Climate change challenges in lebanon transport sector

Sector introduction

To be in line with an objective of 1.5- or 2-degree Celsius global temperature increase limit, the transport sector in Lebanon should reach net-zero emissions by 2050 or shortly after. At the same time, to ensure equity and a good quality of life, efficient, affordable, safe, and accessible transport must be available to all people across all geographical regions. In the transport sector, these two goals are complementary, since private cars are the least equitable and energy efficient transport mode.

Therefore, shifting from private cars to non-motorized modes and mass public transport would serve both transport objectives required for sustainable development. Moreover, mass public transport is affordable, which makes it accessible to the low-income population; it also reduces road congestions, thus increasing economic productivity; and it should be noted that most transport related accidents are due to private cars.

Nevertheless, realizing the full potential of non-motorized and mass public transport will not be enough to meet the long-term Paris Climate Agreement goals. For that,  the electrification of the entire transport sector, based on renewable energy technology, would be crucial. The transition to electric vehicles would not only reduce emissions but also reliance on fossil fuels, and it would improve air quality. The deployment of a renewable energy-based infrastructure is essential to sustain the electrification process. Such a shift towards renewable energy would also have implications on the energy sector, as the demand for electricity will increase.

Therefore, a comprehensive energy policy that ensures the development of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, should be implemented to support the transition to electric vehicles. Furthermore, policies to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, including incentives, tax credits, and subsidies, are necessary to ensure a smooth and successful transition. Ultimately, achieving net-zero emissions in the transport sector will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders: the government, the private sector, and civil society.

Sector description

The lack of a sustainable and effective transportation system and infrastructure in Lebanon has been a persistent problem for decades, aggravated by recent crises. The civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1990 severely damaged the country’s infrastructure, including its transportation systems, which the country has struggled to rebuild since then. More recently, the triple crisis of COVID-19, the economic and financial collapse, and the devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut in August 2020 have further compounded the challenges facing the transportation sector in Lebanon.

Land transport in Lebanon faces a range of obstacles that limit its effectiveness and sustainability. One key issue is the poor quality of roads, with only around 15% of roads considered to be in good condition. High levels of traffic congestion, particularly on main highways, also pose significant challenges to efficient and reliable transportation in the country. Finally, the lack of urban planning has resulted in inadequate public transportation options and a heavy reliance on private vehicles.

The weakness of public transport in Lebanon is another major issue, with limited options available and the suboptimal operation level of existing options due to poor maintenance, inadequate funding, and other factors. The result is that many people have few mobility options, particularly those with lower income or who live in remote areas. This lack of accessibility has wide-ranging impacts, from limiting job opportunities to hindering access to healthcare and education.

Overall, the challenges facing the transportation sector in Lebanon are significant and require urgent attention and investment.

Although there has been an abundance of transportation studies, policies, concepts, and designs in Lebanon over the past 25 years led by various authorities (ministries – municipalities – public agencies) and supported by several funding institutions, none of them presented a clear and specific long-term vision and targets.  In addition, most of these plans did not get the strong political endorsement required for their implementation (including budgeting, communication, and monitoring). Even though certain strategies and policies were approved in principle, they did not translate into laws, rules, institutional reforms, and further action plans.

Lebanon lacks crucial land transport infrastructure, especially rail and non-motorized transport modes facilities. The country also ranked 121 out of 138 in terms of road infrastructure quality. And the lack of significant initiatives to rehabilitate public transportation has had a negative impact on local economy. According to the World Bank, the land transport sector inefficiencies are costing the Lebanese economy more than two billion US dollars every year, or 5 to 10% of GDP. This is also reflected in the fact that Lebanon is ranked 17th in the world in terms of passenger vehicles per person (434 per 1,000 persons – Bloominvest Bank, 2015).

Which leads us to the main reason for the disastrous situation: the unbalanced modal split and the absence of a sustainable public transportation system. Lebanon lacks any mass transit or any kind of reliable public transport facilities, despite the high population density and the relatively short distances that would normally be favorable to such systems. Taxis and buses, mostly operating with insufficient regulations, are the primary modes of public transportation.

Today, the public transport system in Lebanon consists of low-capacity public and private buses (for about 24 passengers), private minibuses, and shared-taxis (“services”). The buses are in general of poor quality, old, fuel intensive and polluting. There are no fixed stops or bus shelters in the country, information/schedules are difficult to find, coverage is limited, and travel times are much longer than in cars as buses have no dedicated lanes and therefore compete with private vehicles on very congested roads. The modal share of trips within the Greater Beirut Area is estimated at: 10% by buses and minibuses, 19% by shared-taxis, and 71% by private cars (Kaysi, Harb, & Al-Dour, 2010).

The transportation sector increased greenhouse gas emissions by a factor of 3.9, reaching 6.1 million tons CO2 eq. in 2013, accounting for 23% of Lebanon’s total GHG emissions. This is primarily due to Lebanon’s growing number of registered vehicles (cars operate on 95/98 octane gasoline, and all small and large trucks run on diesel). Furthermore, the transportation sector adds to the greenhouse effect by accounting for 61% of NOx emissions, 100% of CO emissions, and 65% of NMVOCs. In addition, 94% of SO2 emissions come from fuel combustion for energy production.

On the percentage of energy consumed by the road transport sector, Lebanon’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions are compared to neighboring countries in the Middle East, North Africa (MENA), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, and other developed Mediterranean countries, such as Greece and Cyprus. In 2011, Lebanon came in second with 27.2 percent (31.3%) after Cyprus. The country consumes about twice as much as the global average, owing to the high energy demands of the Lebanese transportation sector.

It is also worth noting that the heavy reliance on automobiles generates other environmental issues; in addition to CO2 emissions, aging vehicle engines and frequent honking significantly contribute to noise pollution. The average noise level exceeds 75 decibels, when the standard level is 72 decibels.

2050 Sustainable Transport Vision

Lebanon transportation demand is expected to expand significantly by 2050, due to demographic and economic growth. To accommodate that growth, the country needs an integrated, well-planned transportation network that serves the needs of administrative and social services, economic development (industry – agriculture – commercial – tourism), educational establishments, and recreational / entertainment activities.

An integrated and efficient land transportation system by 2050 should:

  • Enable the achievement of sustainable development:

The transport sector is the economy’s circulatory system, and needs to be as efficient as possible, ensuring that the time and resources spent on mobility for economic activities are reduced to the minimum.

  • Allow for a healthier lifestyle:

Adequate transportation infrastructure and services have positive effects on people’s lifestyles. Prioritizing non-motorized transportation modes, such as walking and cycling, offers health benefits, reduces traffic accidents, and avoids toxic emissions.

  • Provide safe and accessible mobility options:

This is critical to enhancing opportunities for all sections of society, especially marginalized groups, as transport should be accessible to all socioeconomic classes, physical needs, and geographical locations. The aim is to provide safe, equitable, and reliable mobility within an environment that is sensitive to users’ needs.

  • Socially integrate all Lebanese people:

Transportation is the backbone of society. It can play a key role in how people interact, get together, and engage. It can promote social cohesion and a common identity.

  • Protect and preserve the environment:

Lebanon’s transportation sector should be in line with the long-term temperature goals outlined in the Paris Agreement and achieve net-zero emissions as soon as possible.

The expansion of Lebanon’s transportation demand will require an integrated approach that takes into account the needs of all sectors and regions. A well-planned transportation network will not only improve accessibility and mobility but also contribute to economic growth, job creation, and social development.

For administrative and social services, a reliable transportation system is crucial to ensure the efficient delivery of public services and access to healthcare, education, and government services. Economic development also requires a robust transportation system that can support the movement of goods and people across different regions and sectors. The agriculture and industry sectors, for example, rely heavily on transportation to move their products to markets and customers. The commercial and tourism sectors also depend on a reliable and efficient transportation system to attract customers and visitors.

In addition, educational establishments need safe and reliable transportation for students and staff; recreational and entertainment activities require efficient and accessible transportation options as well to attract visitors and support local economies. A well-planned transportation network can also reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Therefore, Lebanon needs a comprehensive and integrated transportation plan that considers the needs of different sectors and stakeholders. Such a plan should include measures to improve public transportation, enhance road safety, and encourage the use of low-carbon transport options. It should also involve institutional reforms, capacity building, and stakeholders’ engagement to ensure effective implementation and monitoring.

In this strategy, the above goals will be translated into two quantitative targets: a decrease in distances travelled by private cars, and the electrification of the transport sector. The targets for the transport sector are based on Lebanon’s updated INDC, the CVF aspirational target of 100% renewable energy by 2050, and global trends—including trends in the predicted development of internal combustion engines (ICEs), vs. the predicted development of electrically-enabled vehicles, and other zero-emission transport technologies. Lebanon aims to achieve (unconditional) 20% to (conditional) 30% GHG emission reduction compared to BAU by 2030.

Therefore, the 2030 targets for the transport sector in Lebanon are:

  • A 10% decrease in distances travelled by private cars.
  • EVs reaching 20% market share in terms of annual passenger-car and light-duty vehicles sold.

The 2050 targets for the transport sector are:

  • A 50% decrease in distances travelled by private cars.
  • EVs reaching 100% market share in terms of annual passenger-car and light-duty vehicles sold.

Strategic approach

Reaching the above vision and targets requires functionally integrated laws, regulations, policies, enforcement mechanisms, major programs for land transport public works (rehabilitation and construction), and development of mass urban transit systems. The challenge for achieving the above land transportation vision by 2050 is to identify how Lebanon intends to invest in the transportation system to accommodate current travel demands and future growth, while setting investment priorities, integrating innovative technologies with low-emissions facilities/services, and balancing limited funds. It is also vital that the developed strategy address cross-cutting issues, such as equity, accessibility, urban design, and social integration, as well as global trends, such as the rapidly evolving EV technology. Roadways, public transportation, bicycling, walking, inter-regional travel, and freight should all be included in the vision, and it is critical that transportation projects are coordinated at all levels of government (municipalities and relevant ministries).

Transport Demand Management

The main priority of the land transport sector is to strengthen alternative modes of transport to private cars, prioritized (excluding freight) in descending order as follows: non-motorized modes of transport such as biking and walking (especially within urban centers), mass public transport (including trains and buses), car sharing programs (including service cars and private carpooling programs), motorcycles, and finally the taxi and private cars. In addition, there should be an effective Transport Demand Management (TDM) strategy in place striving to reduce the length and frequency of individual trips through various methods, rather than just cater to the current public demand for trips. A TDM strategy would also help Lebanon predict transport demand in the future, and know what trips are being made, by whom, and for what purpose, assisting in various socioeconomic strategic thinking and planning beyond the land transport sector.

TDM strategies include creating pedestrian areas, favoring sidewalks, and implementing infrastructure for non-motorized transport modes. Urban planning plays a big role in reducing the length and number of trips in urban areas by ensuring that key services could be provided in each section of an urban center within walking distance. Therefore, a TDM strategy includes encouraging decentralized family-run shops rather than big malls, which strengthens SMEs and increase income equality. Similar to other Mediterranean countries, Lebanon has excellent weather most of the year, ideal for outdoors culture, with social interactions in open public spaces that benefit community life.

A TDM strategy should also encourage change in social behavior and attitudes towards private cars and alternative transport modes for the Lebanese public, by making car use less advantageous and public transport more convenient and desirable. For example, having dedicated lanes for public transport inside and between urban centers will make trips shorter in public transport. Forbidding random parking and enforcing metered parking will also make cars less advantageous.

Reliable, decent and effective alternatives must be implemented prior to enforcing policies to reduce private cars use. An effective and affordable mass public transport is essential to absorb a major portion of the shift from private cars. Encouraging the use of motorcycles as an alternative mode of transport could also be a successful strategy for Lebanon. In many countries, including Italy, Spain, and many Asian and Latin American countries, the motorcycle is an important mode of transport that reduced pollution, causes less traffic, and is more convenient than the car. In Thailand, 85% of all households own a motorcycle. In Europe, the highest use of motorcycles is along the Mediterranean coast, where the weather is favorable. Italy is the seventh country in the world in terms of motorcycle use per capita. Most car trips are done with only one or two individuals, wasting road space and gasoline; a motorcycle can transport the same two individuals with less space and emissions, reducing traffic and pollution.

Electrification of Transportation

Supported by technological development and political momentum in various parts of the world, the electric vehicles (EV) market has been growing steadily and is expected to continue growing through the 2020s, to reach 32% of all annual global passenger-car and light-duty vehicles in sale by 2030 (Deloitte, 2020).

It is a fact that EVs will dominate key global markets; more than 22 countries, 12 U.S. states, and a growing number of cities world-wide have put deadlines for banning the internal combustion engine in passenger vehicles. This includes the biggest markets like China, India, France, Japan, Germany, California, the United Kingdom, and Canada, which is triggering a complete shift in the industry. At the same time, around 90 companies have committed to similar targets and have joined the EV100 initiative to accelerate the shift towards 100% EVs, including companies like Uber and Unilever. This implies that a transition to EV-type vehicles will occur regardless of local policies; it is therefore an opportunity for Lebanon to prepare and be positively affected by the transition, instead of simply being a bystander of an inexorable change.

In order to reach the Paris Climate Agreement goals, both targets of 100% EV and 100% renewable energy must go hand-in-hand. Actually, they are both required to achieve the renewable energy target, as electrifying the transport sector will increase the demand for sustainable and reliable electricity. Therefore, having a more efficient transport sector, especially decreasing the private car use, is necessary to manage the electricity demand. Another concern with the 100% EV target is the required change in infrastructure, particularly having enough and well-distrusted fast-charging stations for electric vehicles. Previous private initiatives, and the rapidly growing decentralized renewable energy since early 2021, show that deployment of EV infrastructure is feasible in Lebanon. Therefore, a well-designed strategy for electrification infrastructure needs must be developed and equitably distributed to improve the quality of life for all Lebanese.

An important note is that, although EV technology has rapidly developed and the use of EVs is increasing globally, other technologies also have strong potential, including vehicles powered by hydrogen, biodiesel, and methane gas produced through anaerobic digestion of organic waste. Several GCC countries are investing heavily in hydrogen fuel production. The incentive is that countries like Qatar can use the existing methane gas infrastructure for storing and transporting hydrogen gas. In Lebanon, part of the existing infrastructure for fossil fuel vehicles can also be used for alternative fuels, especially biodiesel. Incorporating alternative fuels into future strategies and plans are necessary to understand what fossil fuel infrastructures will continue to be used, and which ones will be decommissioned as Lebanon decarbonizes its economy.

Cross cutting elements

As indicated above, urban planning and the energy sector are strongly intertwined with the transport sector. Urban planning and design play an important role in TDM strategies, and affect the length of trips required. Shifting to electrified transport modes will increase electricity demand, which is another important reason to have efficient mobility and reduce the use of private cars.

In addition, the above strategy has implications on waste generation, especially the increase in scrapped fossil fuel vehicles and new components from electric vehicles, such as batteries. Lebanon needs to incorporate these changes in waste streams into its circular economy strategy.

Integrating biofuels can also affect agriculture and food security. With limited available land, the biofuels production can compete with food production for agricultural land, unless it is produced from organic waste.

Action plan

There are several solutions for the transportation system, both on a small scale (changes that require low investments) and on a larger scale (changes that require big investments). Transportation reforms can give Lebanon a fresh start, with an adequate policy to identify the best sustainable solutions for the country’s challenges, and promising interventions with an immediate impact on the country’s economic and environmental goals.

Moreover, reforms should not only be implemented, but also continuously supervised and monitored. Monitored and updated reforms, allowing the implementation of physical projects towards sustainable transportation, would indeed secure national cohesion and better accessibility to all Lebanese regions. Supervision, monitoring, and maintenance should be in accordance with both time needs and geography requirements.

From the time perspective, reforms should always be updated and monitored in order to adapt to their period. All parties involved in the reforms’ implementation should be asking: what will the transportation needs and requirements be for 2030 and 2050? And how can we ensure that the current reforms will adapt to and manage those requirements?

From a geographical point of view, reforms should be implemented according to a vision that helps all areas, cities, and villages in Lebanon to be gradually, yet effectively, more linked together, within a greater territorial consistency in the planned comprehensive transport system. This is particularly necessary to reach the strategy’s equity goals, ensuring that marginalized communities are not left behind.

The following transformational reforms should be achieved:

  • Sectoral/regulatory reforms: Sectoral and regulatory reforms provide institutions and policies for the management and sustainability of the implemented projects.
  • Institutional reforms: Institutional reforms are necessary for any reliable improvement of the national transport system; it would be beneficial to set up an organizing authority for transport, which should be regionalized according to coherent pre-defined parameters. The implementation of institutional reforms would require a relatively broad political consensus from Municipalities, the Ministry of Interior and Municipal Affairs, and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
  • Environmental reforms: Environmental guidelines and policies to reduce, minimize or eliminate harm from the transport sector on ecosystems or the environment are still not complete. Despite the availability of laws, decrees, ministerial decisions, and application decrees related to road transport and air pollution since the 1960s, they all require updating, reviewing, approving and/or strengthening for effective implementation and enforcement.
  • A tax reform: A taxation reform that would increase the system’s overall efficiency and sustainability is necessary. If it is not implemented, Lebanon will continue relying on national debt to fund its programs and projects. Such subsidies should flow within a transparent structure and clear reporting to the general public, through the following key principles:
  • Ticketing Policy (tolls, parking, tickets for the whole system, etc.).
  • Transportation fees/tax policy (registration, yearly car safety/emission test, freight, etc), end-user contribution (to network maintenance, operation, etc.), fuel taxes.
  • Traffic Law Violation tickets.
  • Taxation in Construction and Design.

The following actions should be taken in order to facilitate the implementation of transport reforms and policies aiming to preserve the environment and develop sustainable mobility in Lebanon:

  • Increasing cycling/walking safety and convenience in urban areas:

Road transport in Lebanon consists of motorized vehicles with very rare equipment for non-motorized modes. Ultimately, urban areas (and more specifically areas with high density) should be walkable, open for all modes, and respectful of safety requirements. Reaching this goal will require a combination of technical / infrastructures adjustments and implementation of adequate regulations (including enforcement) in order to adapt the users’ behaviors.

  • Promoting and improving an integrated public transportation service:

Maximizing the use of affordable public transportation should be a primary objective of the transport sector. Public transportation would also provide more mobility options for all socio-professional categories through an interconnected transportation system that meets the real needs of people from various Lebanese regions and with varying financial means. A comprehensive system would also ensure the reduction of urban transportation travel time. Implementing mobility plans would guarantee safer, faster and easier travels, more reliable travel times with less congestions and a greater choice of travel modes. All citizens/users must be targeted by the mobility policy, therefore adequate accessibility should be provided to all areas. All urban centers in Lebanon should have efficient, affordable and diversified public transport modes.

  • Law enforcement, institutional capacity strengthening, and sector capacity building:

Traffic management, control programs, and transportation strategies rely heavily on law enforcement and an adequate institutional framework, which would support safety conditions on road networks, optimize the traffic management system, and maintain serene sharing between all transport modes (motorized, non-motorized, public transport, mass transit, etc.). The institutional and human capital will drive the transportation vision and support land transportation development.

  • Development of a long-term financing mechanism:

Investment is required to build new transportation infrastructure and rehabilitate what is already in place. Securing sustainability is not possible without an efficient and robust coverage of expenses for investment and operation of transport facilities. These facilities often operate under a non-financial, self-maintained system, mainly because of externalities, but also because of the important initial investment and the need for continuous maintenance.

  • Formation of a funding agencies coordination group:

Coordination would promote enabling conditions for budget support and the implementation of sector-wide approaches; it is also a tool for assisting the government in establishing sound monitoring and evaluation of evidence-based policy formulation. It would avoid redundancy in projects’ preparation, support the standardization of guidelines and norms (technical, operational, mitigation measures for social and environmental impacts), and optimize governmental resources and capacity building programs.

  • Promotion of effective public-private partnerships (PPP):

PPPs can be an effective tool to build and implement new transportation infrastructures and facilities, as well as renovate, operate, maintain, or manage existing resources. PPPs can be used to optimize risks sharing, which could solve critical transportation problems in both hard (physical) and soft (operational) contexts. However, these solutions should be implemented within a transparent procedure and an appropriate institutional framework. PPPs in the transport sector can be done on various levels, national and sub-national. Community-based transportation systems, such as solar-bike systems, can be set up in all towns and cities across Lebanon. Such innovative approaches can create local jobs and economic opportunities. 

  • Reducing traffic congestion in dense residential and commercial areas:

Traffic congestion hinders economic growth and transport systems. The time spent in traffic congestions, delays in delivery of goods, increased fuel consumption, and health risks due to congestion induced pollution have short and long-term impacts on the economy. Reducing the reliance on private cars, improved urban planning, traffic law enforcement, etc. are all strategies that will contribute to reducing traffic congestion.

  • Improving and maintaining road and rail networks:

Although research has shown that increasing the width and length of roads does encourage the use of private cars, there is a need in Lebanon to build new roads and improve/maintain existing ones. The innovative improvement of roads and rail networks can also benefit a TDM strategy. For example, the implementation of dedicated lanes for buses and the railway network development will motivate a higher number of road users to shift to public transport and, therefore, significantly decrease congestions and facilitate traffic, providing access to the whole territory.

In order to successfully accomplish all the transportation objectives by 2050, some milestones should be set to help the government (with the involvement of the private sector) gradually but surely reach that vision. Therefore, by 2030, the following urgent actions should be taken:

  • Planning the development of Lebanon’s public land transport sector to reach the above suggested vision and targets by 2050, by addressing climate change issues and the necessity to provide good quality of life for all.
  • Creating contracts for private-sector services and tendering them in a competitive and fair process that allows for community-based solutions and projects.
  • Creating and implementing a program to continuously improve the quality of services provided by the public and private sector on national and sub-national levels.
  • Identifying routes where service is important from a social perspective (poor, isolated, and/or deprived areas), and contracting with the private sector to provide the needed service.
  • Providing a suitable platform for private sector contractors and passenger representatives to participate in the negotiations on the private sector’s performance and service improvement.
  • Providing complete and up-to-date information and statistics on the public land transportation network.
  • Developing a plan for the integration of public transport and soft modes to reduce the use of private cars.
  • Developing an EV national strategy.

Major programs and projects

Certain transportation projects, programs and strategic studies, prepared before the recent crisis, could benefit the above vision and targets if implemented as soon as possible, while a more detailed strategizing and planning is underway. This would also lead to an early emission reduction, as required in the Paris Climate Agreement long-term goals. The most relevant projects and studies for this strategy are:

  1. GB Transit Network – BRT:

Developing the design of a BRT System for the Northern Corridor of Greater Beirut, from Beirut to Tabarja, to decrease congestion and encourage the use of Public Transportation.

  • Greater Beirut Area Public Bus Network:

A bus network covering the GBA, and its requirements for adequate services (location of stations and stops, frequencies, required number of buses, etc.).

  • Supportive Projects GBA & Major Cities:

Facilitation of public transport implementation, roads’ organization and safety in Beirut and its surroundings as well as in major Lebanese cities.

  • Soft Modes (PDD) in Major Cities:

Promoting sustainable transport, especially in urban areas.

  • GBA Metro:

Implementation of a Mass Transit Network that would meet mobility, environmental, social and economic requirements in the GBA.

  • Railway Tripoli – Syrian border:

Rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Tripoli – Akkar rail link from the Port of Tripoli to Abboudieh at the northern Lebanese-Syrian Border that connects to the Syrian rail network and, through it, to regional railway networks.

  • Railway Beirut-Saida-Tyr:

Reconstruction of the Beirut-Saida-Tyr railway with its lines and stations.

  • Rehabilitation of Specific Roads:

Road maintenance to keep pavement, shoulders, slopes, drainage facilities and other structures and property within the road margins as close as possible to their original or renewed condition.

  • Périphérique de Beirut (Beirut Ring Road):

For improving the quality of the route that connects the major roads south, east and north of the Beirut area.

  1. Tripoli Eastern Ring Road:

Construction of a 9.4km long urban expressway with service roads as a south-north corridor on the east side of Tripoli.

Conclusion and Suggestions

A future vision should comprise adequate technical support to various parties involved in addressing the growing mobility needs of the Lebanese population, especially during times of crisis. A retrospective look at the reconstruction policy implemented after the end of the Lebanese civil war shows that it failed to bring the country back on the path to development. Public policies, sectarian divisions, and corrupt practices aggravated existing problems and created new ones that are exacerbated now by the current economic crisis. Therefore, there is great need to rebuild a comprehensive vision, civic values and more transparent procedures. A whole recovery program for the country that should also include basic actions to optimize the use of the available means and facilities before implementing any long-term projects.

While implementing a modal split in public transport can reduce the number of cars and offenses in the public space, replacing gasoline-powered cars with more “clean power” vehicles does little to improve the public space. To address urban problems, it is necessary to take a transversal approach that would regulate all polluting activities and practices, prioritize citizens’ living conditions and their right to the city, including access to a healthy and fully accessible public space.  

A sustainable development process requires an integrated and non-sectoral approach. Funding Agencies and international institutions should include an introductory text addressed to political leaders and other concerned actors on this matter. Simply buying buses, building apartments, or passing laws is not enough to address complex issues.

In addition, a resilient transportation infrastructure should prioritize accessibility, sustainability, and efficiency. Therefore, instead of solely targeting 100% electric vehicles, it is recommended to widen the scope to reach 100% carbon emission-free output by 2050. For that, it is crucial to focus on enabling different stakeholders, especially the private sector, to contribute to these targets by providing guidance, specific incentives, and even penalties if necessary. For example, offering subsidies or incentives to bus operators that adhere to a specific schedule, route and times, as part of the “National bus plan”, can encourage them to join the system. Empowering commuters by offering them a digital payment card that can only be used in buses can also be part of the “National bus plan”.

Creating car-free streets – for instance in Hamra street or Gemayzeh street (in Beirut), Fouad Chehab Avenue (in Tripoli), Ilia Square (in Saida) and Commercial streets (in Zahlé) – can set an example for sustainable transportation. While people may resist the change at first, they will appreciate it later on. Only pedestrians, specific buses (or a tram), and cyclists would be allowed to enter the street. Residents and shop-owners and can enter with a car or truck between 6 am and 10 am for restocking purposes.

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