Posted by: Barrak Al-Babtain | May 7, 2010

Thoughts on the Metro

We can’t simply think of Kuwait Metro as an independent project. It should be seen as an integral element that is part of a multi-layered transportation network. For example, the small train that will be part of the Salmiya Park project should have easy access to a metro stop to basically expand the alternative transportation network beyond the metro itself.

Streetcars and buses are viable alternatives to patch urban areas that are inaccessible to the metro. These have to be planned together and put in place simultaneously. These can both provide shortcuts in the metro routes, as well as expanding the catchment areas where people can comfortably walk to a station. This is important in the dense urban areas. I can imagine a streetcar running through Canada Dry Street in Shuwaikh:

Most of the above ground rail lines will have to be elevated because in most places there simply isn’t any room for an on-grade light rail. This means that the stations will have to be elevated as well, like in Dubai. Access to the station (stairs, escalators, elevators) will have to be integrated into the pedestrian flow of the existing fabric. That is really hard and expensive. It has to be as easy as possible to walk to one of those things.

This is really ugly. Hilali street is going to be one of the busiest in Kuwait in a few years and will have lots of people walking on it once alHamra and United are finished. I would try to avoid elevated lines as much as possible (they cost a lot more than just building it on the ground). I would gladly sacrifice a lane on either side to make that happen. In fact, I would want it to look like this:

I moved the four lane two-way street to the north side and made the south side of the street pedestrian + light rail. I did the same thing for Canada Dry Street in the image earlier. That’s really the only way to keep the light rail network on grade because you save some space by removing the useless island that was in the middle of the road. It would be a bad idea to have an elevated light rail in the middle, flanked by a street on either side. I hope they don’t end up doing that because it’s the easier option (politically) even though it would end up being more expensive.


Responses

  1. The metro should be designed to improve the quality of life in the city. It’s not just for transportation and easing traffic, but it can also be a catalyst for good urban development. I think the last two images show clearly how the same project, done in two entirely different ways achieve the same transportation goal but create very different urban environments; one being far more appealing than the other.

  2. Its funny how we think about such drastic changes without even trying to think and engage with the simplest yet effective solutions.

    Here in Kuwait it seems people, including government members and parliament members, think for solutions that benefit their businesses not the country as a whole.

    funny.

    • I get that feeling with the current proposal for the metro. It seems designed more to make money and benefit the developments that are attached to it, rather than being a integral part of life in Kuwait; in the same way the Tube is in London.

      I would hate it if after all this time and money, it just turns out to be a shuttle service between the malls and airport, like in Dubai.

  3. In all honesty ministry people don’t take design into consideration when making this type of new transportation. Dubai developed the idea into a quality transportation system.

    I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t turn into a disaster!

  4. Barrak, im impressed by ur work mate, its nice to see u touching on the densification point (on mark’s blog)as well as the aesthetics on these proposed routes. As an expat who lived in kuwait for a couple of years and didnt own a car, i can personally attest to the nightmarish state of the public transportation system in kuwait. But things seem to be looking up with people like you taking up initiatives. Rather than restricting he development to one rapid transit system, i believe it has to be a comprehensive layered transit system, involving the subway, trams/streetcars and the buses. The 3 multilayered multi-speed modes completes the heirarchy and will solve many problems regarding the trickle down effect of passengers. Creating efficient parking lots and highdensity pedestrian zones and connecting them via street cars would transform maybe the californian car culture that exists in kuwait right now but im sure would lead to much more interesting urban texture and interaction. Just my two pennies.

  5. please call me an airhead (or don’t) but are these just ideas or is there ever going to be a metro?

    with the price of cars and the cost of owning a car relatively cheap in kuwait, i doubt most people would give up their cars to ride the metro amongst the “common people” (by this i mean low level labour).
    i don’t think kuwaitis would give up their cars.. but if this is to provide an alternative for the non car owning classes, then yeah, great substitute.

    ps. i would never call people “common people”, i’m just trying to highlight the elitist mentality in kuwait in relation to certain issues.


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