EghtesadOnline: Providing decent public transportation services has always been a major concern of urban managers.
Now that the draft budget bill for the fiscal 2020-21 has determined the financial resources for municipalities, officials are devising plans to streamline the ailing transport services in megacities like Tehran and Shiraz, Financial Tribune reported.
On Tuesday, Mohsen Hashemi, chairman of Tehran City Council, said the budget bill for the next fiscal year (starting March 20) has allocated 50 trillion rials ($370 million) to Tehran Municipality, 34 trillion ($251.8) of which will be spent on public transportation networks, ISNA reported.
Due to economic constraints and the prevailing stagflation, urban development projects are expected to cost TM 43% higher in the fiscal 2020-21 compared to the current year’s budget.
"TM is negotiating with the council and higher authorities for a 25% increase in budget," Hashemi said.
According to reports, urban managers in the capital are to primarily focus on expanding the unfinished subway network in the coming year.
The capital's subway stretches over 220 kilometers and comprises seven lines (1 to 7) with nearly 120 stations. Lines 6 and 7 are yet to become fully operational.
Hamed Mazaherian, a TM senior official, said, "The construction of lines 6 and 7 will respectively get 8 and 5 trillion rials [$59.2 million and $37 million]."
In an ambitious initiative to provide Tehran’s residents with adequate and decent transportation services, TM has mapped four additional lines for the capital city’s subway in collaboration with a French engineering and consulting group, and the Iranian engineering group Gueno.
The new lines (8 to 11) have been designed to cover areas not covered by the Tehran Metro network.
Mazaherian added that the implementation of metro’s Line 10 project will start in the coming year.
Line 10 will stretch over 41 kilometers along the northern part of Tehran and partly cross District 22.
As it is mapped, the line starts from Vardavard Station on Tehran-Karaj Line 5 and travels across the northern part of the city with 34 stations, before reaching northeast to Qanat-e Kosar.
Tehran’s District 22 covers around 5,500 hectares in the western part of the capital and includes residential, recreational and tourism facilities.
"As urban development increases in the area, traffic congestion will definitely grow. So, in addition to developing the urban transport fleet in the region, the establishment of a subway line to ease road traffic is necessary," he said.
TM officials say the subway network has expanded significantly in recent years and about four million people are currently using the trains daily. The figure is expected to surge by a massive 25% after subway lines 6 and 7 are up and running.
But this is definitely not adequate for Tehran where, according to statistics, over 15 million people commute daily, many from the surrounding cities and towns.
Transportation Plans in Shiraz
The next year's budget bill earmarks 10 trillion rials ($74 million) for public transportation in Shiraz, the provincial center of Fars.
According to Saeed Nazari, a member of Shiraz City Council, the money is 34% of the total amount specified for urban development in the city.
Nazari said the municipality's resources for the coming year will be 43 trillion rials ($318.5 million), which is 33% more compared to that of the current year.
Public transport fleet in Shiraz comprises buses, taxis and subway, among which subway development requires greater attention.
Planners have designed six lines for the Fars provincial capital to cover 90 kilometers. After Line 1 opened in 2014, an estimated 8 million commuters have used the trains annually. The line stretches over 24.5 km with 20 stations.
The construction of Line 1 started in 2001 and its first phase became operational in late 2014.
The 20-km-long Line 2 is under construction and will have 20 stations and intersect Line 1 at Imam Hussein Square. The line will connect the Mian Rood area, south of the city to the Tomb of Sa’di (the celebrated Persian poet) on the northern flank of Shiraz.
Plans for the construction of the 10-km-long Line 3 with seven stations are under review. This line will connect Shiraz Train Station in the city center. Designing and mapping of routes for lines 4, 5 and 6 will start in the near future.
The government is committed to upgrade the dilapidated and polluting urban bus fleet in all Iranian cities and earmarked 50 trillion rials ($367 million) in the draft budget for this purpose.
According to Mehdi Jamalinejad, the head of Iran's Municipalities and Village Administrators, 30 trillion rials ($220 million) have been taken into account in the next budget for the purchase of new buses and 20 trillion rials ($147 million) for the renovation of dilapidated vehicles.
Jamalinejad said 79% of public transport vehicles should be consigned to the scrap yard.
According to official reports, the number of new public vehicles added to the transport fleet in the past decade is negligible.
Over 22,000 urban and 20,000 intercity buses ply the roads, which need to multiply soon if the government really intends to cut its exorbitant medical costs arising from toxic air and do its fair share in cutting Iran’s carbon footprint.