Issue 6, 2011. December-January



The city of Tbilisi, together with the Asian Development Bank (ABD), is investing heavily in improving public transportation in Tbilisi, including English language signs and maps.

Maia Edilashvili

Like all densely populated cities, Tbilisi is plagued with traffic jams, pollution and out-dated public transportation.

"Tbilisi lies on a fairly complex landscape in terms of urban development," Giorgi Kiziria, ADB Country Coordinator in Georgia told in an email.

"The capital's long shape, two rivers - Mtkvari and Vere, and various hills and mountains, while contributing to the uniqueness and glamour of the capital, create obstacles to urban transport development and require very creative and at times costly transport solutions."

In 2010, ADB approved a $300 million loan to help the city develop the Transport Master-Plan for Tbilisi. The financial assistance also includes creating a roadmap for further transport related interventions by the government and interested donors including ADB.

Over the course of the eight year program, specific projects like the new tunnel on Gorgasali Avenue, to ease traffic to Abanotubani, will be built. There are also plans to extend the subway on the Saburtalo line by two kilometers on Vazha Pshavela and to build a new bridge over the Mtkvari River.

Funds from the city budget are also being used. Over the past year, Tbilisi City Hall has built additional roads and pedestrian crossings to help ease transportation in the city. However the lack of English-language signs and maps remains a problem.

It is "very difficult" [to get the right directions] if you don't read Georgian, Maria Jose Riquelme del Valle, a journalist from Spain comments.

"I think bus stops need maps so people know where they are going and it would be wonderful if there could be a website [with a timetable] to know travel options," she says after spending several months in Tbilisi.

A program to provide English translations for public transportation is already underway, noted the press service of the Tbilisi City Hall.

Signs have already been installed in select metro stations and more are planned.

In addition, station names are announced in English on the subway trains.

Electronic signs with English translations have also been installed on major roads in central Tbilisi with more signs planned for 2012, according to the press service.

This year Tbilisi Municipality has also installed 100 bi-lingual boards throughout Tbilisi to show directions in the city and there are plans for bi-lingual maps and bus routes.