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EghtesadOnline: Covid-19 concerns in public vehicles, decrepit transport fleet and increasing air pollution in Tehran have made it necessary to upgrade and expand the city's public transportation fleet.

In a recent compensatory measure, Tehran Municipality purchased 175 buses from domestic automaker, Iran Khodro Company, Tasnim News Agency reported.

During the last few years, city managers have used local capacities to repair transportation fleets, or procure new vehicles from domestic producers. However, imports are too expensive due to strict US sanctions against Iran and the fall in the value of rial against the greenback.

Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani said, "The supplier has committed to delivering 100 buses by the end of October and the remaining 75 units will be ready a month later."

The buses, he claims, are CNG-hybrids that meet Euro 4 standards.

Aside from the addition of new vehicles, Zakani stated that 500 CNG buses that are currently inoperable due to faulty gas tanks and other technical issues are being repaired to resume services.

"The fundamental overhaul of another 500 dilapidated buses will also be completed by the end of the current fiscal year [March 2022] to increase the capital’s public transportation capacity," he added.

The Tehran mayor noted that the city’s transportation fleet requires 7,000 new, high-quality buses to deliver adequate mobility services to the public.

He added that 50% of the buses operating in Tehran’s fleet, numbering 3,500, are dilapidated and in dire need of repair or replacement.

 

 

Subway Development

Outlining the latest plans for the expansion of Tehran’s subway network, Zakani explained that the government has promised to finance the purchase of 1,050 wagons in the near future.

“Based on these talks, 630 wagons will be supplied by foreign companies and 420 will be ordered from domestic producers,” he said.

“The foreign purchase plan dates back to early 2018, when a Chinese rail company and Tehran Wagon Manufacturing Company won the tender to build and supply 630 cars to Tehran's subway.”

The mayor, however, blamed mismanagement and financial issues for halting the measures until today.

Acknowledging the subway sector's localization efforts, Zakani said, "With the help of local knowledge-based companies, a large portion of a complete subway train can be produced locally."

In related development, Ali Emam, the head of Tehran Metro Company, had earlier declared that the government is committed to supplying 2,000 train cars for Tehran Metro during the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22).

“The trains were to be assembled with 55% of domestically-made parts. Fortunately, with the support of technology ecosystem, the domestic production capacity has risen remarkably in the past few years, gradually making Tehran’s subway self-sufficient and sanction-proof,” he said.

 

 

Locally-Made Wagons

In August 2020, Iranian knowledge-based companies and tech firms unveiled a largely localized subway wagon to alleviate the country’s dependency on foreign resources for subway development plans.

According to tech officials, the plan for expanding domestic producers’ share in subway development was launched a decade ago and their efforts have finally paid off.

“We could have bought eight-wagon trains for over €20 million, but the localization project saves up to €12 million for each train,” Sorena Sattari the former vice president for science and technology, had said earlier.

He stressed that Tehran Metro needs 1,500 wagons, the production of which will boost urban transportation capacity by 6 million people. 

 

 

Tough Economic Times 

In view of economic hardships facing Iran due to the reimposition of US sanctions, the renovation of transportation fleet is facing difficulties.

The price of new passenger vehicles has seen a threefold jump, just like any other commodity.

After the twice-impeached US president, Donald Trump, reneged on Iran’s nuclear accord and reimposed sanctions against Tehran in the summer of 2018, the Iranian rial lost almost 70% of its value over the past year.

On Saturday, the US dollar traded at 273,000 rials in Tehran while it hardly fetched 42,000 rials in March 2018.

Following the 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 and the timely allocation of funds will help yield the desired result.

 

Tehran TM Plans