Transport in Iran is inexpensive because of the government’s subsidization of the price of gasoline.
Travelling by train is an inexpensive way to get around Iran and meet Iranians. Iran’s first line was the trans-Iranian railway, built in the 1930s to connect the Caspian Sea at Bandar-e Torkaman with the Persian Gulf at Bandar-e Imam Khomeini. Passing through mountains and passes, it is one of the great engineering achievements of the 20th century. First among them is the track between Esfahan and Shiraz. Tehran is the main hub and most services begin or end in the capital. There is at least one daily service to Mashhad, Esfahan, Tabriz, Bandar Abbas and Kerman. Trains usually depart on time, but departure and arrival times for stops en route are often in the middle of the night. For the latest routes and prices, see www.rajatrains.com.
Domestic bus travel in Iran is very popular and long-distance buses are surprisingly comfortable. Bus connections are frequent and reliable, with various levels of comfort available. Journeys can be lengthy, so it is good to board well prepared. Urban buses are usually segregated, with women sitting at the rear and men at the front. Men and women should not sit together on any bus. Water is served on all buses.
Taxis are available in all cities and usually come in the form of a private car. There are both private (“darbast”) and shared taxis, with the latter being cheaper. Drivers of shared taxis pick up as many people that they can along the way. To get on a shared taxi you need to stand beside the road and shout out your destination to the drivers who slow down for a few seconds. Private taxis can be hailed in the street or ordered through your hotel, and it is always best to agree on a price before embarking on your journey.
Metros are the great hope for Iranian cities slowly being strangled by traffic. The Tehran Metro is growing and similar systems are being built in Mashhad, Shiraz and Esfahan; the first two of which should be operational for some time to come.