The NYT is writing about Iranians in Karbala now. Now that it is legal for Iranians to travel to Karbala (at least from Iran's standpoint), I do not meet as many people who are making the trip. The illegal trip cost about $100. The legal trip, now, costs $400.
Resolute Iranian Pilgrims Meet Awed G.I.'s
Maybe that is why more people are walking through the mountains now rather than taking the bus.