Algeria’s grand ambition: Mobility
The rapid economic transformation of cities across North Africa has led to an increase in urban rail projects. In the capital city of Algiers, metro and tram systems were introduced in 2011. To keep pace with new development challenges, the metro will be extended to include 34 kilometres of track and 34 stations by 2022.
The challenge facing Algiers
Algiers is the biggest city in French-speaking North Africa, with a population of 7 million. Faced with demographic and geographic challenges, the city needs to find innovative solutions to enhance urban transport.
Flanked by the Mediterranean Sea to the east and a 400-metre-high hill range to the south, Algiers has only been able to develop in two directions.
The city underwent rapid, uncontrolled development up until the eighties, led by a population explosion.
Today Algiers is the scene of heavy, non-stop traffic and daily bottlenecks. The car continues to be residents’ preferred means of travel. Thanks to the country’s oil resources, the price of petrol is extremely low, at about 22 euro cents per litre. The cost of motor transport is roughly the same as that of public transport. As a result, downtown Algiers is clogged with cars – far too many than the streets can handle. The network was designed to accommodate 40,000 vehicles, but eight times as many vehicles – i.e. over 300,000 cars – are on the road.
A focus on intermodal transport
With the help of the Paris public transport authority (RATP), local operators have developed their expertise.
Algiers is undergoing a transit revolution that is transforming the lives of its inhabitants. Eighteen kilometres of metro track have been in operation since 2011 and 200,000 people use the underground every day.
Three extension projects are currently being carried out in the direction of the airport, the upper part of the city and the south-eastern suburbs.
Rail lies at the heart of the Algiers public transit system. The metro serves communities in the most densely populated areas, while the tramway connects districts that are farthest from the centre.
More and more young professionals are using mass transit. Although car ownership continues to be a symbol of middle class success, attitudes are beginning to change.
Young urbanites are happy to stop wasting their time in traffic. They are more willing to leave their car at home during the week and use it only on the weekend. Sharing a ride or taking a cab to the tram station are becoming popular options.
For the time being, Les Fusillés is the only metro stop with connections to the tram and bus. However, another transport hub is scheduled to open in 2022.
A ticket for the Algiers metro costs 50 dinars (approximately 40 euro cents). Under a partnership agreement, the different transport operators offer a monthly pass that is valid for all modes of transport.
For 2,500 dinars per month (about 18 euros), users have unlimited access to the bus, metro, tram and cable car. A single price tram‑metro ticket is also available.
Africa’s high-speed development
Ridership on the Algiers metro is rising steadily. The number of annual passengers currently totals 29 million.
In Morocco, where urban growth trends are similar to those in Algeria, two tramway systems were rolled out in 2011 and 2012, one in Rabat and one in Casablanca.
In the near future, the urban transit revolution is set to spread to countries like Senegal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire, which have all announced ambitious projects.