A Smarter Way Forward for Tbilisi City
April 27, 2018
The physical features of Tbilisi in Georgia give it a picturesque look and unique character. The same features, however, have become a challenge for the city’s mobility. The hilly nature of Tbilisi, along with the poor quality of its public transport, high road congestion, unregulated taxis, and cheap parking impede its shift to sustainable urban mobility.
Yet, with support from CDIA and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the city has started to take on a smarter way forward, where innovative strategies and international standards are considered in transport planning.
To help the Tbilisi Transport Department (TD) ‘do things in the right way,’ CDIA is undertaking a new project in close collaboration with ADB’s Promoting Smart Systems, a technical assistance funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. The CDIA-ADB partnership enables the long-term placement of an Urban Transport Advisor within the TD to provide strategic guidance on policy development, along with a team comprising of an Urban Management Specialist and four more transport experts who will support TD in accomplishing, amongst others:
TD Business Planning. This involves training TD staff on management aspects so they can effectively benchmark their progress on key performance indicators, make full use of business plans in running their department, and capitalize on established strategies and standards.
Update of the Tbilisi Sustainable Urban Transport Strategy (SUTP). The city’s SUTP is now being revised to incorporate newer concepts such as livability of the city, and recent strategies on parking, taxi, and bus network improvement, among others.
Development of a Transport Authority. Efforts are likewise ongoing for the creation of a Transport Authority envisaged to manage all transport functions for the city. This is to address the current fragmented set up which delegates different transport duties to various departments.
Design of Priority Measures for Buses. One way to increase the operational speed of buses is to add more bus lanes. However, with the TD needing capacity support in transport modeling and design tools, CDIA has recently posted four additional experts to train at least 10 TD staff: Tim Gould for bus lanes, parking, cycling, and development control; David Parkin for traffic management, signals, LINSIG, and data collection; William Koraska for CAD; and Richard Skitt for Vissim and data collection.
“We hope that [at the end of our engagement] the TD staff are more capable to draw and design, and can elevate other aspects of their work to international bus practice level. We also hope that their professional drawings could help facilitate the approval of additional infrastructure on the ground such as bus lanes,” said Urban Transport Advisor Mark Sellin.
Other Activities. The team of experts will further advise the city in activities such as procurement of used buses, improvement in the collection of bus data and related statistics, improvement of metro interchanges, and review of the city’s masterplan.
The Urban Transport Advisor Project is an offshoot of two project preparatory studies that CDIA has developed with the City. The first study focused on: measures to improve the bus network, concepts for bus-based or rail-based surface transit corridor, and a 10-point parking strategy. The second study on the other hand proposed specific rehabilitation works so that the Tbilisi Metro meets present day technical, operation, safety and accessibility standards. The ADB is financing the initial emergency repairs with an investment value of USD 14 million.
“The Urban Transport Advisor Project, being our third project in Tbilisi indicates that we have a very good engagement with the city,” said CDIA Program Manager Neil Chadder. “This allows us to see other avenues of support we can provide, hence for the first time, we have extended our involvement to include capacity development work leading to actual project implementation,” he added
Guided by the new CDIA Strategy which encourages broader city engagement and better responsiveness to the needs of cities and funding agencies, the Tbilisi experience provides a glimpse of how CDIA will work with cities in the years to come.
L-R: Urban Transport Advisor Mark Sellin, CDIA Program Manager Neil Chadder and Associate Project Analyst, ADB Georgia Resident Mission Tea Papuashvili
Mark Sellin with one of the staff of Tbilisi Transport Department
Mark Sellin, Neil Chadder and Tea Papuashvili with Tbilisi Deputy Mayor Maia Bitadze