Traffic Causes and Solutions in Lebanon

Topics: Parking space, Parking lot, Parking Pages: 9 (2414 words) Published: July 4, 2013
With its approximately 2 million inhabitants, Beirut suffers from overpopulation of not only humans, but also cars. In a capital where scarcity of land is a serious problem, Beirutis face the daily problem of very limited parking spaces. More and more buildings are being constructed. More and more cars are being bought. The municipality has done little more than talk about building more parking lots. This issue is not only affecting public streets, but also private institutions. A case in point is the American University of Beirut, where finding a parking place can be a mission impossible. Abed Shaar, 22, once spent an hour and a half driving around the AUB campus in Hamra in search of an available parking spot. Not surprisingly, he ended up missing his Engineering class.  

Ghaith Najjar, a 20-year-old Business major, spends around 45 minutes daily trying to find a parking lot and sometimes ends up paying a 10,000 LL [$6] ticket to avoid missing his class. Hani Al-Ayoubi, 21, keeps his car at his house in Koura so that his aunt can drive him to university every day. These students aren’t alone. According to an informal poll conducted at AUB last year, more than 70 percent of the students surveyed spend more than 40 minutes daily searching for a parking spot. “I tend not to worry about my studies as much as I worry about finding a parking spot before my classes start,” said Shaar, a Master’s student in Engineering Management.  According to the poll, about 77 percent of students who have cars are willing to pay $100 a month to have a guaranteed parking space. Although AUB is a private university, it has failed to provide a convenient parking area for its more than 7,000 students. The AUB-owned Corniche parking lot located next to the OSB Olayan School of Busines building is the only available parking area for students, and it only has 200 spaces. Up until this year, students paid 2,500 LL to park there for an entire day. But AUB tripled the daily rate during the summer of 2010 after it contracted the lot out to a valet company in order to create “an extra 40 to 50 spots,” said Dean of Student Affairs Talal Nizameddin. Director of the Office of Financial Planning and Budget Drew Wickens referred to an email sent by the dean of Student Affairs on November 2 of last year stating that “The space allocated by AUB for student parking is only a temporary solution aimed at utilizing an existing space which eventually will become a construction site." Nevertheless, he added that “the administration is keeping an open mind to workable and affordable solutions that would help students commute to AUB.” The unit managing day-to-day parking operations for faculty and staff at AUB is the office of Auxiliary Services, which failed to provide any information for this report. “I am sick of having students asking me about the parking issue each and every single year,” said Katia Zakhem, the director of the Auxiliary Services office. Last year, a group of Engineering students devoted their final project to proposing solutions to the parking problem. They proposed constructing a building on the lower campus that might serve as an additional space for both girls’ dorms and parking lots. “Nevertheless, AUB imposes strict criteria on any proposed project before allowing its implementation,” said one of the students, Elie Gedeon. Gedeon highlighted the budgetary problem as the primary obstacle for the project’s implementation. He said that AUB relies on external donors for the application of its projects, so why not for the parking project as well. “Everything is donated. Even trees,” said Gedeon. “Scarcity of land is another problem that needs to be addressed,” said Dean of Students Affairs Nizameddin. “AUB cannot please everyone.” He added that the new Vice President for University Advancement Richard Brow is open to any proposal as long as it is “scientific” and meets AUB standards. Moreover, according to the university parking...
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