EghtesadOnline: Cheap fuel prices in Iran, costing less than 10% of the global average, are the main reason for the popularity of road transportation, which is responsible for the excessively high number of road accidents and casualties, as well as rising air pollution, the minister of roads and urban development said.
“At present, we have some 20 million vehicles on our roads, which stretch over 250,000 kilometers across the country. About 1.2 million vehicles are added every year and within the next 30 years, there will be 30 million automobiles on the roads. We need smart roads to be able to manage this load of traffic,” Abbas Akhoundi was also quoted as saying by ILNA.
The official noted that 1.7 billion road trips are made in Iran annually, 700,000 of which pertain to suburban transportation.
Akhoundi added that about 30% of road casualties occur within the radius of 30 kilometers from the outskirts of cities, according to Financial Tribune.
“The renovation of dilapidated fleet is directly correlated with fuel price,” he said. “Since it is cheap, owners of these vehicles are reluctant to upgrade their gas guzzlers.”
Davoud Keshavarzian, a deputy roads minister, said increasing fuel prices can have a positive effect on fleet renovation and road safety, but this is against the government’s anti-inflation policies, therefore it has not materialized.
Akhoundi believes transportation in Iran needs to focus on railroads.
“The Iranian government has placed expansion of Iran’s rail network on top of its agenda to facilitate transportation, conserve hydrocarbon fuel and reduce air pollution,” he said.
Iran’s Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22) has tasked the government with increasing the share of rail in cargo and passenger transportation from the current 12% and 8% to a minimum of 30% and 20% respectively by the end of the plan.
“To arrive at this goal, some $28 billion worth of investments are needed,” Akhoundi said, adding that expansion of rail transportation will help save fuel, reduce pollution and increase transport safety.