EghtesadOnline: Providing people with decent public transportation services is of high importance worldwide and there is much room for improvement in Iranian cities.
Plans are on track in cities like Ahvaz, Karaj and Tehran for the expansion of subway networks, YJC reported.
The halted subway project in Ahvaz, a less-developed city in terms of urban transportation system in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, has received 5 trillion rials ($2 million) from the Plan and Budget Organization.
According to Mojtaba Yousefi, the city’s representative in parliament, with the growing road traffic, especially in the central parts of the city, the need for an urban subway system is being felt more than before.
“Metro can alleviate traffic congestion in the main thoroughfares of the city and reduce the society’s carbon footprint from the environment,” he said.
In the past few years, small, sporadic investments have done almost nothing to push ahead the metro project in the city.
“Therefore, a feasible set of policy should be designed by Ahvaz Municipality and relevant officials to invest the earmarked budget into the unfinished subway project,” he said.
Ahvaz subway was first mapped over a decade ago. When completed, the system will have four lines, stretching 88 kilometers around the city with 87 stations.
Line 1 of Ahvaz Metro’s construction, started in 2009, was expected to become partly operational in 2018. However, the project is still pending.
Urban managers in Karaj, the provincial center of Alborz, are optimistic about the completion of the city’s subway project, as Alborz Governor General Azizollah Shahbazi told reporters that the city’s Line 2 will become partly operational by the end of the current fiscal year (March 2021).
“The main reason behind the delay in completion of the line has been budget deficiency,” he said.
Underlining the government’s allocation of participatory bonds worth 3 trillion rials ($12.3 million) for the development of Karaj Subway in the current year, Shahbazi hoped that state financial support can expedite the process.
Earlier in March, Karaj Mayor Ali Kamalizadeh told the local media that the construction of tunnels is advancing rapidly.
Karaj Subway was launched in 2006. A 102-km network of five lines, which will be connected to Tehran-Karaj Subway, has been planned.
The project is funded through several sources, including revenues from Karaj Municipality, government budget and sale of bonds.
Metro Development in Tehran
In the capital city of Tehran, officials are working to expand the metro network to new areas.
Last week, Manaf Hashemi, Tehran Municipality’s deputy for traffic and transportation affairs, met officials from Khatam-al Anbiya Construction Headquarters to discuss the construction of subway Line 10 in Tehran’s District 22.
Khatam-al Anbiya is an Iranian engineering arm of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
According to Hashemi, details of the Line 10 construction project were reviewed during the meeting.
“Work will begin as soon as a deal is forged with Khatam,” he added.
When completed, Line 10 will stretch 43 kilometers from far west (Vardavard satellite city) to the northeast of the capital (Qanat Kosar neighborhood), crossing District 22 with 35 stations.
Tehran’s District 22 spans over 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.
Officials believe that in addition to developing the urban transport fleet in the region, the establishment of a subway line to ease road traffic will be necessary.
Tehran’s subway network stretches over 220 kilometers and comprises seven lines (1 to 7) with nearly 120 stations.
TM officials are planning new subway lines while, according to the head of Tehran City Council’s Transportation Commission, the unfinished subway network in the city of Tehran needs 2 quadrillion rials ($8.21 billion) for the construction of unfinished lines, purchase of train cars and standardization of equipment.
Mohammad Alikhani added that due to the negative effects of US sanctions since the summer of 2018, Iran’s rial is losing value against hard currencies, making it a tough task to expand and renew the ailing public transportation in Tehran.
Since the US reimposed sanctions against Iran in 2018, the rial has lost 70% of its value against the greenback over the past year. On Monday, the US dollar was traded at 243,500 rials in Tehran while it hardly fetched 42,000 rials in March 2018.
“A train wagon cost 50 billion rials a couple of years ago, but now the price reaches 200 billion rials, which Tehran Municipality cannot afford at present,” he added.
The TCC official suggested Transit-Oriented Development could be the only way to alleviate current problems related to urban transportation.
TOD is a development model that maximizes the amount of residential, business and leisure space within walking distance of public transport. It promotes a symbiotic relationship between urban density and public transport use.
Speaking to reporters, Mohsen Hashemi, the head of TCC, expressed disquiet over Tehran Subway shortfalls and said, “While the subway lines have been extended around the city by 80 kilometers in the past several years, not enough trains have been added to the metro network.”
Hashemi noted that for each kilometer of the subway, there was 1.1 train wagons.
“Today, the figure has fallen by 30%, which means that for each kilometer of operating subway line, there is 0.8 train cars,” he said.