Second phase of Tehran’s LEZ scheme comes into force

October 23, 2018

TEHRAN – The second phase of low emission zone (LEZ) scheme aiming at reducing traffic emissions, went into effect on Tuesday running for 24 hours a day, head of the national working group for reducing air pollution has announced.

LEZ is a defined area where access by certain polluting vehicles is restricted or deterred with the aim of improving the air quality. This may favor vehicles such as hybrid electric vehicles, or zero-emission vehicles such as all-electric vehicles.

To bring LEZ scheme into effect all the vehicles in Tehran are required to get inspection stickers indicating the level of emission they produce which are easy to track down by the traffic cameras thanks to the newly integrated vehicle inspection system.

First phase of the scheme was set up in Tehran on September 5, 2016, aiming to mitigate air pollution in the metropolis, which was running from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day except for holidays, ISNA quoted Vahid Hosseini as saying.

The scheme replaced the odd-even number license plate scheme (where depending on the weekday the cars with only odd or even number plate were allowed to drive) in a zone stretching over 80 kilometers of the central Tehran, he added.

The inspection certificate is a label, which all vehicles must carry at any time or places, he said, adding, so limiting the inspection certificate to a small area of the city or limited hours does not make sense.

The main advantage of the first phase of the scheme was mandating the inspection certificate for the first time in the country and imposing fines on vehicles not undergoing an annual quality inspection, which must have been come into force in [the Iranian calendar year of] 1353 (March 1974- March 1975), he further explained.

He went on to note that before the obligatory vehicle inspection scheme was implemented, police officers would randomly check on drivers to see whether or not they had the needed documents only in case of spotting any violations, including, driving an unsafe speed, running in the wrong lane or passing the red light.

Tracking inspection labels through traffic cameras is surely a positive step taken by the implementation of the scheme, which has led to a dramatic rise in the number of drivers referring to vehicle inspection centers, last year (March 2017- March 2018), Hosseini stated.

Due to the implantation of the scheme, over a year, 300,000 vehicles have been rejected to receive an inspection certificate and were forced to eliminate emission producing, he also added.

In the first phase of the scheme, a number of cars have entered the zone outside the designated hours (8 p.m. to 5 a.m.). Also, diesel-powered vehicles were not subject to inspection certificate check, as these vehicles are not essentially running in the traffic zone, or mostly moving during the night.

Therefore, in the second phase of the LEZ, the inspection certificate is obligatory for the whole vehicles moving through each area of the capital, running for 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. 

The law must have been implemented over the past 40 years, while the Municipality now has decided to expand the scheme which has been successful to some extent on its first phase.

Currently, only vehicles that display an up-to-date sticker are allowed to enter the zone, he highlighted.

While new cars under four years of age are exempted from the vehicle inspection law, through the second phase of LEZ, a suggestion for new car owners was proposed by the Municipality, which offers the cars with premium vehicle inspection certificates a 20 percent discount on permit license for authorizing them to enter the zone all year round.
The experience on implementing LEZ in the world demonstrates that the scheme will have a positive impact on the reduction of air pollution in the long run, while it cannot have a tangible effect in the short run, he noted. 

Countries succeeded in solving the air pollution problem have certainly been rigorous in enforcing air pollution abatement rules and vehicle inspections, he noted, explaining, “in our country, over the past five years, the inspection certificates have been taken into consideration implementing within a specific time and area (first phase), and now it gets mandatory for all vehicles during the whole days (second phase) and must be done more intransigent.”

Policies similar to LEZ, do not eradicate pollutants suddenly, however in the long run, will drive out polluting cars from the consumption cycle and results in the improvement of air quality, he concluded.

World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that Tehran is one of the most air polluted cities in the world. Tehran is ranked 12th among 26 megacities in terms of ambient PM10 levels. After Cairo, Tehran is the most polluted non-Asian megacity. In 2016, the annual ambient level of PM10 was estimated at 77 micrograms per cubic meter. This is almost four times the WHO’s recommended threshold of 20 micrograms per cubic meter.

According to a report by World Bank published in April 2018 there are about 4.24 million vehicles in Tehran. Cars are the largest vehicle type, with a total fleet of 3.37 million, or 80 percent of all vehicles. The second largest category, in terms of sheer numbers, are motorcycles, amounting to a total of 0.76 million, or 18 percent of total vehicles. The smallest category is heavy-duty vehicles, with a total of 0.1 million vehicles, or about 2 percent of total vehicles in the streets of Tehran.

Even though cars are the most abundant and the most congestion-causing vehicle type on the streets of the capital, they only contribute about 3 percent of the city’s mobile PM pollution. Similarly, despite motorcycles being the most pollution intensive vehicle per passenger, they only contribute to about 12 percent of the total mobile PM emissions. In turn, heavy-duty vehicles contribute about 85 percent to mobile PM emissions. Amongst heavy-duty vehicles, private sector buses (35 percent), followed by Tehran municipal buses (28 percent), and trucks (28 percent), contribute the largest shares to the pollution load. Heavy-duty vehicles mostly run on diesel, which has a much higher PM emissions factor than petroleum or natural gas.

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