YEREVAN—Yerevan’s subway network extension project has entered the preliminary stage. Mayor Hayk Marutyan’s office says upgrading the city’s single metro line north toward the Davitashen neighborhood will significantly reduce the traffic burden on Yerevan’s roads.
According to Yerevan chief architect Artur Meschyan, the first phase of the project will include the construction of a new subway station in the Ajapnyak district, across the Hrazdan river from the current terminal of Barekamutyun. The station would be integrated into a new multi-use retail and business complex. Planners estimate that the construction timetable and cost for the first station will be reasonable since the Soviet-era tunnel and bridge are already in place.
The source of funding for the project is not yet clear. The mayor’s office hinted that the expansion take the form of a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), as proposals have already been submitted to private investors. According to Meschyan, the municipality has also approached the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to help fund some of the planned public transport infrastructure overhauls. Matteo Patrone, EBRD’s Managing Director for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus pledged the bank’s readiness to offer financial, technical and logistical assistance during a meeting with Marutyan earlier this month.
Digging began on the Metropolitan’s first tunnel in 1972. At the time, the Soviet City Engineering Planning Department had issued guidelines which restricted subway networks to cities with more than one million residents. Yerevan’s metro received the official moniker “Rapid Tramway Network” until construction was completed. The Yerevan Metro became the eighth of its sort in the Soviet Union when it officially began operations in 1981 with four operational stations on the line. Another five stations would be built before the Shirak Earthquake and the collapse of the USSR would freeze the project indefinitely. An additional line with only one station was completed in 1996.
The Metro network received its first major overhaul in 2012 with the assistance of the EBRD. Tunnels were upgraded, metro cars were renovated, and new logistical equipment was installed.
But in the years following independence, ridership decreased significantly as privately-operated minibus (Martshroutka) lines overlapped with the Metro. This trend, however, has reversed in recent years as the city’s congested road arteries have encouraged commuters to see the metro as a quick, clean and affordable transit alternative.
The metro’s rerouting toward Davitashen is expected to significantly relieve strain on major roadways like Komitas, Baghramyan, Kievyan and Halabyan boulevards, which transport hundreds of thousands of commuters downtown each day. Davitashen in particular has seen a population boom in recent years as many young families take advantage of preferential mortgages offered for housing in that neighborhood.
Last year, Armen Gularyan the deputy chairman of Armenia’s Urban Development Committee discussed the possibility of constructing another subway station on the already existing line. This proposed stop, between the Sasuntsi David and Zoravar Andranik stations would offer direct access to the Surmalu and Petak shopping malls. It’s unclear whether this proposal will be included in the new metro extension plan.
Meschyan has also announced the re-construction of a cable-car network connecting Kentron (the city-center) with the Nork-Marash and Nor-Nork neighborhoods perched atop the hills surrounding Yerevan. These communities were previously connected by a Soviet-era cable-car which was scrapped following a fatal crash in 2004. Currently, only the two-lane Armenakyan street runs down the steep hill to the city center. This road is frequently blocked by snowfall or ice in the winter.
The city is also expecting a shipment of Chinese-made municipal buses, which will replace most of the aging marshroutkas on the roads. These had been ordered by the previous administration as part of a new public transit plan drafted by the British consulting firm WYG International Limited. The plan, which was submitted for review in 2017 would take an estimated $100 million to implement while keeping fares unchanged. The incoming Marutyan administration has delayed its implementation by several months, citing the need for further studies on bike lanes and street parking.