How Much Does It Cost To Build A Metro In Saudi Arabia?

Alan Light, Flickr

If you live in a cosmopolitan city with a good subway system, it can be easy to take your public transportation for granted. Many of the world’s most famous subway systems have been around for decades, and most of us have forgotten the price and political willpower it took to put them in place.

Building a completely new metro or subway system nowadays isn’t only a longterm commitment, it’s a large financial one. Saudi Arabia is the latest place to jump on board the public transportation train. So how much does it cost to build a Saudi Arabian metro? $22 billion apparently. That’s the number attached to the new system proposed for the capital city of Riyadh. Construction will begin next year and trains should be running by 2019.The design alone is a major cost — one of the main stations will be done by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid — not to mention the construction and other expenses. But investing in infrastructure is smart, even in oil-rich countries of the Middle East. As the president of the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) Ibrahim bin Mohammed al Sultan said, the project will be “a major driver of employment and economic development.”

But how does the cost of the new metro system compare to others around the world? Two years ago Africa’s second metro opened up in Algiers, and came in at a final price of only $1.2 billion. But in the Western World, that doesn’t cover a whole lot. In Singapore, the new Circle Line which runs 22 miles, cost $4.8 billion. In New York City the Second Avenue subway line is projected at over $17 billion — and that’s just one line. Meanwhile in Paris, $39 billion is being spent to build 200 kilometers of new metro lines with 72 stations in and around Paris. How long does that take? The project should be finished by 2030. That makes 2019 seem like it’s just around the corner.