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Tehran Traffic Scheme to Go Ahead Despite Disapprovals

Tehran's mayor is to initiate his bold road traffic scheme as of April 4, despite objections and criticisms
Tehran Traffic Scheme to Go Ahead Despite DisapprovalsTehran Traffic Scheme to Go Ahead Despite Disapprovals
The system of selling permits for car entry in restricted areas is to be replaced by a tax system

The new road traffic scheme presented by Tehran Municipality is set to take effect early in the new Iranian year (to start March 21), despite ambiguities and lack of infrastructure.

Four months into his mayorship, Mohammad Ali Najafi has prepared a new traffic scheme that aims to address Tehran's chronic road congestions and heavy smog.

"Tehran needs a revolution. A scheme that is being implemented for nearly 40 years with no one daring to reform it is not acceptable," he said, while addressing a session of Tehran City Council on Monday, the Persian daily Hamshahri reported.

The scheme, to come into force on April 4, has been criticized by several groups, including the traffic police. Mohammad Reza Mehmandar, Tehran's traffic police chief, has complained about its unclear procedures.

"In view of the short time remaining, it is likely that the scheme will not be implemented," he said.

Abolfazl Qana'ati, a former city councilor, also noted that the infrastructure for smart monitoring of cars has not been developed in Tehran and the scheme might create numerous problems.

This is while Mohsen Pourseyyed-Aqaei, deputy for transport and traffic at the municipality, said all infrastructures for the scheme have been prepared.

Qana'ati also complained that insufficient feasibility studies were conducted before finalizing the scheme.

"One cannot within three months change a plan that has been in practice for 37 years. This means that precise studies have not been conducted," he said.

Mohammad Alikhani, a city councilor, has also called on the municipality to consider the policies of Tehran City Council and the High Council for Traffic before implementing the scheme.

In spite of all expressions of disapproval, the designers continue to support it, maintaining that the scheme has been executed in Singapore, Stockholm, Milan, London and Oslo, and yielded favorable results.    

  Details of the Scheme

The new scheme aims to abolish the issuance of free or discounted entry permits to institutes located in the restricted zones and charge all vehicles equally based on several factors, including the time of commuting and the cars' pollution standards.

In the new scheme, the current restricted zone is to be renamed as the "Green Zone" and the area where cars are allowed on alternate days based on their odd-even plate numbers is to be called the "Blue Zone". Other areas will be referred to as "White Zone".

The system of selling permits for entry is to be replaced by a tax system. Residents will have to pay variable amounts of tax for entry into the green and blue zones, the income of which is to be spent totally on the development of public transport.

Car owners will be given user accounts and the tax will be automatically withdrawn from the account upon entry into the zones.

Cameras will record the plate number and the time of commuting, and the tax will be calculated based on the defined formulas.

The tax rates need to gain the approval of Tehran City Council, but the proposed prices for the Green Zone range from 100,000 to 360,000 rials ($2.3-8.3) and 30,000 to 120,000 rials ($0.6-2.7) for the Blue Zone.

Najafi claimed that the charges of entering the zones will also eventually decrease with appropriate time management.

Currently, daily permits are sold for 198,000 to 410,000 rials ($4.6-9.3), depending on the time of the day.

The restrictions are enforced from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, except Thursdays, Fridays and public holidays. Those who live inside the restricted zones have until 8:30 a.m. to exit the zone.

Vehicles with premium technical inspection certificates can enjoy a 20% discount. It is not clarified, however, how a car can gain a premium certificate. Hybrid cars are entitled to a 90% discount.

The scheme is expected to reduce the heavy traffic during the morning and evening rush hours, as studies have shown that 40% of the journeys across Tehran are not time-bound.

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