه القوانين ليست سوى حبر على ورق، ويجدر الذكر ان الذين يسيؤون للمرأة ويتعدون عليها لفظياً يحسبون انّ القوانين لا تطالهم ولا علاقة لهم بالقوانين المطروحة

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We have long known that security is missing from the scene in Lebanon, a situation which has led to a string of kidnappings, with citizens and even young girls taken from in front of their homes and schools in some areas of Lebanon, as we have heard stories about recently.

I will relay a story that happened to my friend, who told me how she had once been waiting for a bus from under Cola Bridge in the direction of Jounieh. While waiting for the bus, two young men began to verbally harass her, and say rude and inappropriate things to her. And when the young woman tried to stand closer to a police officer, her harassers continued to bother her, as though the officer was not there. When the bus arrives, the real danger begins, as this young lady is the only woman in a crowd of men, assailing her with their eyes, as though she is a mermaid [or angelic being, hooriya] in a “sea of honey”; this makes her very afraid, on a very deep level, as she begins to feel terror among these men. And as her journey home was coming to an end, two or three men began to assault her verbally, while the bus driver did not open his mouth, perhaps because he was used to this kind of behavior, or because he preferred to avoid getting into trouble with them.

From 1 to 9 pm, the bus is ruled by the law of the jungle, where the power of men prevails inside public transport vehicles with neither censure nor accountability. The young, Lebanese woman experiences a kind of fear without parallel as she commutes; this, firstly impacts her mental health negatively, and, secondly, leads her to lose her confidence and sense of self-dignity. No matter how resilient she is, there will come a time when she feels miserable and depressed. In some cases, some young girls fall victims of the kind of harassment that leads to physical and sexual assault, which could lead to serious emotional and psychological problems, and maybe even suicide in some cases.

We have to sound the alarm on this lack of security and morals on public transport, a situation that has led the Lebanese citizen to make up only 15% of the riding public, while the other 85% is made up of foreigners. Irresponsible people create chaos, which pushes young girls and women to fall into exploitation. Laws protecting women from all forms of violence have increased in recent years, except that these laws are nothing but ink on paper, and it is important to note that those who mistreat and verbally harass women believe that they are above the law.

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This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting the unique and complex experiences of women who use public transport in Lebanon. Photo by Rachel Burnham, taken as part of last summer’s Bus Map Photo Action. Rachel writes: “What endears me to riding the bus as a timid foreigner was the way that I was always graciously offered a seat, no matter how busy the bus or van.”

#HerBus: ‘Who is Who on the Bus?’—Lucia’s Story

Today’s #HerBus post is a photo-essay by Lucia Czernin, a writer and photographer who took part in our Bus Map Photo Action last summer. We are very happy to publish this beautiful account of her thoughts and experiences exploring our first edition bus map and getting to know some of the stories — just 14 glimpses — behind that intricate human tapestry that is the riding public.

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‘Who is Who on the Bus?’

by Lucia Czernin

Who are the people in the anonymous crowd of commuters? What are the stories behind them? I sometimes wonder why we are not constantly amazed to see new faces, given the fact that every face is unique in its way and represents a unique person and story. It might be a natural mechanism in order to protect us from the exhausting idea of endless new information. I guess humans need this security: familiarities, being surrounded by things and people they know, at least from time to time. In order to not lose control, we tend to divide the world into two broad categories: people we know and people we don’t know. But then, the process of a stranger changing categories, turning into someone we know, can consist of only a look, a smile, an insult or a simple gesture. This happens by chance or it can be deliberately provoked. But the idea of taking the initiative might frighten most of us, and I know it totally went against my own inclinations. And yet, as they say, “who dares, wins”.

Once on board, wavering down the “autostrade”, surrounded by honking, shouting and Arabic music, I thought I actually had a very important book to read and I might not really want to get to know these people. But then, I pulled myself together and dared to stumble over some awkward question in broken Arabic to the person in the seat in front of me. Suddenly, it seemed the music would stop, and people would interrupt their shouting and honking to fix their eyes on me, asking: “What is your problem?” Humans are an amusing species: on one hand we can only survive in community, while on the other hand, we love to lead a bubbled-up life. This tendency might be particularly strong in cities and is also referred to as “civil inattention”. Especially in cities that hold twice as many cars as persons, it seems that even on the bus, people like to pretend that they are on their own. Best strategy? Catch their attention.

Usually it is not very comfortable to look like a foreigner, but in these journeys that I documented, it helped to attract the curiosity of my fellow passengers. In some instances, I was lucky to meet new friends without having to take the first step, and could very naturally engage in conversation and photograph them. On two occasions I managed to bring an accomplice along, as my moral support; a partner in crime makes you feel bulletproof! So eventually I found myself bouncing across the bus talking to strangers. And every face I captured with my camera represents a precious add-on to my personal universe:


Lucia Czernin

Please say hello to Omar and Shanti. They have just gotten married, and they are perfectly happy using the bus on their honeymoon. You would think, they couldn’t be better off on a luxury cruise!


Lucia Czernin (Hamra)

As she enters the bus, the sweet elderly lady with the “Alice” band and the matching polka-dotted cotton dress radiates an air of confidence. She is one of those people that remind you of the caring granny from your childhood. As soon as she is seated, she produces her rosary booklet out of her handbag. Although she is fully focused on her pious activity, she doesn’t mind being interrupted. On the contrary! She is delighted to explain the different parts and prayers of the rosary, indicating pages and pictures. The rosary lady of Hamra seems to be in high spirits as she goes on to explain the Novena to Saint Rita (a nun from Italy of high popularity in Lebanon). She is about to offer me her dear devotional manuals, as if it were a precious gem. Her recommendations include novenas, a prayer repeated during nine days for a special intention. In her case, it is always about health issues: spiritual and physical ones – for family members and neighbours. The photo I take is the only thing that makes her uneasy. She feels embarrassed because she hasn’t arranged herself properly this morning. But then she takes a photo of me in return, as a souvenir. And I am assured that she would always send me a prayer whenever she finds me in her photo gallery, squeezed next to Saint Charbel and company.


Lucia Czernin (Hamra)

These two ladies have been following my conversation with the woman with the rosary, and have eagerly encouraged her to pose for my camera. Rima, the woman by the window, has been living in Lebanon for 31 years, getting married and raising her children here. We find her on her last day in Lebanon, however. Tomorrow, she will leave to her home country, Mauritius, for good. “I doubt very strongly that I will ever get the chance to come back,” she tells me. She seems to be serene about that. “What do I like about Lebanon? I love this country, especially the generosity of its people,” she says. The woman next to her, also from Mauritius, is a close friend who has been in the country for 25 years, and seems quite well established. What would be their message to the world, if they had the chance to be heard by everyone, standing on a balcony? Rima: “I will go home.”


Lucia Czernin (Hamra)

Ahmad could have done better if he had known about the photo session on the bus. But he bears it with dignity. He came to Lebanon from Raqqa, in Syria, two years ago. Back there, he owned a Falafel place. He stuck to his domain, and is now working at Abou André. Ahmad’s family members are all in Damascus. He goes there twice a year to support them. His message to the world: “that everyone may be alright, and all may be well.”


Lucia Czernin (Hamra)

This bright fella is on his way home from school. He lives in Basta and is in the 10th grade. School is alright, he tells me, and he particularly likes chemistry. Later he would like to become a nurse, because his cousin is a nurse and tells him that it’s a fine job. But he could also study to be a computer scientist. His message to the world: “World peace?”


Lucia Czernin (Hamra)

This is a father of four from Sudan. He works in Achrafieh and his family lives in Dora. His children are aged 5, 3, 2 and 1, and they all go to school in Achrafieh. His job is not what he had dreamed of, but at least he can work.


Lucia Czernin (Broumana)

Aida is going up to a village above Broumana, to her sister’s house, as she does every Sunday. Her sister needs this support since she would be lonely otherwise. Aida’s husband joins her, every time. He has been a sacristan in a church for 20 years. Aida works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry once sent her to South Africa, three years ago, on an accounting mission. She still remembers the many aunties in the kitchen there. She is 60 years old now, and doesn’t have any children. “I have cried a thousand tears because of that. But now I am old anyway,” she confides. Everything happens for a reason. Aida is the most confidant of all her work colleagues, and of her neighbours, and of her brothers and sisters, she tells me. She takes the bus every morning from Dora to Gemmayzeh. She even knows most of the other commuters who come from Tripoli, and worries about them when she doesn’t find some of them on the bus. They always greet each other. When asked about her message if she were standing on a balcony and had the chance to speak to the whole world, she first wants to know on which floor the balcony would be! “What would I say? Bonjour! Please come in!” She then adds that she would wish the world a blessed day, in case this was happening on a feast day. “Yesterday, for example, was the feast of Saint Thekla.”


Lucia Czernin (Faraya)

As I enter the bus in Dora, I seem to be crashing a private family scene. The driver is taking his wife and son out on a Sunday trip to Jbeil. All three of them are enjoying themselves, giggling and talking loudly. The driver’s son, Ryan, is proud to be helping out his father by collecting the transport fees from passengers, as they get off at their destinations. He turns out to be quite firm, to the extent that his father has to calm him down when two ladies get away with paying only 1000 LBP each, instead of the customary 1500 LBP. I am not surprised that Ryan wants to be a soldier when he grows up. He will definitely do his job dutifully.


Lucia Czernin (Jounieh)

“My name is Felicidad. Like in the Spanish Christmas song: Feliz navidad, feliz navidad…” she sings to me. Felicidad is married to a Lebanese man. Her husband is 92 years old, she herself 45. She has children and grand-children in the Philippines. She’s never met her grand-children. She used to work as a cosmetician, but now there is no time for that, since she is taking care of her husband. A good man, she tells me. She brought along her friend Mary, who has just arrived from the Philippines. Mary needs help getting around and building up her social network.


Lucia Czernin (Antelias)

Michelle feels great. She is on her way to work in Antelias. “If I was the owner of this bus, the first thing I would do is change the seats. And then I would remove the Smurf from the windscreen.” When asked about Lebanon, she assures that there are many positive sides to the place. To state just a few: its smallness – you will always find someone you know ore are related to. You will never be completely lost; the weather – so much sun and still you have four seasons!; the food… “Badkon chocolat?” is her message to the world.


Lucia Czernin (Jounieh)

Dunia is a refugee from Iraq. She came to Lebanon one month ago, together with her husband, her two children and her parents. She is now expecting her third baby. What she likes about Lebanon: they are safe here. They live in Jounieh and they haven’t made a lot of friends yet. There is hardly any interaction among neighbours here, she says. Her message to the world: “kounou bi aman w salam.”


Lucia Czernin (Safra)

Khaled is from Akkar. To him, Lebanon’s flora is a big plus, but his family always comes first. Khaled has always striven to work in the lighting sector. But after school, he started at Hawa Chicken and is now a security guard at the Canadian Embassy and at the German School in Jounieh. Through this job he has become a good observer, he tells me. But whenever he can, he gets away to Akkar. By bus, of course.


Lucia Czernin (Jbeil)

Let me introduce you to the “mas2oul” of the Crusader fortress in Byblos. This excellent man has been a loyal bus commuter from Jounieh to Byblos for 50 years. He always brings his lunch box in a small hand bag. He loves his job, since it allows him to meet people from all over the world, though he can hardly communicate with most of them, not being a fan of foreign languages. But he knows every historic detail relating to the fortress! Just ask.


Lucia Czernin (Antelias)

This is Ahlam on her way to Zalka. She works in a spa. Her favourite part of Lebanon is her family. The only thing she really can’t stand are the slow bus drivers. She tries to avoid them. Her phrase to the world: “respect one another.”

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Lucia’s story is part of an ongoing series highlighting the unique and complex experiences of women who use public transport in Lebanon. Do you have a story you want to share? We will post it with as much, or as little, editorial input as you request, to make sure that your voice is in the forefront. You can write in English, Arabic or French, and when appropriate, we will share a translation that sticks as closely as possible to the spirit of your story. Share an experience, keep it personal, make it academic, be creative — your city needs your voice!

#HerBus: ‘Van 4, from dawn to dusk’—Virginie’s Story


« As long as it is not clean, I will not get in this bus »
« You’re not afraid?! Why don’t you take a service instead? »
« The Number 4? I did not even know there was a bus that goes from Tayouneh to Hamra! »

Van 4 by Virginie Le Borgne

Yes, there is indeed a bus that links these two places. A bus, or rather a minibus, a sort of van, often a semblance of damaged car body, sometimes customized, which passes at top speed and then slams on the brakes to let two or three persons escape from it. More than one bus, there are even 300 of it that go through the town every day, ferrying passengers around from Dahieh to Hamra, from dawn to dusk, for 1000 LBP. I am sure you’ve already seen it—at least heard it…

——Its impatient drivers who insult the others around, hail the coffee seller to have their caffeine shot, reign over their own kingdom, and share easily their mood of the day with their neighbors in the cabin and sometimes even sing a song——

Van 4 Driver by Virginie Le Borgne

I get on the Number 4 almost every day. Because it is fast. Because it is cheap. Because its price is fixed so that you don’t have to renegotiate for ten minutes once arrived because there was a lot of traffic on the way. Because when I am in its den, I feel like I am an audience member of a movie in which the town passes before my eyes as well as my own life. Because it is still one of the best ways to have a good idea of the contradictions and evolutions of Beirut. Because it gives space to women, men, others. Because I could write about the multi-confessionalism that takes place in it, the gender mix and also the public transportation—the so-precious public transportation—that it symbolizes; but these words are now trite, having been used every time something is said about Beirut. So it would be better to let you form your own ideas . . .

Van 4 by Virginie Le Borgne

I’ve taken the Number 4 under the rain at 7 AM after a party, taking advantage of this bubble to complain to my friend about the complexity of human relationships. I’ve taken Van 4 at midnight, under a pale sky, leaving behind me on the sidewalk a man who did not dare kiss me. I’ve taken it in the summer, at 9 AM, praying that it would speed up so that I can be at my Arabic class on time.

Van 4 by Virginie Le Borgne

I’ve hated the “4” during the ten irregular minutes I had to wait for it at Tayouneh, while twenty services or so hurried to honk at me. I’ve loved the “4” all the time that remains.

I’ve hit my head a hundred times against its metallic roof while trying to extract myself from it once arrived. I’ve almost fallen while entering, when the impatient driver decided to start up again before reaching my seat. And I will carry on falling.

As long as Van 4 will run, I will get in it.

Van Number 4 by Virginie Le Borgne

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This #HerBus contribution was written and photographed by Virginie Le Borgne, a freelance journalist living in Beirut. You can follow her on Instagram.

Virginie’s story is part of an ongoing series highlighting the unique and complex experiences of women who use public transport in Lebanon. Do you have a story you want to share? We will post it with as much, or as little, editorial input as you request, to make sure that your voice is in the forefront. You can write in English, Arabic or French, and when appropriate, we will share a translation that sticks as closely as possible to the spirit of your story. Share an experience, keep it personal, make it academic, be creative — your city needs your voice!

#HerBus: ‘Sweat and Perfume’—Florence’s Story

The first time I was in Lebanon as an intern, I had very little money and therefore used buses to move around everyday. Which led a colleague of mine to make a “joke” I didn’t understand yet: “Only Syrians and French take the bus everyday. Because the Syrians are poor and the French are used to it.” And in fact, it’s true, French people are used to public transportation, especially if you live in a city, so I guess that was convenient for me and not weird at all. Plus, it’s insanely cheap compared to everything else in Lebanon. I realized only after everyone reacted like “Yiiiii? You take the bus everyday? You’re not scared?” that maybe it wasn’t customary here.

The hardest thing was actually for me to know which one to take, where to wait for it, and where it would go. I had plenty of adventures getting lost in unknown neighborhoods before I managed to have some indication on what to do. But the drivers, when it happened to me, were always very nice, getting someone to talk in English or French with me if they couldn’t, and helped me with a big smile, a cigarette and sometimes even candies. So no problem, except for being late to my destination.

Now, I can use taxis, uber and services, but I still take the bus when I want to go around in Lebanon, especially to the North, South and the Bekaa. These roads are faster if you take a crazy minivan, if you don’t fear for your life! I was involved in an accident once, but got only bruises and a big scare that didn’t prevent me from going in one the following week. Seriously, these guys can avoid the traffic like magic. I remember once, we were stuck in the traffic of Jounieh on a Saturday, and another van driver talked to ours, telling him to follow his way. Of course, it cut us a full hour of traffic, and our driver was so pleased, the two men kept singing each other love songs for the rest of the trip, it was hilarious and sweet at the same time.

As a woman alone, I actually feel safer sometimes on a bus than on a service, because you always get the best seat away from all the men. Everyone is always watching out for you, and no one will dare look at you in a weird way or say anything insulting. Actually, a man was following me once on a bus, trying to seat next to me, other men saw it happening and pushed him out at the next “stop”. So it’s always a good experience, if you can deal with the smells of sweat and perfume!

* * *

Photo by Idrissa Mboup, taken as part of our Bus Map Photo Action last summer.

* * *

This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting the unique and complex experiences of women who use public transport in Lebanon. Do you have a story you want to share? We will post it with as much, or as little, editorial input as you request, to make sure that your voice is in the forefront. You can write in English, Arabic or French, and when appropriate, we will share a translation that sticks as closely as possible to the spirit of your story. Share an experience, keep it personal, make it academic, be creative — your city needs your voice!

#HerBus: هناك ما هو منظم و رخيص—Farah’s Story

This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting the unique and complex experiences of women who use public transport in Lebanon. Do you have a story you want to share? We will post it with as much, or as little, editorial input as you request, to make sure that your voice is in the forefront. You can write in English, Arabic or French, and when appropriate, we will share a translation that sticks as closely as possible to the spirit of your story. Share an experience, keep it personal, make it academic, be creative — your city needs your voice! N.B. Scroll down for our translation of Farah’s story.

* * *

ان النقل العام في لبنان غير منظم بحيث لا يوجد محطات معينة لنقل الركاب ولا حتى الركاب على علم بمواعيد انطلاق الباصات

لكن لمن لا يملك خيار سوى النقل العام يخضع للأمر الواقع وهو عشوائية النقل. قد يكون هذا الخيار أسهل بالنسبة للرجال اما للنساء فالوضع يختلف قليلا بحيث نتجنب الوقوع في موقف محرج كالتحرش وما شابه
لذلك تتجه بعض النساء الى الباصات لأنها وسيلة أمنة وقد علمت هذا من تجربة شخصية

في احدى المرات كنت متوجهة الى الأشرفية، اخترت أن أصعد ب تاكسي لكن كان خياري خاطئ فقد كان سائق التاكسي ينظر بطريقة تثير القلق عندها قررت النزول متحجج بأني غيرت وجهة ذهابي طبعا بعد نزولي كنت أبحث عن سيارة أجرة جديدة وفي نفس الوقت كان باص رقم 2 يتوجه نحوي صعدت وكانت أول تجربة لي لم تكن سيئة بل على العكس فقد كنت أشعر براحة فالركوب بالباص يجنبنا ك فتيات مواقف
.محرجة كثيرة ومع الوقت أصبحت على علم بوجهة الباص تبعا للأرقام التي تحملها

.قد يكون النقل العام من ضحايا العشوائية لكن بالرغم من هذا هناك ما هو منظم و رخيص

* * *

“Public transport in Lebanon isn’t regulated; there are no designated stations where passengers can be picked up, nor are passengers informed about their schedules.

Those who have no choice but to use public transport are forced to accept the way things are — namely, transit’s informality. This may be an easy choice for men, but for women, the situation is a little different, as women tend to avoid falling into uncomfortable situations, such as being harassed, and the like; for this reason, some women prefer to use the bus, as it is a safer mode of transport, as I learned from personal experience:

Once, on my way to Ashrafieh, I decided to take a taxi, but this turned out to be a bad decision, as the driver began to look at me in a worrying manner. I decided to get out of the car, pretending that I was changing the direction of my journey. Naturally, when I got out, I began to look for another taxi; that’s when I saw a Number 2 bus heading in my direction, so I boarded it for the first time. It wasn’t a bad experience. On the contrary, I felt relaxed, since riding the bus helps us young women to avoid very uncomfortable situations. And with time, I began learning about different buses by their numbers.

Public transport may be a victim of informality, and yet, in spite of this, it offers cheap and organized options.

* * *

Photo by Megan Barlow, taken as part of last summer’s Bus Map Photo Action

BRT in Focus: The Unions’ Perspective

As we saw in a previous post on the BRT Environmental and Social Impact Assessment study that we’ve been covering extensively, a major factor influencing the receptivity of people to the project is “perception.” Generally speaking, having more facts about the project can help bring different perspectives together, but this does not mean that all views are easily reconcilable. Everyone has their own reasons for championing one view of the sector over another, and it is easy to get frustrated with “narrow interests.” But at the end of the day, individual or group bias is the natural starting point for any conversation. We all come to a topic “from” somewhere, and we all take part “because” of something. This is half the fun of democracy, but it is also half the burden.

The same is true for public transport in general. In our last post — part of the #HerBus series we’ve just launched — we see an example of a young woman who decided to try the bus as a means of re-inventing her identity and place in Lebanon, after some time abroad. In other words, many people’s motivations for championing public transport are not primarily economic or environmental; they want comfort, peace of mind, or prefer the bus because they can daydream while watching the city scroll past their window. The bus can make poet-philosophers out of all of us, and our right to public transport, in many ways, is at its core a right to switch off and experience the life of the mind, even if fleetingly, during our daily commute.

The challenge lies in making sure our perspective — our reason to care — does not crowd out the reasons, perspectives and “cares” of others, especially those for whom public transport is a fundamental part of survival. All people are created equal, but not all stakes in the sector are the same. This is why the point of view of transport worker syndicates is absolutely vital, even if it “inconveniences” the whole project.

Here’s the second challenge: Anyone seeking to include the voices of transport workers should be really committed to this goal, and not allow the way the system has been set up to become a game they play before moving on (“we called them and they didn’t send anyone,” etc). The need to deepen relations within the sector and beyond the formal representative mechanisms is not something that will be fulfilled during any particular consultation study, but it does require sustained effort and time from a network of advocates that build real and lasting relationships inside and outside of the syndicates, that, in turn, cumulatively get us to that more ideal culture of inclusiveness inshallah. We are happy to know that ELARD agrees.

* * *

Way back on the 7th of February, ELARD opened up their consultation process by holding the first focus group meeting with transit unions at their office in Zalka-Amaret Chalhoub, near City Mall. Several transport-related unions and syndicates were invited, though only two representatives attended (for reference, a full list of unions is included at the end of the post).

We always talk about the importance of including existing transport operators in any proposed reform of the sector, but taking part in this session reminded us that it is too easy to romanticize this process, as though complex negotiations involving multiple, and often times clashing interests, with little-to-no history of interaction and commonality, can come to a quick and tidy resolution over coffee and petit four.

And yet, even with just two unions represented, a lot of useful information was shared, and through a spontaneous interplay between concerns over design and worries over jobs, the gap that can be filled today by groups seeking to reconcile divergent views became a little clearer.

To help keep our focus on this gap, we will not detail everything that was discussed in this meeting. Rather, we will try to thematize the proceedings to highlight the areas where more attention and dialogue could help bring us closer to that more ideal system of participation that we all aspire to reach:

Points of Convergence:

The most common theme during the session was integration, though it was not necessarily expressed that way by all sides. Elias Abou Mrad of Train/Train was very concerned about making sure that each “island” (the areas in the highway where bus stations are built) is well connected to the other sides of the highway, in a way that takes into consideration the psychology of pedestrians. He believed that the success of the project lies in how integrated the transition from one side to the other feels for bus users, and recommended that the design of each island/bridge extends past the edges of the highway, so that open spaces are found on either side. This is important to avoid the feeling of crossing a barrier which inevitably comes from any major road slicing through an urban area.

Trying to imagine the implementation of this recommendation was eye-opening for us, as it was difficult to mentally picture where these open spaces could be found without going back out and exploring the whole highway on foot; the very fact that the meeting was being held in a part of Zalka that several at the meeting indicated they had not mentally imagined as part of Zalka proper further proved Elias’ point. And though it first seemed unrealistic to find open spaces at the entrance of every single pedestrian bridge given how randomly buildings have developed alongside the northern highway, the way that this suggestion forced us to re-imagine how the urban fabric can stitch itself back around the ‘gaping wound’ of the highway was very useful for us, as pedestrians who have learned to run across barriers and make due with the car-centric urban environment. “We have to set the policy in ideal terms,” Elias insisted, “and see how much we can reach that.”

From a different perspective, “General Federation” unionist Elie Aoun insisted that the project’s success lies in the socioeconomic integration of bus and van drivers who rely on the northern highway. He explained how leaving these workers as an afterthought will cause a big shock to the system, as their livelihoods are at stake, and insisted that alternatives or incentives must be found for these workers so that they see the BRT project as a positive development, and not an antagonistic intruder. “It’s a matter of image,” he explained, as much as it is a problem of competing interests.

The point of convergence between these two positions — the design problem of stitching together the urban fabric, and the sociopolitical problem of avoiding friction between two transport markets — is clear, but it is not necessarily obvious, as both sides focus more on their own primary concerns. Hence, it is absolutely imperative for the CDR to take the lead here by adopting a posture of reconciliation towards both sides, and doing the meticulous work of bridging the technical (with its focus on consumers) with the social (with its focus on service providers) in a solution that is mutually-honoring. In other words, for this project to succeed, the CDR must not act like one more lobby among others, but rather, to be the forum in which diverging views are heard, understood, and satisfied.

How can this be accomplished? We will not claim to be experts — especially when it comes to the granular level of every island and bridge — but, drawing on a comment that Elias Abou Mrad made, we can suggest the policy framework that ought to color every decision made in the design phase: at this stage, the average user imagined by the design cannot simply be the person who currently owns a car and is projected as likely to stop driving when the BRT system becomes successful. It cannot even be the existing bus user, who is expected to switch modes (while also being portrayed as another “problem” to solve, given their existing transit-riding habits and practices), from the informal to the formal system. Even the unions seem to agree that these transit users will make the switch, and hence, threaten the livelihoods of existing bus and van drivers. But having these two users in mind at this point skips over the fact that car drivers will only abandon the car when the BRT project is complete, and existing bus users will only make the switch when the routes they already rely on naturally and effortlessly fit into the new system. These two developments might happen rapidly, perhaps with the very first fleet to depart on day one of the BRT service; but we would like to suggest that this scenario is more likely to happen if the average user being imagined at this stage of the design phase is the existing transit operator: taxis, services, Uber, vans, buses, Bostas…

The issue of how feeder links will work cannot be an afterthought, and, indeed, this came up several times during focus group meetings with the general public over the next few weeks. It cannot be left as an emergent design shaped by market forces or other self-organizing dynamics, because there is no guarantee that these forces will go in the direction that support the BRT project (indeed, the issue of violent opposition to the project was brought up several times during the meeting). In our view, this is the most concrete bridge between Abou Mrad’s concerns about the urban tissue and Aoun’s worries over the socioeconomic fabric.

Points of Divergence:

This point of convergence, and potential site for cooperation, was undermined somewhat by subtle comments that were made that seemed to take us backwards by de-legitimizing public transport as it exists today. On the one hand, when a suggestion was made of directly compensating existing drivers who may lose business, the question was raised about “why the Lebanese people should pay for that,” as though the perfectly reasonable, free market mechanism of buy-out and buy-in was a burden too high to ask of the taxpayer. On the other hand, when the question of how passengers will deal with dedicated bus stops when they are so used to disembarking anywhere along the route, the blame was put on the transit user, as though the perfectly reasonable use of affordances provided by the system itself was a moral failing of individual riders. In both cases, the burden of change was discursively shifted in the wrong direction. When the state has been absent from a sector, it is not up to those who filled the void to somehow be less inconvenient to it when it decides to return. And when a system provides little to no structure for its users, it is not up to them on an individual basis to create that infrastructure through sheer willpower alone (though — irony of ironies — they often do).

Hence, for this process of bridging perspectives together to be truly effective, we need to once and for all exorcise that implicit but ever-present spirit of disgust that hangs over our discussions of existing public transport. We cannot reconcile differences while holding grudges. Let us, instead, accept where we are and excel within existing parameters — joud bel mawjoud.








List of Transport Syndicates invited to the Focus Group, in Arabic:

  • النقابة العامة لسائقي سيارات الاجرة اللبنانيين
  • اتحاد نقابات سائقي السيارات العمومية للنقل البري
  • الاتحاد العام لنقابات السائقين العموميين وعمال النقل في لبنان
  • الاتحاد اللبناني لنقابات سائقي السيارات العمومية ومصالح النقل في لبنان
  • اتحاد الولاء لنقابات النقل والموصلات في لبنان
  • نقابة اصحاب شركات ومؤسسات التاكسي في لبنان
  • نقابة اصحاب الاوتوبيس والسيارات العمومية ومكاتب النقل في الجمهورية اللبنانية

مشروع الباص السريع طبرجا-بيروت – الاجتماع الخامس في بلدية بيروت

 في 10-04-2017 تمت الجلسة التشاورية  الخامسة في مبنى بلدية بيروت الطابق الثاني بدعوة من شركة الارض للتنمية المتطورة للموارد ش .م.ل المسؤولة عن اجراء دارسة الاثر البيئي والاجتماعي لمشروع الباص السريع بين طبرجا و بيروت لصالح مجلس الانماء والاعمار

  وكان الحضور بين حوالي 10 اشخاص جميعا مع المنظمين الذين يشكلون حوالي 4 اشخاص قد جلسنا في على طاولة مستطيلة وقد جلس بالصدفة السيدات الى جهة والرجال في الجهة المقابلة

كما العادة بدأت هنادي المسؤولة عن الاجتماع بتعريف المشروع الباص السريع ومكوناته الاساسية. فتبدأ بالمقدمة عن استراتجية قطاع النقل في لبنان واين المشروع من هذه الاستراتجية. في المدى القريب والمتوسط سيكون هناك خطة نقل مرتكزة على الباصات اما على المدى المتوسط والبعيد سيكون هناك قطار وبعدها تبدأ بشرح عن المشروع بقصة نجاحه في بعض دول العالم كالمكسيك و ايران وتركيا وبعدها تصل الى وصفه بشكل عام

:بتألف من باص السريع من 3 خطوط

الخط الاول على بين طبرجا وشارل حلو بطول 28 كلم وسيكون في وسط اتوستراد جونيه

 الخط الخارجي لبيروت وسيكون حول بيروت الكبرى بطول 12 كلم والارجح سيكون مسارالباص على الخط اليمين من الطريق

الخط الداخلي سيكون على 16 كلم ولم تحسم اذ سيكون لديه خط خاص او لا والامر متروك للدراسات الفنية

 وكانت احدى اولى الاسئلة لبدء النقاش من قبل مديرة الحوار والسيدة امل التي تدير هذه الدراسة التقنية: “قديش رح يجذب هيدا المشروع ناس تستعملوا؟” … “كيف تجربتكم بالتنقل بلبنان واذا بتستعملوا الباصات”؟

 وهل هناك موقف لتصف سيارتها و (feeder buses) وتكلمت احدى الفتيات وبدأت بسؤال عن الباصات المساعدة

خصوصا ان 5 كلم المسافة من الموقف الى بيروت فالافضل ان اكمل بسيارتي – “ما بقى تحرز” استعمل الباص

  هنا تكلمت فتاة اخرى تقول انها تسكن في وطى المسيطبة وهي طالبة جامعية وهي تستقل الباص وفي نفس الوقت تمتلك سيارة ولكنها تستعمل الباص بسبب زحمة السير

وبعدها تناوبت على الكلام طالبة جامعية تتعلم في الجامعة اللبنانية في الفنار وهي تذهب الى الجامعة بالباص فتستعمل باص رقم 15 من الكولا الى الدورة ثم الباص من الدورة الى الفنار رقم 5 ولديها مشكلة مع الباصات الحالية “النطرة” التوقيت  دائما ما نصل متأخرينا “عطول بدنا ننطر كتير او منوصل مأخرين” وقد اعطت رأيها انه يمكن في بدأ الامر يكون رفض للمشروع ولكن مع الوقت الناس ستستعمله

 وقد عانت احدى اصدقائها بأحد الخطوط انها كانت تبكر في النزول لانتظار الباص قبل اكثر من ساعة لان لا جدول محدد وكانت مشكلتها في العودة الى البيت في الليل حيث انها لا تدري ان مر اخر باص او لا تحتار في الانتظار اكثر او ماذا تفعل وخصوصا ان كلفة النقل ستكون اعلى عليها وهي تريد ان توفر المصروف قدر المستطاع

هنا انتقل الحديث الى احد الشبان وقد عرف عن نفسه انه دكتور وكان يعيش خارج البلاد وانه يستعمل النقل المشترك كثيرا وخصوصا في اوروبا وانه لم ولن يستعمل غير سيارته في بيروت وذلك لسبب مهم في نظره وهي النظافة فهو طبيب ولديه عيادة على الكورنيش وكلما مر من جانب الفانات والباصات فتصل اليه الرائحة والدخان المبعث من الفانات والباصات

ويصف الباصات بالغير دقيقة المواعيد ويجب ان يكون لديها قدرة على استيعاب ساعات الذروة ويسأل كيف يمكننا اقناع اللبناني بأستعمال الباص وخصوصا ان اللبناني لديه الميل والطلب ان يصل بوسيلة النقل الى امام المنزل وهو يتذكر باصات الدولة في ال90 حيث كانت تسمى “جحش الدولة” والتي كانت تقفل الطريق بحجمها فطالب ان تتناسب الباصات بحجم الطرقات الصغيرة وخاصة في احياء بيروت

كما طالب بتعليق المعلومات باللغة العربية والقيام بحملات دعائية للباص واكد ان اللبناني يريد محافزات كبيرة ليترك السيارة وتفعيل قانون السير والاشارة والخطوط car pooling الخاصة واطلب بنشر فكرة الاستعمال المشترك للسيارات

وطالبت احدى الفتيات بالسلامة المرورية وخاصة للام التي تجر عربة الاطفال وتريد الصعود على الباص الان فيجب تحسين النبى التحتية الان

 وقالت انها ليس لديها اي خبرة في الباصات الا في باص بيروت صيدا landscape architect   استلمت الكلام

وذلك لانها تخاف السرعة وخاصة في الباصات والفانات الصغيرة حيث السائق يسوق بسرعة جنونية وان باص صيدا بيروت هو خط مقبول وله توقيت محدد وفعال وهو لشركة خاصة وان الدولة عملت على الخطوط نقل الباصات وقد فشلت وان من اسباب ذلك اسباب سياسية وخاصة ان هناك بعض الخطوط وقد اخبرتنا انها تخاف الصعود ببعض الباصات خاصة انها قد يأتي احد ويقطع الباص خط الباص الذي تركبه وذلك لسيطرة بعض الاحزاب السياسية عليه وقد نصحة انه اذ لم يكن من استراتجية لادخال المستفدين من القطاع الان ذلك سيشكل سبب في فشل هذا المشروع وتسألت كيف يكمن ان يتكامل هذا المشروع مع السرفيس هل هناك مواقف للسرفيس بجانب خطوط الباصات

وبدأ بتحليل المعوقات لتطوير العمل في المشروع فقال يجب معرفة اللاعبين الاساسيين architectبعدها اخذ الكلام

اولا السياسيين والسياسة ثانيا البلديات وثالثاً اصحاب الخطوط وهم المتضررين الاساسيين ويجب ايجاد طريقة لادخالهم في النظام الجديد وانه يستعمل الباص وخاصة فان رقم 4 وانه استعمله اليوم ولم يفكر بالتردد للحظة لانه لو اتى لم يكن سيعرف اذا هناك موقف للسيارة وكم ستكون التكلفة وخاصة ان تكلفة الفان 1000 ليرة لبنانية وقد تمشى قليل ووصل بكل سهولة الى  مكان الاجتماع دون ان يتأخربغض النظر عن حالة المقاعد في الفان او الرائحة والدخان وان  ليس من الغريب تحمل استخدام الباص بحالته الحالية فكلها مدة قليل للركوب والوصول الى المكان المقصود وبتكلفة زهيدة وسأل كيف نريد ان نحفز الناس ان تستخدم الباصات هل يجب زيادة كلفة المواقف هل يجب الغاء المواقف وقال الجيد انكم تستطيعون التحكم بالتوقيت   الباصات لانه المسار خاص والا فأن سرعة السيارة وحتى على الاتوستراد لا تتعد 10 -20 كلم بسبب كثرة السيارات وذلك كان قد طرح مشاكل في التوقيت للباص

بعدها قد تكلم احد الاشخاص الذي كان حاضرا وهو صديق وكان من الناشطين في احد مجموعات النقل المستدام وقد تكلم عن تجربته الشخصية فبدأ حديثه انه لطالما استعمل النقل المشترك منذ كان تلميذا فقد كان يأخد من برج البراجنة الباص رقم  12 ثم بعد ذلك يتسعمل السرفيس بسبب بطىئ الباص الذي قد يصله الى المدرسة

بعد ان توظف واصبح لديه قدرة مادية ما زال يستعمل فان رقم 4 وخط الفان الشويفات وبالنسبة له ان يستعمل النقل المشترك لانه مقتنع انه مفيد البيئة ولا يستعمل السيارة الخاصة الا عند الحاجة او ايام عطلة الاسبوع

والان اصبح عندي تحدي اذا انني قد اخطو  خطوة جديدة في حياة الشخصية واتجه نحو الارتباط فلا اعتقد انه ما زال بأمكاني استعمال الباص وخصوصا سيصبح لدي عائلة

لدي النصائح عند استعمال فان رقم 4 فبعد الساعة ال 9 لا استعمله بسبب سرعة السائقين وانا اريد ان احافظ على حياتي احب ان اقرأ في الباص وما يزعجني في الباص كثيرا هو بعض الموسيقى وخصوصا الدينية

  وقد طالب بوجود بعض القواعد لركوب الباص وخاصة في ما يتعلق بالحيوانات الاليفة فهو لا يحبذ وجود قطط في الباص ويرحب بوجود كلاب

وقد قال انه ليس لديه مشكلة في اعتماد نفس النظام في دبي بخصوص التمييز بين الخدمات الملكية والخدمات العادية وهي نوع من الحل للفصل بين طباقات المجتمع وطبعا ساد نوع من النقاش الحاد بيننا ولكن في الاخير لا نعلم ماذا يمكن ان يحدث وخصوصا ان التعرفة لم تحسم بعد وان كانت التعرفة ستدرس لتناسب كل مستويات المجتمع وسكانه

 وقد طالبت احدهن بتدريب السائقين على عملهم وكذلك ان يكون سائقات اناث للباص  السريع

وقد شاركتنا احدى الصبايا تجربتها عن باص 15 انه بطيئ كثيرا و خصوصا في الدكوانة ويأخذ الكثير من الوقت ويقف كثيراً وبعدها يصل الى عجقة السير فتكون النطرة نطرات والسائقين يتسلون كثيرا من الوقت على الهاتف وهذا خطير على سلامة الركاب فضلا انه في اغلب الاحيان يحدث نوع من السباق بين الباصات واحيانا مشاكل وهذا امر خطير جداً

وقد طرحت صبية مشكلة ستواجها وخصوصا ان الخط الباص السريع لن يصل الى طرابلس بل الى طبرجا فهي كطالبة تأخد اغراضها و تكون احيانا كثيرة وهي لن تقوم بأخد الباص اذا لم يكتمل الخط فأما سـتأخذ خط اخر متل الكونكس او سيارتها لان ذلك سيمنعها من التعب والبهدلة في حمل و نقل الاغراض

وهناك فتاة قالت انها تستعمل الدراجة الهوائية والسرفيسات وتذهب بالبسيكلات الى اكثر الاماكن وهي قد اعتادت الامر رغم بعض الخطورة وقد هنأئها الحضور على ذلك وقالت انها ستسعمل الباص اذا كان باص موجود وتترك الدراجة وطالبت اذا بأمكانها اخذ الدراجة في الباص حيث انها تكمل رحلتها بالدراجة بعد استخدام الباص

وطالبت بأنشاء مسار خاص للدراجات موازي لخط الباص وذلك بعد طرح الفكرة من اكثر من شخص وصفت نفسها انها شخص يمشي كثيرا وانها تحب المشي ولكن ليس هناك ارصفة وهناك الكثير من التعاديات على الارصفة

او تقسيم التسعيرة على pay as you go  وعندما بدأ الحديث عن السعر احدهم تحدث بشكل عام عن طريقة الدفع

تقسيم المناطق وان يكون هناك بطاقة ليوم كامل وان يكون هناك بطاقات خاصة لكبار السن والتلاميذ

وسأل احدهم هل هو نقل عام او مشترك لنفكر بالسعر وخاصة انه يدفع 1000 ليرة ولا يمانع اين يجلس المهم ان يصل      بالنسبة للخدماتinclusive فالسعر مرتبط بالخدمات وعن مدى ارتباط السعر بمن نريد ان يستعمل الباص فكم نريده ان

وقد اردف انه اذ فقط يجب ان نحسب الامور على مصاريف النقل يمكن ان يجد المواطن حلول كأستعمال السيارات الصغيرة التي قد تكون اوفر له من الباص

 وقد طرحت احدى الصبايا ان لا مشلكة لديها ان يكون الشوفير غير لبناني كذلك وانها لن تدفع اكثر مما هي تدفع الان للسرفيس 2000 ليرة فهي لن تدفع اكثر للباص

وان مصروف احد الصبايا 6000 ليرة يوميا بأستعمال الباص ذهابا و ايابا من قرنة شهوان الى انطلياس

وان كلفة باص صيدا 2500 ليرة وهو سريع و فعال ولديه خدمة جيدة وفي بيروت تستعمل السرفيس وهي قد تخلت عن استعمال الباص واصبحت تستعمل سياراتها بسبب الزحمة لمحاولة الوصول الى عملها على الترم

وقد اطلعنا احدهم على فكرة لم نسمع بها قبل ان هناك دراسة للنقل في اتحاد بلديات الضاحية الجنوبية قد تدمج رقم 4 في الخطة فلا بد من التحدث الى البلديات وان تكون جزء من هذا المشروع وسأل كم بلدية وافقت على هذا المشروع على طول الخط

رغم اننا لم يعطنا دور الا في النهاية لنقاش بناء على طلب مديرة الجلسة عدم المشاركة الا اننا كجمعيات وناشطين تكلمنا في اخر الجلسة واعطينا وجهة نظرنا عن المشروع بشكل عام واننا لا نريد ان نحمل المشروع كل مسؤولية وافكارنا ولكن لا بد من التفكير في هذا المشروع كجزء من التنقل في المدينة فيجب ربطه مع المساحات العامة والتخطيط المدني للمدينة والعمل مع جميع المساهمين في القطاع و محاولة اشراكهم بنظرة ايجابية عن المشروع ليكون هذا المشروع جزء من سياسة عامة واهمية تراتبية تنفيذ هذا المشروع فقد تكون نقطة كبيرة في فاشله اذ لم ندرس من اين نبدأ التنفيذ

ان الافكار التي تطرح في هذه الاجتماعات نرجو ان تلاقي اذان صاغية و خصوصا اننا نريد انجاح هذا المشروع ليكون الخطوة الاولى في اعادة سير قطاع النقل العام و المشترك في لبنان وخصوصا ان الكثير من هذه الاراء كنا قد طرحناها سابقاً ولان تطرح من عدة اشخاص ومستخدمي الباصات فلا بد من العمل على ادراجها في التخطيط لهذا مشروع لضمان نجاحه

BRT in Focus: The Riders’ Perspective (Keserouen)

On the 28th of March, ELARD hosted its second focus group for the general public, this time at Haret Sakher, at the Saydet Al Maounet Church. The majority of attendants were youth from a scouting group, with a few women also connected to the organization also in attendance. Overall, around 20 people took part in the discussion, which touched on several points already heard in previous gatherings, while bringing particular aspects into sharper focus.

The overall discussion took on a for/against vibe, as though the BRT project was being put up for a vote. This atmosphere was productive, however, as it sparked critical conversations that are important at this stage of the Impact Assessment. One middle-aged woman raised a very interesting point about the whole process. She wanted more details about the design (numbers of buses, etc.), and inquired about the follow-up process (like receiving the final report that ELARD is preparing), insisting on her right to information. The team assured her that she would be able to request a copy from the government, thanks to the recently ratified transparency law (“2anoon el-shafafiyeh”).

As in the previous focus group meeting in the Matn region, concerns were raised over the narrowing of the highway. One person worried about the project failing (due to lack of ridership) after the investment and road changes have already been made, leaving a “useless” lane in the middle of the highway.

Others raised more specific concerns about the project design. One young man wondered whether 28 stops would translate to 28 minutes of stopping time, which he thought would mean too slow a journey, which he would prefer to cover by car. It would be interesting to see whether his calculation is accurate, since the BRT system uses prepaid boarding precisely for this reason: to shave off seconds at every stop. But more broadly than this, it would seem that a major challenge for encouraging people to make the switch from car travel to public transport is to — somehow — convince more people that public transport produces more value than just time. Even if the bus takes 30 minutes longer than it “should,” in comparison to single-occupant travel (because it has to “stop for other people”), this journey time is socially valuable. To expect buses to compete with cars at the level of Point A to Point B convenience for the individual user — others be damned — is simply ideological. Public transport is social. It cannot be tailored to individual whim, alone.

Having said that, it is interesting to test out the assumed efficiency of car travel given the amount of traffic all modes have to face today. This week, one of our team members left Hamra at exactly 5 o’clock, in the direction of Fanar, for two consecutive days. On the first day, he took the Number 5/8, which was especially packed with passengers at that time. This route tends to be seen as circuitous, as the bus has to “stop for others” from Hamra, through Basta, Sassine, Bourj Hammoud, Jdeideh, etc., all the way to Ain Saadeh. Due to peak traffic, this trip took 2 hours. The next day, this exact same trip was done by car, taking a “more direct” route (Hamra, DT, Ashrafieh, Dekweneh, Fanar). Due to peak traffic, taking the car only saved 15 minutes. The point here is not that the bus will always match the car; it’s that traffic needs to be reduced before any mode can be called “efficient,” and the main cause of congestion is the personal car. Any comparison of journey time between the two modes must take this basic fact into account.

Another noteworthy theme in this focus group was the relatively high number of participants who wondered why the existing system isn’t improved. One young man asked why the state is investing in new routes if the work to better integrate existing routes isn’t already done: “If I have to buy three tickets, what will the overall cost be for me then? It might mean 8000LL each way overall, making it less affordable than paying to fill up my car.” He suggested that existing buses can also be upgraded and cleaned. Another young woman also worried about the total journey, since the BRT system only takes into consideration the coastal highway, though many people need a way to reach the highway from the surrounding hills (as we pointed out in the Matn discussion).

Another young man who rides buses also thought that improving the existing system was a good idea, but he suggested that no infrastructural upgrades would be enough, as the main reason that people don’t take the bus is psychosocial: “people don’t ride because they don’t want to be with certain people,” he said. The way he said this seemed to imply that he was referring to “newcomers” like Syrian refugees, but when he was pressed to reflect on why those people didn’t take the the bus before the Syrian crisis, the moderator steered the discussion elsewhere. We believe that opening up this thorny discussion is critical for project success, however: class disgust is an invisible barrier to increased ridership, and even if more mixing is achieved, there is no guarantee that social harmony will automatically emerge through propinquity.

This social, psychological and political dimension of public transport was flagged up more directly by one young woman who arrived late to the meeting. She didn’t care about buses because her parents don’t let her use them. “It doesn’t matter if they’re clean, because people on the bus are scary,” she said. She shared stories of harassment of friends, and said: “I wear short skirts and don’t want to be stared at.”

It’s issues like these that are often defined and pushed to one side as matters of “awareness,” as though technical solutions can really “fix” anything if the social conditions for their proper implementation are not addressed throughout the whole project design. For example, a solar-powered water pump will not be maintained by a village if people would rather hook up their televisions and computers to the grid, and keep sourcing water from their wells by hand, no matter how “efficient” the system is deemed by designers. In other words, things will only work as well as their users want them to, and designing for the wrong needs will only ensure project failure. We hope this assessment process can make this clear to the CDR, as we do not want to see this project fail.

Bus Rhythms & User Hacks

Beirut.com has published an interesting post from the perspective of a daily bus and service user. The site has posted articles about services and vans before, but what’s nice about this one is that it includes some practical tips for the would-be bus rider. This one’s quite useful:

“If you can get a fast bus for half the way, do it. For example, if you’re taking the Bikfaya bus from Dora, don’t. From Dora to Antelias it’ll take you around 30 mins as he’ll drive slowly, so jump on a Tripoli or Jbeil bus to Antelias and then board the Bikfaya bus. These routes are known to be really fast.”

What this tip underlines, for us, is how all systems have a learning curve.

First-time signups will stick to the basic functionalities, but pretty soon, the pro-user will figure out the hacks that work for her. It’s the same kind of learning that happens when you start driving around Beirut’s convoluted streets. Or, on a smaller scale, when you masterfully dodge pedestrians and parked cars on your way to your favorite pub on Saturday night: you’re syncing up your rhythms with flows and moorings of others, in a jaunty jingle-jangle, look-at-my-dab dance.

Bottom line? The city is a sprawling text that doesn’t immediately reveal its deeper meanings.


Feature photo by Garine Gokceyan, taken as part of the Bus Map Photo Action (July 2016)