EghtesadOnline: A new scheme for curbing traffic and air pollution in the central parts of Tehran has been planned, the director of Tehran Municipality’s Transport and Traffic Organization says.
Mohsen Pourseyyyed Aqaei also told ISNA, “The new scheme named Air Pollution Control will replace the odd-even rule on June 22, which was introduced in 2005.”
APC was proposed by Tehran Transportation Council, after a protracted debate among environmentalists and urban planners about the odd-even rule that has been in place for more than a decade.
According to experts, the old scheme has failed to deliver, Financial Tribune reported.
As per the odd-even rule, cars can enter the designated “restricted zone” on alternate days, depending on the odd and even number of the license plate.
Spread over 88.5 square kilometers in central Tehran, the zone is bounded by Imam Ali Expressway in the east, Navvab Expressway and Chamran Highway to the west, Besat Expressway in the south and Hemmat Expressway in the north.
Saturday is earmarked for cars with the last even digit and Friday, being the weekend, is free for all cars.
Aqaei said that as per the scheme, the geographical boundary of the area will remain unchanged, but each vehicle can enter the restricted zone for free for a maximum 20 days each season (three months), or 80 days a year.
If motorists wish to enter the zone more than the number of times mentioned in the plan, they need to pay a toll. The fee has not been announced yet, but it will reportedly be lower than 180,000 rials ($1.5) per entry.
Cars arriving in Tehran from provinces and not registered in the capital will be permitted to enter the zone for free on 15 days each season. Many people living in Alborz Province, 30 km west of Tehran, come to the capital every day for work and education. This shows that the scheme has apparently overlooked the needs of such people.
Aqaei noted that all motorists need to create an account on My.Tehran.ir, TM’s specialized website for urban transportation and e-services. People can pay the fees and check how many days they can enter the restricted zone for free on the website.
Tehran Urban Research and Planning Center, in collaboration with centers of higher education, carried out extensive studies on the effectiveness (or lack of it) of the odd-even scheme to determine what can and should be done to curb the omnipresent air pollution and traffic congestion in the city of 9 million people, the TM official said.
Results of the studies have been culled to devise the APC scheme that is backed by Tehran Municipality, Traffic Police, Interior Ministry and Tehran Governorate.
A survey indicated that car owners whose license plates ended with an odd number drove in the restricted zone for 39 days each season, while motorists whose number plates ended with an even number plied in the zone for a much lower number of times (26 days).
In addition to the odd-even rule, two other initiatives have been implemented in the capital to help curb the smog and ease the pervasive traffic congestions.
Tehran Municipality had launched the Air Pollution Reduction scheme last November to help improve air quality. Based on the plan, old and dilapidated vehicles were banned in the city and violators received a fine.
APR compelled many car owners to have their vehicles checked or face consequences. All two- four-wheelers are required to undergo mandatory inspections and receive technical papers that confirm the vehicles are roadworthy.
Another so-called “Traffic Scheme” in central Tehran was enforced in an area limited by Motahari Street in the north, Shariati Street in east, Kargar (west) and Shoosh (south) where cars, except public transportation vehicles, are barred from entering the area between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Entering the zone costs up to 414,000 rials ($3) for privately- owned vehicles.
The implementation of APC will not affect both APR and Traffic Scheme.
Odd-Even Scheme Downside
Earlier, Aqaei detailed the downside of the odd-even scheme.
“A short time after its introduction, the odd-even scheme helped curb air pollution. However, as time passed, the scheme simply lost its usefulness and even gave rise to undesirable results. Pollution and smog have intensified.”
Aqaei said the scheme will be discussed in detail at the High Council for Coordination of Urban Traffic and could be revoked by March.
Tehran Municipality has reviewed the scheme in detail and its impact on air quality for the past several months.
“Results show that mismanagement and the improper implementation of the odd-even scheme had an adverse effect on air quality. The odd-even rule was initially planned to be a temporary measure to curb air pollution only during a crisis period,” he said.
Director of Tehran Air Quality Control Company Hossein Shahidzadeh said, “According to the latest studies and for all practical purposes, the odd-even scheme has failed.”