a knowledge capacity development project
Old Town Tbilisi
From 1990 to 2015, urban population in Asia and the Pacific Region doubled within this period and grew faster than any other region. Between 2015 and 2050, Asia’s cities are expected to rise from 50% to about 65% of its total population, which will rise from 2.1 billion to 3.3 billion people. While this presents opportunities for higher productivity and better living standards, there are several risks – so integrated urban planning is needed. To engage selected cities in an integrated approach towards becoming more livable, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) established the Future Cities Program (FCP) in the Asia and Pacific Region.
One of these selected cities is Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. The city, while historic and attractive (judging by the rapidly increasing volume of tourists over the last years), faces several urban problems such as traffic congestion, pollution, and poor public transport service. The AIT Austrian Institute of Technology was engaged under ADB’S FCP to provide Tbilisi with expert knowledge and capacity building in urban transport.
Based on the identification of present gaps in urban transport planning and operations management, the main issues in transport in Tbilisi were identified. A prioritization exercise conducted in close cooperation with ADB and local representatives has led to the following feasible items as part of AIT’s work:
- Analysis for planning and optimization of multimodal transport hubs
- Multi modal transport data collection via smartphone app based tool
- Capacity building and further linkages
Analysis for planning and optimization of multimodal transport hubs
The aim was to execute a detailed simulation of crowd and traffic flows within the area of Didube station, located in the north of Tbilisi. This station is one of the hot spots in the city’s public transport network as most of the regular bus lines and marshrutkas from the north-west periphery of Tbilisi as well as regional buses from Western Georgia have the first contact point to Tbilisi’s metro system there.
A concept including 6 scenarios was developed for redesigning Didube Station. These scenarios included measures to reorganize local & regional bus stops, ensure a smooth traffic flow and improve the comfort in public space. Two of these scenarios were subject of a detailed impact assessment using a simulation framework which includes a multimodal traffic simulation in PTV VISSIM and AIT’s pedestrian simulation framework. The results of the study will support the replanning of Didube with its comprehensive investigation of traffic and crowd flows.
Multi modal transport data collection via smartphone app based tool
AIT’s smart survey, a smartphone app based tool, has been adapted to match the local circumstances in Tbilisi. In March and April there was a test survey with AIT staff and four local participants, followed by further adaptations on the survey tool. From end of May to August 2017 the evaluation survey with about hundred participants was conducted. The results of this survey reveal more detailed information than conventional survey as AIT’s smart survey automatically detects the transport mode used and offers the possibility to capture short trips, walking parts and transits between other transport modes. As the proof-of-concept was successful, the tool is ready for further use (e.g. in an extensive survey or as part of the next household survey). For a full roll-out it is recommended to build up local technical assistance for the participants in order to guarantee a smooth roll-out and high-quality dataset.
Capacity building and further linkages
AIT defined a three-level approach to tackle short, medium and long-term opportunities for creating a Knowledge Hub for Sustainable Transport:
Training on Open Source GIS tool QGIS: The team at Municipal Services Development Agency (MSDA) was trained by AIT in using QGIS to provide an alternative to the commercial tool ArcGIS. This training has efficiently supported the strategy of MSDA to increase the use of open source GIS throughout Tbilisi City Hall.
Cooperation at University level: A joint urban planning and design course by the Technical University of Georgia and the Vienna University of Technology was held in fall 2017 with a focus on the multimodal hub Didube. Based on a review of the results from this joint endeavor, the partners will decide on a pathway to best access international (e.g. European Union (EU)) or national academic and research funds for further cooperation.
Cooperation at City Administration level: Vienna’s urban agencies stated high interest in a collaboration with Tbilisi, although it became clear that further discussions and additional preparation time are required in order to move forward with a twinning contract.
The work done by AIT together with the Tbilisi Bus Network Improvement and Pilot Surface Transit System Pre-Feasibility study and the Metro Rehabilitation project (both supported by CDIA) will strongly contribute to a multimodal transport and sustainable urban mobility in Tbilisi, supporting its goal to be a leader in the region and becoming a smart, future-ready city.
All the work within this project was done in close cooperation the Asian Development Bank, Tbilisi Municipality, the Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA), the Future Cities Program and its associated TA’s, especially the Promoting Smart Systems in ADB’s Future Cities Program (RETA-9170), the Piloting Future Cities Future Women Initiative (RETA 8797) and the Unlocking Innovation for Development (RETA-9017) as well as overall within ADB’s Sustainable Urban Transport Investment Program (SUTIP).
S. Seer, G. Lenz: "Integrated Urban Mobility Systems"; presentation at 10th Local Economic Development Forum, Tbilisi (Georgia); 13.-14.09.2017
G. Lenz: "Knowledge Capacity Development - Urban Transport in Tbilisi"; presentation at Georgian Technical University Lecture Series, Tbilisi (Georgia); 24.03.2017
 Asian Development Bank: Establishing the Future Cities Program in the Asia and Pacific Region, Project Number: 49053-001, Technical Assistance Report, December 2015 (https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/project-document/178245/49053-001-tar.pdf)
 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Divison, http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/database/index.shtml