11.4.1.Targets for more sustainable commuting

  1. A traffic crisis in Lebanon: entrepreneurs rise to the challenge

Seasonal bottlenecks are common in the world. However, Lebanon suffers from a chronic traffic problem which dates to the end of the 15-year civil war, in the 1990s. In 1995, a transportation plan was envisaged for the greater Beirut area. If this plan had been implemented, the Beirut we know today would look very different. Instead, we just have ink on paper, unregulated public transport (bus lines and taxi service), no metro lines, and no rail service.

As a considerable number of Lebanese citizens commute to the capital on a daily basis, the Greater Beirut area witnesses a large congestion problem especially at its North, East and South entrances. These corridors experience average speeds as low as 10-30 km/h which in turn increase trip times by around 50-70 percent. This costs the Lebanese economy $2 Billion in losses on a yearly basis: 5 percent of the country’s GDP (The Daily Star, 2017).

Lebanon has failed at implementing a sustainable transport system for the country and for the capital, Beirut. It is ranked 124th in terms of quality of roads among 138 countries, according to the 2016-17 Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum. Building more roads, demolishing buildings to make space for more cars, and adding more parking spaces will only make the problem worse.

As a considerable number of Lebanese citizens commute to the capital on a daily basis, the Greater Beirut area witnesses a large congestion problem especially at its North, East and South entrances. These corridors experience average speeds as low as 10-30 km/h which in turn increase trip times by around 50-70 percent. This costs the Lebanese economy $2 Billion in losses on a yearly basis: 5 percent of the country’s GDP (The Daily Star, 2017).

Lebanon has failed at implementing a sustainable transport system for the country and for the capital, Beirut. It is ranked 124th in terms of quality of roads among 138 countries, according to the 2016-17 Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum. Building more roads, demolishing buildings to make space for more cars, and adding more parking spaces will only make the problem worse.

  • Carpolo

The Lebanese rely on private cars for their commute. However, the occupancy rate is a mere 1.2 people per vehicle. With an increasing number of cars on the road, the Lebanese spend more than 16 percent of their productive time commuting. The road network cannot accommodate a growing number of vehicles.

Carpolo offers carpooling as a solution. The platform acts as a search engine for unused car space. It motivates drivers to list their empty seats on the app: the platform operates around a gamified points reward system and offers user verification and real-time carpool tracking as well. A gamified points reward system is the essence of the platform. The ‘Don’t Drive’ campaign – in collaboration with telecom giant Touch – encourages passengers and drivers to collect points in exchange for Touch magic lines and recharge vouchers. The top 5 carpoolers (for a duration of 3 months) will win prizes as well. On the B2B side, Carpolo allows measuring the number of carpools completed by each employee with the top carpoolers being eventually rewarded. B2B solution reduces cost and dependencies of parking.

Carpolo turns out to be a win-win situation for commuters. A carpooling community is created and users are matched together depending on the destination – ie. the driver doesn’t have to go out of their way for pick-ups. For the passenger, carpooling using Carpolo is free. The number of cars on the road is decreased which allows the commuters to arrive on time.


  • Loop

Scooters and motorcycles are abundant in Lebanon, especially in the capital. They are easy to manoeuvre and can navigate through traffic. Loop took another look at these popular means of transportation and combined Telematics technology and fleet management to reduce traffic.

Loop scooter sharing is a service allowing people to move around in the city on electric scooters conducting short trips for several purposes. The main aim is to avoid congested traffic and reach the destination on time. The user signs up through Loop app, attends an orientation session, books the nearest scooter anytime just by logging in to the app and enters a 4-digit PIN to unlock the scooter.

As the average consumer looks for efficient and affordable solutions to move around, Loop stands out as an option, with their eco-friendly aspect as a plus.

  • YallaBus

The Lebanese fleet of licensed commercial passenger transport vehicles consists of 39,000 vehicles. The majority are taxi-service automobiles and less than 20 percent is divided between vans and buses – which cater to less than 1.7 percent of the undertaken daily trips.

YallaBus aims to encourage commuters to make use of the already available buses. The mobile application (currently in development) will allow the user to insert their location and indicate their destination and the desired arrival time. The app will then provide the user with the fastest route to take, the number of bus changes necessary (if any) in addition to when and where to wait for the next bus. Both the user and the driver will be able to keep track of each other.

With a considerable number of Lebanese disregarding buses as viable transportation methods due to their lack of cleanliness, among other reasons, YallaBus offers a rating system where the user can provide insight on their experience. This should be an incentive to maintain a minimum quality of the transportation experience as well as normalize riding buses.

  • Bike 4 All

Bike 4 All is a pilot program deployed by the Beirut by Bike team and the Beirut Municipality. It’s the first bike-sharing initiative in Lebanon. A prototype has been introduced in Downtown Beirut with five bikes. The final number of stations will be around 25 and they will mainly be targeting the universities of the capital, with a firm belief that students will be the first to adopt this eco-friendly and affordable alternative. April 2017 has witnessed the mise-en-place of the first Beirut bike lane.

The country holds a great number of cycling enthusiasts with events and rides organized regularly by community members or organizations (Beirut by Bike, Cycling Circle, etc). However, it has a long way to go until its roads are deemed 100 percent safe for cyclists. Nevertheless, this still counts as a step in the right direction.

  1. Composite Sustainable Indicators Framework for Cost Assessment of Land Transport Mode in Lebanon Cities

The aim of the work performed in this paper is to present a composite indi- cators framework to guide sustainable transportation planning in Lebanon by assessing the sustainability marginal cost of Land Transport modes used mostly based on ICE (internal combustion engine) auto dependence. The framework covers 6 indicators of the triple bottom line of sustainability (economy, society, and environment): operating cost, energy consumption, noise exposure, congestion delay, emissions, and safety. The framework process follows an evaluation toolkit that monitors the cost implied from listed individual indicators of transport mode. Moreover, this evaluation me- thodology can be used to estimate to an acceptable degree the cost variation resulting from transport mode modifications within same geographical zone. This cost variance is the main interest of investors and decision makers seek- ing profits and successful results of their transportation planning process. A case study is executed in Lebanon GBA (Greater Beirut Area), where the an- nual cost of an alternative consisting of light rail transit (LRT) to passenger cars (PC) system is assessed; applying the stated methodology. Results show clearly an environmental amelioration with a reduction of 4,651,817,100 MJ of energy and 181,936 ton of CO2 emissions in addition to a saving of 255,643,035$ annually.

  1. In this section, a more detailed explanation on why Beirut requires a public transport system will be explained, andwhat the broad objectives are that it may need to fulfill.

In Lebanon, commuters mainly rely on private vehicles as a means for commuting to work and leisure purposesdue to the lack of credible mass public transport services. Such a transport system has a significant impact on theenvironment because of the continuous greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution.

The World Energy Council (2007) estimated that transport systems account for 25% of the world energyconsumption. Additional social costs are associated with conventional transport systems due to lost factors associatedwith congestion, such as the value of time spent in commuting, cost of accidents, vehicles operation costs, and carbon emission costs.

Sustainable transport systems and mass systems in particular reduce economic, social and environmental impacts.

In general, sustainable transport systems help reduce travel time, lower vehicle operation costs, result in less carbon emissions, decrease the number of road accidents, and improve overall road safety. In addition, they are considered to be affordable by most commuters, can operate at a high frequency, and are proven operationally to be very efficient. Sustainable transport systems do not always require additional major infrastructure but they do provide a real multi-modal choice of transport for all network users.

Such systems at this moment in time are featured in all major cities which show signs of economic stability and growth. To name a few we can cite London, Paris, Istanbul, New York, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. Understanding the transport systems in these cities, how they grow and what constrains them are important factors, as Beirut will certainly be competing with other cities around the region and in particular cities around the Mediterranean and Gulf to attract new investments. These investments may be via the relocation of already established companies, or by attracting new companies including international and multi-national ones.

Thus a sustainable transport system is needed in Lebanon and in Beirut in particular, to address transport issues

and objectives that include:

  • The limited road network in Lebanon, particularly Beirut, as it suffers from severe congestion, and a reduction in these congestion levels are sought, whilst not necessarily building more expensive infrastructure, as the only solution facing us

  • Increasing cost for businesses due to traffic congestion, as (1) employees are losing productive time being stuck in traffic jams rather than being at work (journey reliability a key issue exposed here), (2) employee commuters are under a lot of stress due to long hours on the road, which results in lower productive levels

  • Restriction on changes in the existing road infrastructure that does not allow for further widening to increase capacity, causing road bottlenecks that will get worse with the further development and growth

  • The spreading of the existing traditional peak hours causing constant congestion levels for a larger period of the day. This trend is on the increase as a result of the reliance on private cars as the main means of transport

  • The expected increase of congestion levels when the Beirut Master Plan is put into place with the heavy reliance on private cars as the main means of transportation. The city will be expected to be in a complete gridlock during the peak hours, and if private cars is the main means of transport then congestion levels are expected to get even worse, bringing the city to a complete gridlock during peak hours that are continuously spreading throughout the day 10 Economic Impacts of Adopting a Sustainable Transport System in Beirut

  • The continuously rising costs associated with using private cars (related to petrol, vehicle maintenance, parking, insurance etc.) turning the affordability of owning and using a car into an issue

  • The continuous rise of pollution levels in Beirut will get worse when the BCD and NWD are fully developed. The existing car dominated transport system is one of the main factors contributing to this air pollution problem. Thus a modal shift to public transport is welcomed on environmental grounds in terms of CO2 car emissions.

  1. Centre MINE: What's your Impact – Competition

Are you a Lebanese University student? Do you have a business project with a social and/or ecological impact?

Join the first student competition dedicated to business ideas with an impact before June 4th 2020, and get a chance to meet Lebanese and International experts, and join SPRINT, the first international network of impactful entrepreneurs operated by INCO

Go to 11.4.2