The Tbilisi Metro (Georgian: თბილისის მეტროპოლიტენი, Tbilisis Metropoliteni) is a rapid transit Metro system in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Opened on December 11, 1966 it became the fourth Metro system in the former Soviet Union. Like most ex-Soviet Metros, most of the stations are very deep and vividly decorated.
Lines and stations
1 Akhmeteli-Varketili Line
2 Saburtalo Line
3 Rustaveli-Vazisubani Line
Presently the system consists of two lines, 22 stations on 26.4 kilometres of track. 20 stations are below ground and two are surface level. Of the subterranean stations 16 are deep level and 4 shallow. The former comprise 6 pylon stations, 5 column and 5 single vaults (built to the Leningrad Technology). The shallow stations consist of three pillar-trispans and one single vault (Kharkov Technology). Due to Tbilisi's uneven landscape, the metro, particularly the Gldani-Varketili line, in two cases goes above ground.
In 2005 it was estimated that a total of 105.6 million people used the Metro annually. Carrying them are a fleet of 186 metro cars from two depots. Although the platforms are accommodated for five-carriage trains currently four and three carriage trains are used on lines 1 and 2 respectively. The car models are identical to those of other ex-Soviet Metros. The cost per token is 40 tetris, and remains valid for the whole duration. Trains run from 6:00 a.m. till 12:00 a.m. with intervals ranging between 2.5 minutes in peak times to 12 minutes late at night. Trains run between 60 km/h - 90 km/h.
Tbilisi (officially known as Tiflis until 1936), capital of Georgia, was always considered to be the fourth most important city of the Soviet Union, particularly of its political position as being the capital of the republic (Georgian SSR). Also the city grew quite rapidly during the nineteenth and twentieth century and apart from being a cultural centre and a political one was also an important transport hub in Transcaucasia and an industrial centre as well. All this amounted to the need of a rapid transit Metro system.
Construction began in 1952. Tbilisi was the only city of the former USSR where the construction of the Metro system started before the total of the residents crossed one million. Having a population over one million was one of the main criteria for building a metro-system in the Soviet cities. On 11 January 1966, the Tbilisi Metro was triumphantly opened becoming the first and only Metro system in Georgia and the fourth one in the former Soviet Union (after Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Kiev), when the first six stations were opened. Since then, the system has steadily grown to a two line 22 station network.
During the 1990s, most of the Soviet-era station names were changed, although the financial difficulties since the breakup of the Soviet Union hit the Metro particularly hard in its infrastructure, operations and extensions. In the early-mid 1990s the Tbilisi metro was usually not working due to the lack of electricity. Until recently, the Metro had been underfunded and operated in severe difficulties due to poor electrical supply. It had also become infamous for widespread petty crime, like pickpocketing and mugging. In addition, there have been several incidents at metro stations in recent years. On October 9, 1997, a former policeman blew himself up at Didube station. On February 14, 2000, a teenager threw a homemade hand grenade into a metro station, injuring several people. In March 2004, several people were poisoned by an unidentified gas while using the Metro.
However, the crime has reduced as a result of security and administration reforms in the system from 2004 to 2005. Other services have also significantly improved.
Currently, the Tbilisi Metro system is undergoing a major rehabilitation effort, including the reconstruction of the stations as well as modernization of trains and other facilities. The city's 2006 budget allocated 16 million lari for this project. President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, promised to make the Metro most prestigious public transport and charged Director General of Tbilisi Metro, Zurab Kikalishvili, in late 2005, to bring the metro to European standards by 2007. In subsequent years, however, the upgrade process has slowed significantly and as of July 2010, the Tbilisi metro rail is still far from its target standard.
The system has also an advanced extension plan, with a third line, amongst other locations, encompass the district of Vake. Forming a typical Soviet triangle with three-line six radii layout intersecting in the city centre. However, most of the construction sites remain frozen, some dating to Soviet times.
In January 2012 construction will start on a frozen extension of the Saburtalo Line from the Vazha-Pshavela station to the new Universiteti station, 80% of work is already done in soviet time, it is financed by the Asian Development Bank. It is expected that the new station will be opened in early 2013.
There are also plans to construct a tram network in Tbilisi.
Isani Metro Station
Avlabari Metro Station
Isani Metro Station
Tsereteli Metro Station
Freedom Square Metro Station
Rustaveli Metro Station