[By Shawhin] One of the reasons I decided to become a civil engineer was to learn about ways to reduce pollution in Tehran. The pollution in Tehran is such that schools are shut down for some days a year.
I think infrastructure related solutions fall in two categories: 1. cleaner vehicles and, 2. less congestion. There are efforts going by the government to address option 1 – cleaner vehicles – through car trading programs, etc. How effective this is and to what extent it is being implemented, I’m curious to know and would invite feedback. Option 2 – less congestion – however, is more interesting to me.
Reducing congestion comprises:
- providing/enhancing alternatives to driving,
- managing/reducing population concentration,
- implementing policies that limit where and when people can drive (a tough one),
- making sure your city is planned around pedestrians and not cars (which I think Tehran is good at… to some extent),
- … others?
Tehran is working on addressing the first bullet through the relatively new metro system (http://www.tehranmetro.com/farsi/index.asp and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tehran_Metro) and an established bus transit system. The metro system operates near capacity in some locations and has plans for expansion. And there is an extensive bus network with exclusive bus lanes in some areas. I’d have to find some good statistics before I can say much about how well the buses are doing. Aside from metro and buses, large cities around the world also use light rail (i.e. street cars). Light rail is nice because it is clean technology and you can either share the road with cars or make the track exclusive to the street cars, making the most of travel time. On the flip side, there’s a lot of construction and planning involved in implementing a light rail system. Similar to light rail is monorail – which Tehran has explored (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tehran_Monorail). Personally, in Tehran – an old and historic city – I think monorail will be out of place and contribute to an old cities confused self image. Light rail on the other hand can be classic looking and even fit in well with an old town. After all before cars took over the streets, we had trolleys and cable cars.
Kholaaseh, alternatives to driving are ways to counter pollution and traffic congestion, but perhaps for Tehran it is more important to avoid the issue altogether by better managing and reducing population in the big city…