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CDIA Identifies Gaps, Prospective Actions for Improving Access in Tbilisi Metro

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The ongoing project preparation study (PPS) on Georgia Livable Cities Project aims to develop a roadmap of investments that will provide universal access and enable inclusive mobility for the passengers of the Tbilisi Metro system in Georgia’s capital. The project is pipelined for Asian Development Bank financing.

At the interim workshop held this month, a team of CDIA technical experts shared their insights on what constitutes ‘accessibility’ as far as the Tbilisi Metro system and its surroundings is concerned, the access and mobility challenges based on Georgia’s legal and regulatory frameworks, and the potential actions and investments required to enable a better transport experience and improve city livability, in general. They were able to define the concepts based on their review of national and international definitions and standards, particularly those of the United Nations and European Union.

“We are halfway through the PPS and so far, we have been able to unpack the issues that hamper the accessibility of the Tbilisi Metro system,” says Fabienne Perucca, Urban Development Specialist in charge of the CDIA PPS. “We have also been able to create a list of possible actions to address the gaps based on the assessments and stakeholder engagements made,” she adds.

The CDIA team considered various dimensions to characterize the gaps and challenges in Metro accessibility. These include physical continuity, service and facilities, space management, information, assistance and guidance, and safety and emergency.

How these dimensions are exhibited in the station, to and from the station, to and from other transport modes, and at the network level further allowed a full vision of the issues hindering universal access and inclusivity in the Metro system.

The team also conducted comprehensive stakeholder engagements during June and July to incorporate the views and opinions of the Metro users and attendants, vendors, and inhabitants in the vicinity of the stations into the formulation of action points. CDIA likewise held focus group discussions with representatives from the City Hall and Tbilisi Transport Company (TTC); as well as various associations representing the vulnerable segments of the population like persons with disabilities (PWD) to ensure that their needs are taken on board.

“We have developed the framework for looking at the Metro accessibility issues in a critical and comprehensive manner,” says Fabienne. “The results of the assessments and stakeholder engagements formed the basis of our recommended actions to improve accessibility of the Metro system,” she adds.

CDIA recommended measures to fully mechanise passenger access to stations such as elevators or escalators, including PWD equipment for escalators. They likewise proposed auxiliary improvements for the vulnerable and regular passengers, such as step suppression, accessibility ramps, adequate signage, lighting, tactile surfaces, information and ticketing desks.

With the intent to improve urban design and city livability, CDIA presented measures to upgrade the streets and public spaces in the vicinity of the stations. They also proposed commercial reorganization around the stations with areas to accommodate kiosks or street vendors.

Akhmeteli Theatre, Marjanishvili and Liberty Square stations will be subjected to more analysis to determine their access capacities and the possibility of second access points.

To further improve safety, the CDIA team reminded stakeholders of the facilities recommended in the 2017 CDIA PPS such as adding more escalators and ventilators because actions related to safety are pre-condition to accessibility measures.

CDIA will finalize and prioritize the list of interventions with the Tbilisi Transport and Urban Development Agency and TTC and formulate the investment plan, pre-feasibility and outline designs of prioritized infrastructure projects in Phase 2 of the PPS.

“It is imperative that the Metro system is accessible to all kinds of passengers and we will ensure that the recommended actions will ultimately lead to a better mobility. After all, universal access and inclusive mobility are the foundations of a livable city,” says Fabienne.

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