The rapid rate at which urban centres in Algeria are growing has put pressure on the country to develop an efficient and modern transport system. Although population growth rates have slowed slightly, from 2.2% in 2015 to 1.9% in 2017, the percentage of the population living in urban areas has risen steadily, from 72.1% in 2015 to 76% in 2018. Dealing with the increasing number of inhabitants has become a priority for the government, with the nationwide implementation of intermodal transport systems set to mark an important step forward in the modernisation process.
Algiers is the first and only Algerian city to possess a fully integrated, intermodal public transport system. The multi-modal transport network card (carte réseau de transport multi-modal, CTM) can be used on all bus, train, metro, tram and cable car services, including services that run to and from Houari Boumediene Airport. The card utilises a common information repository system called Refoco, which allows for the interoperability of ticketing systems. The same information system is also in place in various locations across France.
Before the card became operational in June 2018, an agreement protocol was signed by all public transport operators, as well as by Yacine Krim, director of the Urban Transport Authority of Algiers (Autorité Organisatrice des Transports Urbains d’Alger, AOTU-A) and director of the Urban and Suburban Transport Establishment of Algiers. As part of the multi-modal drive, the new terminal at Houari Boumediene Airport will include a metro and a railway station.
The CTM is available free of charge at every urban transport station in Algiers. The plan is to replicate the scheme in all the major cities, including Oran, Annaba, Constantine, Ouargla and Sidi Bel Abbès. A mobile application called Archidni, launched as a partnership project between the government and the university of Bab Ezzouar, allows transport users to look up information on traffic jams and delays. “The development of new technologies and mobile applications is set to play a decisive role in improving connections between citizens and companies,” Abdelghani Zalene, minister of transport and public works, told OBG.
The multi-modal transport map released alongside the new card provides an overview of the multi-modal transport system and features a layout of all available means of transport, the intersection points that connect them, and the location of designated parking areas in the capital. The maps can be found on display in public transport vehicles and stations, and are also distributed as leaflets free of charge across the network.
Established by executive decree in 2012, AOTU-A is an autonomous body that aims to increase the attractiveness of public transport, particularly by promoting multi-modality, simplifying access to information and modernising the network. As of January 2017 the organisation had 50 employees. “A single autonomous transport authority is needed to handle information and regulate the volume of public transport vehicles,” Yacine Bendjaballah, managing director of the National Rail Transport Company, told OBG. “The authority should also make the networks more efficient, help combat congestion, lower transport costs and reduce CO emissions.” In addition to Algiers, autonomous public transport authorities now exist in eight other wilayas (provinces), and share the task of supervising all public transport services and promoting multi-modality.
The authorities are looking to make sure intermodality becomes a standard feature of future projects not just in urban transit, but at every level of the country’s transport infrastructure. “Infrastructure projects are now designed and constructed to facilitate multi-modal connectivity, and create exchange hubs in both urban and rural areas,” Zalene told OBG. Projects to enhance connectivity between port and rail links are especially important in helping bolster Algeria’s potential as a logistics hub.
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