Tehran and the Phenomenon of Traffic
A scene that has been repeated for several years at all the crossroads of the huge Iranian capital: behind the red lights, the impatient drivers of Tehran wait in a state of mind close to hysteria the passage to green that will allow them to dump once again, after a few seconds -very very long, it is true - the endless flow of cars on the wide roads of this city whose monstrous traffic jams are as well known as badly experienced by the inhabitants.
According to available statistics, each trip to Tehran is 40 minutes late compared to the average estimated time and with the fourteen million daily movements of Tehran, nearly 200 billion minutes per year are thus "lost". Much more important than this delay is the monstrous pollution that has loomed over Tehran for years now, sometimes forcing the authorities to ban traffic and close schools for a few days.
Very important factors related to the massive and unplanned urbanization of the city of Tehran are the origin of this traffic, and, paradoxically, we can say that the "apocalyptic" traffic jams of Tehran have become the symbol of the consequences of this unbridled urbanization. The massive immigration of 70% of the rural population towards the city induced a brutal transformation of the social fabric, whereas the urban layout could not follow this movement during the first two decades of migration. The rapid implementation of plans and programs, however, would have allowed some control of the situation, however, no planning in this area was put in place. On the one hand, the lack of officials and the underdevelopment of public infrastructure, and on the other hand, ignorance of the rules of conduct and rules of good citizenship caused the uncontrolled increase in the number of cars in circulation. This process has been all the more violent since the price of gas has always been the most insignificant in Iran. According to the figures of the National Company of Refinery and Distribution of Petroleum Products, the annual energy consumption in Iran is equivalent to 8.4 barrels of crude oil, which is twice the consumption of Egypt with a population of 75 million inhabitants; five times that of Indonesia with a population of 225 million, double the consumption of China with a 1311 million inhabitants, and four times that of India with a population of 1122 million inhabitants . In addition, the level of state subsidies for importing gasoline is higher than in any other country in the world, even in comparison with other OPEC member countries, which also provide heavy subsidies to this sector. . According to the figures, subsidies for the import of fuel comprise on average 3.27% of their GDP, whereas this figure is 0.60% for non-oil producing countries and the world average. oscillates at 0.90%. Among the OPEC producing countries, the subsidies reserved for the purchase of fuel amount to 5.36% of GDP in Iran, which is the highest figure among the producing countries. After Iran come Niger, Indonesia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
It means, the most important project to combat pollution and reduce traffic is the rationing of gasoline. Applied for seven months and despite the many protests it has caused, it has so far allowed savings equivalent to the price of 10% of all fuel imported annually.
According to world standards, every car needs 40 meters of track when traveling, taking into account safety distances. This while in Teheran every year, 400,000 new cars leave factories. Thus, more than three million cars circulate today only in Tehran, which represents a lack of nearly fifty million square meters of lanes for cars.
On the one hand, the indifference of city dwellers to the rules of conduct and even civicism and the profound negligence of those responsible for the development of public transport, the lack of which is felt strongly, has meant that 75% of Tehranese use their personal cars. in their daily business trips. In 2006, 14 million daily trips had been made to Tehran, of which barely 58% thanks to public transport, with 22% by buses, 20% by taxis, and 16% by all other public transport services ( subway, etc.).
In addition to the phenomenal slowness and the damage caused by these delays, Tehran's proverbial traffic jams are causing other social and psychological problems as a result of the pressure undergone by these endless expectations. Today, the problem of urban traffic in Tehran has taken so much space that it is no longer possible to postpone the adoption of drastic measures.
A few decades ago there were no bottlenecks in Tehran and this city only had the strange spectacle of old avenues lined with plane trees bordering the new roads. But for fifteen years, all roads in this capital are congested with cars making the spot and this situation has greatly contributed to the degradation of the urban living environment and overall quality of life.
However, it would be wrong to say that no decision has been made to avoid such a problem. However, the various plans were too often adopted urgently and did not reduce the size of the problem, even though the government's latest plan to ration gasoline suggests a slight change in the roadway landscape. the city.
Among the important decisions taken to remedy traffic jams, that of the development of highways and very wide roads, so much so that today Tehran is full of highways that roam the city in all directions. For newcomers, it is also interesting to understand that these highways have replaced the simple streets and it often takes a whole highway odyssey to reach the local grocery store. Other solutions have also been adopted, including the provision of special traffic bans for the city center (tarh-e traffic), or the plan that restricts the circulation of even or odd registered cars on even or odd days. in busy areas.
These solutions have all been implemented for some time with more or less success. But the oldest of these programs remains the development of expressways set up as part of the city's beautification program, which was followed by the traffic plan, still in force, which prohibits the entry of cars with no no special authorization in the perimeter of the city center. It should be noted that this plan has been in effect for almost 12 years. That said, these programs also had some inevitable social and economic repercussions.
For about two years, a new project, which could prove to be effective in the long term, has been applied with positive results as of now. This project consists of the broadcast of humorous short television clips that highlight the serious shortcomings of the Iranian drivers' code of conduct. Among the projects put in place, we can also mention that of teaching children from 5 to 8 years the code of conduct and to give them the task of distributing colored cards to drivers in order to inform them of their offenses. But that is not enough and all the media must contribute to the drivers' awareness of code compliance.
The lax conduct of the road and traffic police also played a significant role in the indifference to the code of conduct. But following some internal reforms in the police and the emergence of a new professional perspective, this laxity has decreased somewhat.
For the experts, the resolution of this problem requires the implementation of policies on two levels: the first consists of a fundamental reform and a deep improvement of the public transport system, the opening of public car parks and the development of transport networks urban; the second focuses on the development of the intelligent transport system (ITS). This second plan includes the intelligent management of road traffic through the use of information technology, ranging from basic management systems, such as fire management, car navigation, container management systems and radar, video surveillance and dynamic message boards.
Although this second component has recently been seriously taken into account by politicians, it must nevertheless be emphasized that basic infrastructure is not yet sufficiently developed in Iran, that is why priority is given to the construction of roads and especially , the urgent development of public transport.
That said, a simple study of the programs implemented to fight against congestion and traffic jams in major cities around the world clearly shows that the development of the network of urban roads and highways is not a reliable solution in the long term because On the one hand, heavy investments in time and money are needed, and on the other hand, with the growth of production in the automotive sector, the problem will remain the same in larger dimensions. Thus, the development of the public transport sector and the privatization of part of this sector is a response that has proven effective in several major world capitals.
These last two years have been, for the Body of the Control and the Regulation of Road Traffic, those of the investment in the field of the public transport, with the transfer of a part of the management of this domain to the private sector, the purchase of several thousand buses for the urban network, as well as the construction and purchase of subway cars and the delivery of several thousand new taxi licenses. That said, the importance of implementing very simple policies aimed solely at regulating and matching demand and benefits, possible through the use of new information technologies that would detect frequented, rush hour, etc., is not neglected. For this purpose, preparatory studies are being carried out and officials have already focused on the implementation of regulatory projects for public transport vehicles, such as the project for broadcasting timetables. thanks to the teletex or the digital panels in the bus stops. This would allow locals to waste a lot less time waiting for Tehran buses, which can be delayed by up to three quarters of an hour. These delays are caused by slow travel. Indeed, each bus travels at an average speed of 15 km / h, while the minimum acceptable is 27 km / h. The irony is that despite the extended mileage of Tehran's highways, the average speed of passenger cars is 27 km / h. Special traffic lanes should therefore be considered for public transport vehicles.
It is also interesting to note that since the inauguration of several fast bus routes, the BRTs, the pollution indices are decreasing in the regions where these lines are in service, to the extent that according to the results of the research, the The only Azadi-Tehranpars line allowed the reduction of exactly fifty thousand tons per day of toxic discharges.
The state of the urban rail network
Evoking public transport in Tehran is essentially talking about buses and taxis. Despite the existence of the metro capable of transporting several thousand people a month, they remain indispensable complements.
According to the CEO of Tehran's Traffic Regulatory Agency, the metro is a good option, but given the heavy investment in this sector, a French partner, Sysra, has been hired to continue prospecting. will have to last almost a year. In any case, the addition of twenty kilometers of rail is already planned. Another ongoing project aims to reduce existing distances between resorts and increase the prices of public car parks that would push people to use their personal cars less. The car parks are also one of the subjects of perpetual discontent of the Teheran. When, indeed, after endless minutes of waiting, we manage to pass the red light and approach the goal, the next test is to find a place to park. Indeed, according to statistics, a Tehran must travel more than two kilometers before finding a place.
In conclusion, all these projects can only be effective if they are applied together in a coherent and orderly way. Let's hope that the Teheran's wish to one day find peace in the peaceful mountain village that Tehran once was will be fulfilled one day.