EghtesadOnline: As projected in the draft budget of the fiscal 2020-21, the government has earmarked 26 trillion rials ($180.5 million) for streamlining public transportation development in Isfahan.
According to Isfahan City Council Chairman Alireza Nasr, growing traffic congestion, dilapidated bus and taxi fleet, unfinished urban subway system and the worsening air pollution in megacities have long been a serious cause of concern among the people, environmentalists and climate activists, Financial Tribune reported.
Officials in charge are also concerned and trying to roll out remedial measures.
“Twenty-six trillion rials have been earmarked in the next budget for curbing air pollution and implementing public transportation projects in Isfahan," IMNA quoted Nasr as saying.
Of the total amount, he said 12.5 billion rials ($86,800) are to be spent for the completion of Isfahan Subway Line 2, 50 billion rials ($347,222) for feasibility studies and establishing the infrastructures for tramway lines, 1 trillion rials ($6.94 million) for buying new buses, 230 billion rials ($1.59 million) for implementing traffic rules and air pollution reduction schemes, and the rest is to be spent on other urban construction projects that are supposed to be eco-friendly.
Nasr said fortunately, no urban project has been halted in Isfahan due to a lack of funds.
"Currently, seven major projects are underway in the city, which will be soon completed," he said.
In addition to the budget allocated to Isfahan Municipality in the current fiscal year (ending March 19), which amounted to 45 trillion rials ($312.5 million), the municipality issued bonds worth 7 trillion rials ($48.6 million) in two rounds.
In the first round, bonds worth 5 trillion rials ($34.7 million) were sold in March 2019 to fund the second phase of Line 2 of its urban railroad.
In the second round, it sold 2 trillion rials ($13.8 million) worth of bonds in late June 2019 to fund its bus rapid transit network.
Public Transportation in Isfahan
Of the total 900 buses operating in Isfahan’s public transport fleet, 10% are highly dilapidated.
Isfahan Mayor Qodratollah Norouzi believes public transportation is neither sufficient nor efficient for 2.2 million citizens of the city.
"We are planning to add 35 new buses for bus rapid transit lines and 20 buses for the urban lines. In addition, 30 CNG buses, which are currently out of service due to technical problems, will be repaired to rejoin the fleet,” he said.
However, he noted that the main challenge is that sanctions have limited Iran's international relations, making it difficult to import vehicles.
Following the reimposition of US sanctions against the country last summer, Iran's rial lost almost 70% of its value against the greenback and ties between Iranian automotive companies and international auto parts suppliers were disrupted.
Almost all partners of local auto manufacturers have suspended their Iran operations, leading to a sharp fall in domestic output.
"Notwithstanding all the hardships, we are doing our best to manage the situation," Norouzi said.
Commenting on the city’s subway system, Norouzi said work is underway to develop clean modes of transportation.
The construction of tunnels for Line 2 of Isfahan’s subway network has progressed by 22% and will be completed within a year.
Line 2 project was initiated in 2017 with a total budget of 120 trillion rials ($833 million).
Alireza Salavati, managing director of Transportation and Traffic Organization of Isfahan Municipality, told reporters, “The construction of Isfahan Metro’s Line 1 took 15 years. However, the expansion project has been streamlined and will be completed by 2021.”
Isfahan’s Line 2 will have 22 stations and extend over 24 kilometers from Khomeini-Shahr in the west to Zeinabiyeh Street in the northeast.
Isfahan's subway map includes a total of three lines (1, 2 and 3), of which only the first one is operational.
The 20-kilometer Line 1 links the city’s north to the south with 20 stations. With a multi-phase construction process, the line became fully operational in 2017.
Two stations of Line 1 intersect with lines 2 and 3, which are still under construction.
Line 3, which will be the shortest, is to cover the southwestern part of the city, with seven stations along an 8.8-kilometer tunnel.
According to Isfahan Metro Company, the operating line transports 70,000 passengers daily and the figure is expected to reach 100,000 by the beginning of the school year in September.