Public Transport Redevelopment in Yerevan, Armenia ? Problem or Opportunity?

Public Transport Redevelopment in Yerevan, Armenia ? Problem or Opportunity?


M Sellin, Mott MacDonald, UK


This paper considers the public transport in Sofia and Yerevan, the extent of their development and the problems and opportunities they face in their respective political environments together with the development of redevelopment strategies.


"The public transport networks in Sofia and Yerevan are both emerging from former eastern political systems into the western world. This paper considers the history behind each network, how the current networks stand now, the problems and opportunities each faces and how a practical strategy for each can be developed that is acceptable for the political structure including the Mayor of each city.

Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and lies in Eastern Europe between the Balkans and the Black Sea. It was a communist state following WW2 until 1989 when it became a democracy. The public transport network is well developed with a large tramway network, a large trolleybus network and a large bus network. The first line of the metro has recently been extended cross city and there is also a large fleet of marshrutkas, a shared route taxi using 12-seater vehicles.

The infrastructure of the public transport network, especially vehicles, tracks and electrical overhead is in desperate need of renewal. With more metro being built, the money is not being spent on the surface network. The challenge is to develop the network using external funding together with advances in western ideas ? such the use of GPS tracking, introduction of smartcards replacing traditional ticketing, the introduction of passenger information and the development of integrated transport to meet western standards. This has to be done in the light of politicians who are nervous about change and who all have their own agenda but without the project having clear objectives.

Yerevan is the capital of Armenia, which lies in the Caucasus area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. It was until 1991 a Soviet Socialist Republic and part of the greater USSR ? as such it used Russian ideas and a planned economy, costs and language. Following the collapse of the USSR the transport network in Yerevan suffered from steep cost increases (such as fuel) in contrast to earned revenues which led to retractions to the network and a stoppage for some years of the entire surface network leaving just the metro running. This vacuum led to the creation of a large network of 3240 marshrutkas which has now led to severe competition with traditional surface modes and to congestion in the city centre ? the tramway network closed in early 2004, the ?big? bus network in 2005 and the trolleybuses have shrunk to just 5 routes. In addition, as no tickets are issued at all (cash paid on exit) fraud is widespread and information on the actual numbers of passengers carried is at best variable.

The project will develop an urban transport strategy to promote a sustainable, integrated, socially affordable, and cost-efficient urban transport system which may involve the use of Clean Development Mechanism credits to finance the renewal of the infrastructure of the metro and the trolleybuses. The project?s has to deliver a strategy and funding package that is both acceptable to the Mayor and that is practical and deliverable in Yerevan. However as no transport model (in western terms) exists this is difficult to determine.

The two cities are evolving in different ways from a cold war political tradition and are recognising that western ideas and western ways of working are essential if they are to modernise. It will not be easy and external money will be needed to renew the networks from years of under investment and competition from private modes. Both cities offer lessons that are different ? one being more European in nature and more mature in development and the other developing from a collapsed state following the ending of the USSR. Both cities have a primary network that has suffered from a lack of investment over many years and the sums of money required to bring them back to state of the art technology are huge.

This paper looks at possible options that face both cities for the future such as in Sofia the use of second hand tramcars, increasing vehicle speeds, replacing all the trolleybuses, introducing pre-metro operation or even tram train operation. In Yerevan the challenges are different but the solutions need to be more subtle such as the renewal of parts of the trolleybus network, the introduction of trolleybus and bus priority lane segregated from other traffic (including Marshrutkas), the introduction of a fares and ticketing system, passenger information and integration.

These are things we take for granted but in these locations people wonder why they are required at all."


Association for European Transport