Riyadh has expanded 500 times over the past 70 years and is today spread today over 1,000 square kilometers. The city already boasts 6.7 million people, and the population is expected to reach 8.3 million by 2030. Its streets currently witness more than 9 million car trips per day, causing congestion, pollution and reduced mobility that threaten to choke Riyadh’s economic growth. The development of a comprehensive public transportation system is therefore paramount.
The Riyadh Public Transit Network Project constitutes the backbone of the capital’s future public transport system. With six lines totaling 176 kilometers and 85 metro stations, the Riyadh Metro network will cover most of the densely populated areas, public facilities, and government, educational, commercial and medical institutions. It will also serve King Khalid International Airport, King Abdullah Financial District, Riyadh’s main universities and the downtown area. Moreover, 25 park and ride facilities are being built across the city to encourage people to use the metro instead of their car.
Trains will be driverless, using the latest technologies, and will be carefully monitored by five operation control centers. Metro stations are designed according to a unified architectural pattern, giving the project a unique look and feel. Intended to provide passengers with safety and comfort, all stations will be air-conditioned, equipped with passenger information systems and free internet access. Some selected stations will also include shops and car parks. Finally, environmental impact has also been taken into consideration: the system will make use of solar cell technology, to save about 20 percent of the power required for air-conditioning and lighting.
Construction of Riyadh Metro began in October 2013, with the start of operations expected at the end of 2019.