Saudi Arabia launched a tender process to build a new metro system in the capital in an effort to ease congestion on the city's gridlocked roads.
According to studies carried out by the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), nearly 85 percent of the population of Riyadh uses private cars as their primary mode of transport.
Some 8 percent rely on buses while another 5 percent depend on limousines. Only 2 percent of people take advantage of the public transport system, which is only nominal in the largest city in the Gulf.
Saudi Arabia has only limited public transport facilities and Riyadh suffers grinding congestion for much of the day and into late evenings. In December the government announced a SR690 riyal ($184 billion) budget for 2012, as it seeks to boost infrastructure, education and health.
The Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) invited international consortia to prequalify for the project, which it wants to be finished in four years. " ADA invites global consortia specialized in the production and supply of rolling stock, control and telecommunications systems as well as metro tunneling, civil, mechanical and electrical works to prequalify for Riyadh metro project," it said in a statement. Metro projects typically cost billions of dollars to build.
The prequalification notice came with a June 20 deadline.
In April, the Saudi Cabinet approved plans to develop a new public transport network in the city within four years that would include both a metro and a new fleet of buses.
The project will be overseen by a committee headed by Prince Sattam, Emir of Riyadh region and chairman of ADA. The committee will include the finance and transport ministers.
According to the plans, the metro project will constitute the backbone of the public transport project. The plans proposed six major routes with a length of 181 km.
Route 1 (Blue line) contains Olayya-Batha-Hair axis with a length of 44 km and will have 39 stations.
Route 2 (Green line) will cover King Abdullah Road (22 km and 14 stations) whereas Route 3 (Red line) will cover Madinah-Saad bin Abdulrahman Roads (45 km and 32 stations).
Route 4 (Orange line) plans to cover Airport Road with 32 km and 13 stations, whereas Route 5 (Yellow line) contains King Abdulaziz Road (26 km and 25 stations).
Route 6 (Violet line) covers Abdulrahman bin Auf-Shiekh Hasan Ali Roads (12 km, nine stations).
The bus transport network will cover all areas of Riyadh that will be integrated with the metro project in terms of stations on main lines of the city.
The bus network will comprise four major levels as follows:
A high capacity network with a length of 95 km. Part of the network will be allocated for emergency vehicles such as the Red Crescent, fire fighting and traffic and security organs.
A support ring network with a length of 100 km will connect different districts of the city with medium-capacity buses.
The third will cover a secondary network with a length of 575 km, whereas the fourth part will cover a local network to serve districts by minibuses.
The Saudi Gazette, Arab News