Other serious challenges have emerged too, including the introduction of competitive minibus services and growing car ownership in Yerevan. The decline in the use of the metro has in turn caused overcrowding of the city’s roads and increased traffic and road safety problems.
For Yerevan, keeping the metro system, which serves over 1.9 million people a year, at the heart of the city’s life has become one of its highest priorities.
“This is an important project for Yerevan, which will be implemented with the government’s support and will improve significantly the quality of transport services in the city,” said Valery Harutyunyan, the President of the Board of Directors of Yerevan Metro company.
Since 2010 the EBRD, EIB and EU have contributed a total of €30 million for the improvements carried out in two phases. So far, completed investments include rehabilitation of the track and power supply systems, purchase of a maintenance trolley, upgrade of the depot and replacement of the water pumps removing ingress water from the tunnels.
A lot of this work has been happening behind the scenes, but the most visible to the passengers have been the newly modernised metro cars. The seriousness of the Soviet-era is long gone, replaced by a modern, sleek look.
The carriages are also safe to run, with services every five minutes at peak times and every eight minutes off-peak.
Anahit Hoyhannisyan is a regular metro user who very much appreciates the changes. “Before the metro used to be in an old condition and I didn’t use it that much,” he said. “But now, after the renovation, I try to use the metro when going somewhere.”
Yerevan’s metro is not just receiving new investment finance. Through separately funded technical cooperation project supported by donors including Austria, the Czech Republic, the EBRD Early Transition Countries Fund (ETC Fund)* and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund, the company has benefited from corporate development measures focused on institutional and managerial improvements; been able to address environmental, health and safety concerns; and gained sound project implementation experience in tendering and contract administration.
Given this generous support, Yerevan Metro Company is now managed more efficiently on a commercial basis and international standards of financial reporting are being applied.
The city of Yerevan and the EBRD are working towards developing sustainable urban services with mixed means transport. And for the people of Yerevan those plans seem to be just the ticket.
*Donors to the ETC Fund are: Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China and the United Kingdom.