Driving can be frustrating. Very, very, very frustrating. However, what most of us forget is that there is an actual public transport system in place, with buses and “services” covering most of Beirut and other parts of the country.
This bus map misses out some other buses:
Dora – Bteghrine/Baskenta: You can take a direct bus from Dora, which passes through Elissar, Bikfaya, Bteghrine with some buses reaching Baskenta.
Dora – Mrouj/Dhour Chouweir/Bekfaya: Also departing from Dora, this bus reaches the Upper Maten area.
Beirut – Tripoli: You’ll see these buses speeding down the motorway. They are great if you need to get to Tripoli, or simply have a short journey along the motorway such as from Dora to Antelias as it’ll get you there in a jiffy.
However, this bus system is far from perfect. As a daily bus and service user, I have put together these top tips from personal experience to make sure your journey is as easy as possible! After all, kicking back and relaxing till you reach your destination is a hundred times better than your blood pressure shooting up from all the honking and the traffic.
1. If you can get a fast bus for half the way, do it. For example, if you’re taking the Bikfaya bus from Dora, don’t. From Dora to Antelias it’ll take you around 30 mins as he’ll drive slowly, so jump on a Tripoli or Jbeil bus to Antelias and then board the Bikfaya bus. These routes are known to be really fast.
2. Try and sit near the front. The buses get packed really quickly so try and sit near the front to avoid being squished and having to awkwardly manoeuvre to the front to depart.
3. Don’t get a van. Personally, they make me really claustrophobic. Aside from that, being stuck to sweaty strangers all around you isn’t fun. Most of the vans have a big bus version, so I’d wait that extra 10 minutes.
4. Pay in change Is it only me that finds it super awkward giving a bus driver a 10 or 20? Make sure you have change on you to pay, particularly since the journey itself won’t cost more than 2,000 l.l.
You should also bear in mind that the privately owned buses (which are most of them now unfortunately) drive purposely slow to ensure more passengers get on, so you will need to either get used to it and bring a book with you to enjoy, or use a service instead.
1. Stand on the correct side of the road Make sure you stand in the direction that the car will go in, as it’s highly unlikely he’ll take you as he’d have to turn around which probably means getting stuck in unnecessary traffic.
2. If you’re going a little far, look for the service which is empty. Usually the ones packed are staying are the area and it’s rare they’ll be going a distance, although there’s no harm in asking – only the sweet caress of disappointment. The empty ones are usually more willing to go since they aren’t committed to any other passengers.
3. Offer “servicen” If you’re desperate, or want to make sure he will take you that far distance, offer “servicen” which means you pay 4,000 l.l. instead of 2,000 l.l.
4. It’s not an uber. These aren’t cheap door to door taxis. Ask for a service to the area, not the specific road and walk that extra two minutes. It’s good for you, I promise!
5. It won’t go too far. Unfortunately, they won’t go everywhere so try to stick to within Beirut or closely around. From there, you’ll find other services or buses which will take you to your final destination.
All in all, the system is seriously flawed but it exists. I use it every day and once you get used to it, it really isn’t that bad! Public transport will also cost less than your daily parking in Beirut.
On another note, can we pretty please get our trains back?