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Yerevan’s Journey Toward Sustainable Mobility

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“Before the new CNG buses, I avoided public transport, opting for taxis instead,” said Armen Kantar, a daily commuter in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. “Since their introduction, I’ve noticed a remarkable difference. They are clean and spacious, and even crowded journeys are surprisingly comfortable. I rarely take taxis now.”

Armen represents a growing number of commuters who have embraced public transport following the enhancements undertaken by the Yerevan Municipality (YM) in recent years.

In July 2020, YM took a pivotal step toward revolutionizing its urban transport system when ADB-CDIA greenlit its application for a project preparation study (PPS) on the Yerevan Sustainable Urban Transport Implementation Project (SUTIP).

The advisory support culminated in a comprehensive set of recommendations, ranging from establishing a unified transport authority to designing an integrated bus network, adopting an integrated ticketing system, and establishing an air quality (AQ) monitoring system, among others.

Four years later, a monitoring team from ADB-CDIA visited Yerevan to assess how YM had implemented the measures and found that they had achieved key milestones on the city’s journey to sustainable mobility.

In particular, the key elements of the urban transport strategy developed with technical support from ADB-CDIA, such as priority bus lanes, bus fleet renewal, and AQ monitoring have been gradually adopted. However, the establishment of a unified transport authority envisaged in the PPS to streamline all transport-related functions is still pending but remains a top priority for the municipality.

With funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 87 new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses have been procured with plans underway to acquire an additional 250 12-meter electric buses.

“We’re lucky to see these modern buses, providing unparalleled comfort and convenience,” remarked Adelina, Ariana, and Raya, three elderly individuals whom the ADB-CDIA team encountered while trying out the new CNG buses. “With designated seating for older individuals and a lowering system, the experience is remarkable for seniors like us.”

In terms of the priority bus lane, a pilot route based on CDIA’s preliminary design is now operational while expansion plans for seven other routes are in the works. In terms of pilot city bus interchanges and bus route network optimization, the preliminary designs are being prepared for implementation, awaiting the availability of the new electric buses.

In addition, a smart fare collection and ticketing system is now available in the CNG buses and trolleybuses, aiming to have a fully automated ticketing system this year.

“The GPS technology in the new buses has made tracking the arrival and departure times possible, offering passengers peace of mind,” said Armine Avanesyan. “Integrated into the mobile transport app, it has also simplified ticketing and payment. As a parent, this feature enables me to monitor my daughter’s journeys and ensure her safe arrival to her destination.”

Meanwhile, five low-cost AQ sensors are now generating real-time data; with the United Nations Development Programme expected to set up two automatic AQ monitoring systems. In parallel, YM is developing the air quality improvement plan for the city.

The monitoring visit underscored a sense of optimism among city officials, bus commuters, and other stakeholders interviewed by the ADB-CDIA team on the integrated public transport network. They expect that the ongoing reforms will improve bus service reliability, reduce travel time, increase revenues and efficiency due to the automated fare systems, and mitigate climate change through the modal shift and the adoption of electric buses.

Despite the progress, stakeholders identified several bottlenecks that derailed project implementation. For instance, the recent political leadership changes at YM led to a minor realignment of priorities, while issues in site acquisition for the bus depot and delays in the procurement of electric buses have affected the project timeline.

Looking ahead, YM is committed to overcoming these obstacles and advancing its sustainable mobility agenda. Among its key plans include implementing the E-mobility Program in collaboration with ADB and the Green Climate Fund.

In gist, Yerevan’s journey toward sustainable mobility is characterized by significant strides, collaborative efforts, and unwavering commitment to addressing the challenges along the way, highlighting the city’s determination to reach a greener, improved quality of life for its residents.

 

Photos:

CNG buses

Bus Priority

Smart Ticketing

Air Quality Monitoring

Meeting with stakeholders and beneficiaries

 

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