Tehran traffic ...

… so i am back from Iran after having spend the last two days in Tehran. it is pretty much difficult to make sense of Teheran in 4 days, which is probably due to the sheer size of the place. there are about 14 million people living in the metropolitan area of Tehran and one would guess that at most 5 of them are working as city planners. On the other hand every second inhabitant has at least one car (either a pre-historic Paykan or a grey Peugeot 206) which, during rush hour, is too much for the extensive highway system to absorb.

The metropolis of Tehran enjoys a huge network of highways (280 km) and of interchanges, ramps & loops (180km). In 2007 there were 130 kilometers of highways and 120 kilometers of ramps and loops under construction. [source: wikipedia]

Highways or not, during rush hour it takes at least 90 minutes to get from the southern end of the city center to the northern end of the city center. unfortunately public transport does not really offer a viable alternative

In 2001 a metro system that had been in planning since the 1970s opened the first two of seven envisaged lines. Work has been slow and coverage remains very limited. Development of the Tehran metro system had been interrupted by the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War. Problems arising from the late completion of the metro led to buses taking on the role of the metro lines, serving mainly long distance routes. Taxis filled the void for local journeys. The taxis only drive on main avenues, and only within the local area, so it may be necessary to take several taxis to get to one’s final destination. [source: wikipedia]

The only for of transport that will get you from A to B fairly efficiently (and cheaply, a cross town ride is less than €1) are motorcycle taxis. They are a bit difficult to spot (as they are just regular motorcycles cruising the streets) but once you have managed to spot them they make the city much more accessible. Of course it helps to have a bit of a death-whish (the driver has a helmet and you don’t and they will go pretty fast on stretches of highway where the traffic is relatively light) but then it is actually really good fun…

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