EghtesadOnline: Tehran Bus Company and the Industries Ministry have reached an agreement to restore 1,000 dilapidated urban buses under a long-term scheme.
Mahmoud Tarfa, the head of TBC, told reporters that the plan, which initially targets 100 privately-owned buses in the capital, will be implemented as soon as the financial details are determined.
Underlining the cost of the plan, Tarfa said the complete restoration of each single-deck bus requires 4 billion rials ($15,200) and that of a double-deck bus costs 7 billion rials ($26,700).
The scheme also envisages the restoration of an additional 1,000 buses in other Iranian metropolises, he added.
Stressing that only 40 buses were overhauled during the last Iranian year (ended March 19, 2020), the official noted that to compensate for the slow pace of restoration plans and the sluggish addition of new vehicles to the transportation fleet, TBC is making a complementary effort.
Tarfa said whenever funds become available, the company repairs and reuses age-old buses that have been phased out of the fleet in recent years.
“The Interior Ministry has emphasized that the number of buses operating in the metropolis should not decrease, since considering the dense population in the city, it would cause serious disruption in the commutation of a large number of citizens,” he said.
Streamlining the ailing public transportation in all Iranian metropolises has become a point of concern for the government and urban managers, compelling them to take action.
The Plan and Budget Organization has started a joint move with mayors of 68 cities and Omid Entrepreneurship Fund to overhaul 5,000 dilapidated urban buses nationwide.
Based on a deal signed in mid-November, the fund will pay cheap loans worth 2.24 billion rials ($8,550) to bus owners. The loans will be offered with a 4% interest rate and a repayment period of five years.
The remaining expenses are to be covered by municipalities and owners. Further details will be announced by the authorities later.
“Of the total number of buses covered by the scheme, 1,700 will be revamped from the capital city of Tehran and Isfahan, 1,600 from Karaj, Ahvaz and Kermanshah, and the rest from other cities,” Hamid Pour-Mohammadi, a PBO deputy, said.
“The restoration scheme is to improve public transportation services in metropolises, increase the employment rate in the sector, improve ventilation systems that benefit passengers, especially during the Covid-19 outbreak, help curb the suffocating air pollution, increase the efficiency of fuel consumption and boost transportation safety.”
History of Plans
Last year in July, TM signed an agreement with Omid Entrepreneurship Fund to allocate 12.5 trillion rials ($47.7 million) in cheap loans for the expansion of the capital’s public transportation system.
Replacing smog-inducing motorcycles with electric bikes, expanding biking facilities, providing vehicles with pollution absorbents and high-quality catalyst converters and upgrading air quality monitoring equipment were also on the TM agenda.
Additionally, in mid-June 2019, 13 buses and 117 minibuses produced by domestic automakers, such as Iran Khodro, Bahman Khodro and Sabalan Khodro, were inducted to upgrade the aging public transportation network of Tehran.
Last summer, TM announced that it started restoring 500 dilapidated buses that have outlived their usefulness.
“Inefficient public transportation fleet is one of the worst problems afflicting the residents of Tehran. Addressing the issue is high on the municipality’s agenda,” Tehran Mayor Pirouz Hanachi said at the time.
While such positive measures are gaining momentum, they seem to be ineffective because of the growing number of dilapidated buses plying the streets of Tehran.
According to Tehran Bus Company, 6,500 buses are operating in the transportation fleet of Tehran, more than half of which are dilapidated. This is while the capital needs at least 9,000 buses to offer decent transportation services to the public.
In view of the economic hardships facing Iran due to the reimposition of US sanctions, the renovation of transportation fleet has become difficult.
The price of new passenger vehicles and eco-friendly motorcycles has seen a threefold jump, just like any other commodity.
After US President Donald Trump reneged on Iran’s nuclear accord and reimposed sanctions against Tehran last summer, the Iranian rial lost almost 70% of its value over the past year.
On Saturday, the US dollar was traded at 262,000 rials in Tehran while it hardly fetched 42,000 rials in March 2018.
Following the reimposition of sanctions, many foreign suppliers of vehicles and parts suspended collaboration with Iranian firms. The country cannot afford to import new buses in large numbers and local manufacturers do not have an adequate volume of parts to boost production.
These factors have derailed schemes for overhauling the transportation fleet. However, with the help of the government and automakers, urban planners are devising solutions to implement these schemes.
The commitment of officials concerned and the timely allocation of funds will ensure these efforts yield the desired result.