Tehran Mayor Denies Rent-a-Seat Scheme for City Buses

By Azadeh Karimi

The Mayor of Tehran Pirouz Hanachi has denied reports of a rent-a-seat scheme to be rolled out on limited bus routes in the city later this month.

“There is no truth to reports about a scheme which offers seats for rent on Tehran city buses,” Mayor Hanachi tweeted on December 6. “I have ordered the deputy mayor for traffic and transport to stop any plans that would worry and stress people.”

[aesop_image img=”https://kayhanlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2010-12-23T120000Z_179140825_GM1E6CN1MYT01_RTRMADP_3_IRAN-POLITICS-SUBSIDIES-scaled.jpg” panorama=”off” credit=”FILE PHOTO: An Iranian man looks on as he sits on a bus in Tehran. REUTERS./” align=”center” lightbox=”off” captionsrc=”custom” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

Mr. Hanachi’s tweet was in response to an announcement by the director of the United Bus Company of Tehran Peyman Sanandaji on the rollout of a demand-responsive transit (DRT) flexible service, which would allow passengers to rent seats on certain bus routes in Tehran during peak travel times.

“There is no conclusive data on the correlation between the recent fuel price hike and an increasing number of people using buses,” Mr. Sanandaji said in an interview with the semi-official Fars News Agency earlier this month. “We are studying the situation. DRT, which is a flexible transport service plan, could be one of the more practical solutions to the problem of overcrowded buses.”

“For instance, the bus route for Vanak Square [north Tehran] is hectic during rush hour, but those buses are virtually empty during the off-peak period,” Sanandaji explained. “So we can rent out seats on a bus during the two-hour peak travel time. Under the scheme, a passenger can rent a seat, for instance, from 07:00 to 07:10.”

“We plan to roll out the scheme later this month,” Sanandaji added. “These seats cost more than regular ones. The number of reservations will give us a better idea about customer demand for every bus route. We will then be able to assign the right number of buses to each route. The scheme will also help us streamline our operations.”

“We will roll out the pilot scheme on two of the city’s busiest northbound Niyaneh–Jannatabad and Vanak-Azadi bus lines,” Sanandaji noted. “Passengers can book their tickets online.”

If implemented, the scheme might discriminate against the working classes and the underprivileged, who cannot afford to buy more expensive bus tickets.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]