Time to Fix Tehran’s Ailing Public Transport
EghtesadOnline: Tehran's urban transportation infrastructure is in dire need of expansion to meet growing demand, chairman of Tehran City Council said.
Addressing urban managers on Sunday, Mohsen Hashemi underlined the deficiencies of the public transport fleet and said the Tehran subway requires 1,000 new cars to be able to provide decent transportation subway service, ISNA reported.
Studies show that 200 trillion rials ($1.6 billion) is required for upgrading Tehran’s subway infrastructure, Hashemi said, urging the government to come up with the necessary funds, according to Financial Tribune.
He said Tehran metro has 1,000 cars, 30% of which need to be upgraded. "The slightest disruption in one of the trains can disrupt the schedule of other trains."
This is while with the completion of unfinished lines in the subway system, a whole lot of trains would be added to the network, he added.
Hashemi called on Tehran Mayor Pirouz Hanachi to speed up the expansion of the subway system.
The capital's subway stretches over 220 kilometers and comprises seven lines (Lines 1 to 7) with nearly 120 stations. Lines 6 and 7 are yet to become fully operational.
The TCC chief said, "Experts are of the opinion that around 19,000 intercity and urban buses are required to boost the nation’s public transportation system, of which 5,000 are needed for Tehran alone."
Highlighting shortcomings of the urban bus fleet, he said the number of operating buses hardly reaches 6,000. This is half the number required for acceptable transportation.
Average age of the bus fleet is over 11 years, such that 50% of the buses plying the streets in Tehran are dilapidated and should have been assigned to the scrap-yard long back.
“The buses are old and have numerous technical flaws that cause inconvenience to passengers. They also contribute terribly to the air pollution.”
Tehran bus fleet reports 300 breakdown cases every day and the high frequency of technical failures is alarming, the senior urban official was quoted as saying.
Pointing to rationing and raising gasoline prices on Nov. 15, Hashemi said the public transportation fleet saw 20% increase in passengers in the past ten days.
As per the new regulations, private car owners can buy 60 liters of subsidized gasoline every month with a fuel card for 15,000 rials (12.1 cents) per liter, up 50%. Additional purchases (maximum 250 liters a month) will cost 30,000 rials (24.3 cents) per liter -- up 200%.
The growing population and demand for public transport in the city that has expanded in all four directions demands urban authorities rise to the occasion and come up workable solutions for the ailing public transport system.
Hashemi said that the government's Economic Council and other relevant bodies have presented several directives to streamline and develop the public transport network, especially in major urban areas but to no avail.
Besides restrictions piling up due to US economic sanctions, the bloated bureaucracy plus lack of harmony among executive bodies have hampered the smooth implementation of the few solutions that are available, he lamented.
Repair Works Underway
The municipality and Tehran Bus Company intend to sign an agreement with a domestic bus manufacturer for repairing and upgrading the old buses.
Peiman Sanandaji, head of TBC, told the media that if there is an agreement, funding in the form of cheap loans amounting to 2 billion rials ($16,200) will be given to the drivers of dilapidated buses to have their vehicles repaired by the bus manufacturer.
Since the beginning of the current fiscal year (March 21) 100 buses have been repaired and the engines, along with cooling and heating systems, have been upgraded.
In mid-June, 13 buses and 117 minibuses produced by domestic automakers, such as Iran Khodro, Bahman Khodro and Sabalan Khodro, were added to the public transportation fleet in the capital that is home to almost 10 million people.
TM has started restoring 500 dilapidated buses that have outlived their usefulness.
“Inefficient public transportation is one of the worst problems afflicting Tehran residents. Addressing the issue is high on the TM agenda,” Mayor Hanachi has been quoted as saying.
While some positive are being taken, they have not been very effective because of the number of dilapidated buses in Tehran keeps on growing.
In early July, TM signed an agreement with Omid Entrepreneurship Fund to release 12.5 trillion rials ($101 million) in cheap loans for the expansion of the public transportation system.
OEF and TM also discussed solutions for overhauling the inefficient public transportation system, including repairs and replacement of taxis, minibuses, buses and vans.
The agreement envisage replacing smog-inducing motorcycles with electric bikes, promoting biking facilities and providing vehicles with pollution absorbents and high-quality catalysts converters, as well as upgrading air quality monitoring equipment and devices.