Tehran Is PLEASED WITH Its Congestion Charge

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Tehran Is PLEASED WITH Its Congestion Charge

For readers in the United States who advocate congestion pricing, pointing out Tehran as a working example is not going to fill you with enthusiasm probably. Yet it is true, Tehran does have what it calls a Limited Traffic Zone, which is essentially a large area charging zone around downtown Tehran that motorists must purchase a permit to access or travel within. Details of the Tehran system are available at its own website in English, with YouTube videos (2 in Persian, 1 in English below).

It replaces a manual “restricted traffic zone” that involved paper permits, enforced by Police inspections of vehicles, somewhat akin to Singapore’s original Area Licensing Scheme. Emergency vehicles, buses, public taxis, and diplomatic vehicles have permits automatically. Commercial vehicles pay more, including vehicles registered to companies. Government vehicles pay as well.

174). In other words, regular users get a considerable discount if the pay in advance. The full hours of operation were not explicit on the website, but it alludes to counting vehicles between 0630 and 1700, which would seem logical, but is unclear if certain days are uncharged (e.g. Fridays and Saturdays being the weekend). Most curiously, the system has copied the London congestion charging signage, which should be a compliment to Transport for London.

Using the “C” logo was hardly mandatory for the Islamic Republic of Iran, but it clearly was thought of as being valuable. The YouTube video in English below is, more are available in Persian on TehranTraffic’s channel. Overall, I say good on Tehran for taking the initiative to implement a form of pricing.

Certainly the breakdown of vehicle classes seems very complex when you see the price schedule, and the annual passes appear like a major discount on quite a punitive charge schedule. However, Tehran’s traffic IS chronically bad, and whilst money has been poured into a metro and upgrading public transport, getting the roads to move at all is the greatest challenge. What I’d like to see is whether any work has been done on the results to determine how successful the system is, in conditions of reducing traffic and what net revenue is generated.

I would have thought there could be potential to take it further, having annual passes only for certain public vehicles, and leave the rest to weekly passes to incentivise changes in behavior. In addition, there may be benefits in targeting certain crossing points at different times, although this complicates enforcement and charging, using number plates alone especially.

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Still, it would appear that one of the greatest challenges – having a reliable number plate database for owners and their addresses, has not been a barrier to Tehran. I suspect that more authoritarian governments have the incentive to get this right, although its complexity and scope for human error are enormous.

What this proves is that developing countries can implement congestion charging and do it well rather. This appears to be more advanced than Dubai’s rather abysmal Salek system, in terms of its potential to create positive impacts on transport. However, it shouldn’t be neglected that Tehran had been running a permit-based system for downtown since 1979, what this system has done is to update it for the 21st century.

But it was a fabulous hike. Beautiful, full of fall leaves and rocks and a wonderful canyon we immediately went off the trail to climb down and use as our personal playground for an hour. We jumped over rocks, used trees as balance beams, and had a great time generally. That’s a victory right there.

We pressed, following the blue dots sporadically painted on trees. I’m really just walking in the woods of an 8400-acre park and the blue dots could be in a totally different direction and then, victory! It’s like they knew juuuust how long to stretch it before you’d really start to doubt yourself and turn around.