Huge transportation projects are underway in Kuwait in order to improve the country's connectivity with its neighbors and reduce its congestion and traffic problems. Kuwait is keeping pace with its regional counterparts and is set to begin implementing its own rail and metro projects as part of the GCC's wider efforts to improve public transportation networks. According to Middle East rail expert and Rail Manager for Arup, Oliver Billings, "Existing transport infrastructure is limited to the motor vehicle, with journey times severely affected by peak hour traffic. After a number of years of slow infrastructure development, this appears to be changing."
This change can be seen in the likes of the Kuwait metro project, which is one of the key pillars of the government's strategy to achieve its goals. Conceptual studies have been completed for the mass transit system in Kuwait and tenders are currently being assessed by the country's Public Private Partnerships (PPP) body, the Partnerships Technical Bureau, for the role transactions advisor to take the project forward. The new public transport system will reach 550kms upon completion and will cover the northern and southern parts of the country as well as critical infrastructure such as airports and railway stations.
The successful consortium will have its work cut out for it because of Kuwait's extreme weather conditions and the lack of prior planning within the country's transportation infrastructure. Finding solutions to these issues will be of paramount importance and assessing examples from throughout the region could provide clues as to how similar issues have been overcome. Such case studies will be investigated along with Kuwait's key transportation projects at IQPC's Urban Transportation Summit - Kuwait, which is being held under the patronage of Kuwait's Ministry for Public Works.
Other issues will also be addressed, including overcoming the transition from cars to public transportation, which has been a major problem in this part of the world. Governments across the GCC have been assessing various strategies to encourage a mode shift towards public transportation. Oliver explains that whilst there is a key role for the private car in future development in Kuwait city, the inherent inefficiency of car-based living in high density urban areas is now a major constraint to future success.
He continues by adding, "Integrated land use and transportation planning must address this in a manner that creates attractive places to live, work and play without dependence on private cars and with excellent provision for mass transit and pedestrian movements. Policies including parking strategies have an important role to play in supporting the essential investment in public transport."