We want Moscow to be a comfortable place to live
“We stuck to the rules of competent city development. We’re creating equal opportunities for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians,” Deputy Mayor of Moscow in the Government of Moscow and Head of the Moscow Department of Transport and Road Infrastructure Development Maksim Liksutov said in an exclusive interview with Capital Ideas.
Moscow placed sixth in the McKinsey & Company rating of the world’s megacities with the most developed city transportation systems. It also won the prestigious Global Public Transport 2017 award. What was the first thing international experts noticed?
Over the course of a few years, Moscow has implemented a lot of big and important projects, including improvements to traffic, comfort and popularity of public transportation, and updates to city spaces. In McKinsey & Company’s rating of transportation systems in big cities, Moscow placed 6th out of 24 cities. The capital has moved up 14 places over the past 7 years, and in terms of this trend we’re ahead of everybody else in the world. According to our results from 2010, Moscow would have placed 20th on the same rating.
The experts assessed city transportation systems in terms of their impact on quality of life. According to data from 2017, Moscow placed alongside of leading cities all over the globe: Madrid, London, Chicago, Seoul, and Hong Kong. The capital is in first place in terms of resident satisfaction with changes to the city. The share of Muscovites who think changes to public transport in the city have been positive amounts to 74%.
Overall, five leading international institutions have recognized the city’s progress: UITP Global Public Transport Award, Sustainable Transport Award, ITF Transport Award, Intelligent Community Award, TomTom Parking Award Winner. In 2017, the Russian capital placed first for the comprehensive development of the transportation system at the UITP Summit in Montreal. The UITP paid special attention to the development of the Moscow Central Circle, updates to the city carrier fleet, and faster city transport speeds.
Moscow’s goal is to become the leader on the McKinsey & Company rating, and we think that this is an entirely realistic goal. In order to do this, we have to maintain the current pace at which we introduce new modern transport, as well as construction speeds for the metro, the Moscow Central Diameters, roads, and interchanges.
In 2011, the city updated its development strategy, shifting its focus to making public transportation more popular. What measures enabled this to happen?
Before 2011, drivers were the focal point of the city’s transportation system. Roads were expanded, highways were built, the city’s space was used for parking, and public transportation developed slowly. As we remember, Moscow placed first in the world in terms of traffic jams in 2012 as a result.
To turn things around, in 2011 we approved a transportation development strategy that was created together with the world’s leading experts. We stuck to the rules of competent city development. We all love Moscow and want it to be a nice and comfortable place to live, study, and work in. So that people come here from all over the world. So this is why we reconsidered how we approach the development of our transportation system. We’re creating equal opportunities for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, especially considering that we’re pedestrians above all else. In terms of getting around the city, public transportation is what we focus on.
This approach yielded results. According to TomTom, an independent expert and navigation system manufacturer, there has been a 23% reduction in traffic on Moscow roads since 2010. According to the capital’s road traffic organization center, average speed during the day has increased by 16%. Moscow has also implemented a parking space project, which eliminated chaotic parking, increased parking space turnover, and created a safe and pleasant environment for pedestrians, city transport, and drivers.
We had a task – to show city residents that they don’t have to always take their personal cars and can choose to take public transportation. So aside from combating traffic jams, we’re actively developing public transportation – purchasing new buses, trams, train and metro cars, introducing new routes, building new stations and metro lines, adding modern passenger services.
The result is that the share of city residents who use public transportation during rush hour has increased to 68% in 2017, up from 63% in 2010. We’re seeing a big increase in passengers who participate in the city’s economy. Compared to 2010, there are 1.5 billion additional public transportation trips in 2017.
The Moscow Central Circle – a railway that stretches around the center of the capital and is connected to the metro with interchanges and the same payment system – has been operating for 2 years now. Was this project a success?
Yes, it’s very popular right now. This year, according to our forecasts, the MCC will transport about 120 million passengers, which is a third more than it transported during its first year of operations. On weekdays, it’s already accommodating 450,000 trips. Our record is 501,000 trips, and we hit that number in November 2018.
Muscovites really like the MCC. It’s a really convenient, reliable form of transportation, and there are free transfers to and from the metro. As we open new transfers and continue to integrate it with other railway routes, we expect even more passengers on the MCC. In 2019, we’re going to work with Russian railways to shorten the frequency of trains on the circle line by another minute, bringing it down to 4 minutes.
The city has already announced a new project – the Moscow Central Diameters, which will connect suburban trains with the center. Where will they go to and how will this work? How will this be different from suburban trains?
The Moscow Central Diameters (MCD) will operate as an above-ground metro. The construction of the Large Circle Line of the metro along with other lines will enable us to strengthen the links between different districts of the capital and have one of the largest metro systems in the world. By 2023, the total length of the Moscow metro will amount to over 1,000 km under ground.
The MCD is being constructed based on existing railway infrastructure jointly by Russian Railways, the Government of the Moscow Oblast, and the Russian Ministry of Transport. The goal of the project is to connect the existing railway line and create new cut-through routes that will directly connect suburban towns through the center of Moscow.
The MCD project is split up into stages. The first two diameters, the MCD-1 Odyntsovo-Lobnya and MCD-2 Nakhabino-Podolsk, are scheduled to be launched somewhere between the end of 2019 to the beginning of 2020. The rest of the diameters will be launched before 2023. The MCD will have fast, convenient trains with transfers to the metro, the MCC, and above-ground transport.
After the first stage is implemented, public transport will become more accessible to 3.7 million people. This includes the residents of Lianozovo, Vostochnoye Degunino, Otradnoye, Altufyevskiy, Mozhaiskiy, Mitino, Yuzhnoye Tushino, Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo, Shyukino, Krasnoselskiy, Moskvorechiye-Saburovo, Tsaritsyno, Maryino, Nizhnegorodskiy, Yuzhnoye Butovo, and other districts. It will also be convenient to get to the city from outside of Moscow: from Skolkovo, Lobnya, Dolgoprudniy, Odintsovo, Krasnogorsk, Podolsk, and Nakhabino.
How will the city’s above-ground transport change over the next few years?
There is a global trend that has made environmentally friendly transport more popular, especially electric transport. Moscow is at the forefront of introducing the most advanced type of transport — in September, we got our first electric buses. We plan on introducing them across another 5 lines before the end of the year. By that point, another 100 electric buses will be supplied. The Russian GAZ and KamAZ plants manufacture the electric buses. According to the contract, they will supply us with 100 electric buses and 31 charging stations each by March 2019. In December, we plan on holding a contest for the purchase of another 100 buses. We plan on purchasing 300 electric buses per year until 2021, after which Moscow will stop using diesel buses and will only purchase electric transport.
We’re purchasing new trams. Right now, we have over 200 modern, three-section Vityaz-M trams, which transport over 1 million passengers a week. There will be 300 of them by the end of 2019, and the tram park will be fully updated by 2024. These are modern cars with climate control systems, satellite navigation, video surveillance cameras, and USB plugs for charging mobile devices. They also have a low floor, which makes them comfortable for passengers with limited mobility.
Carsharing is becoming more popular in Moscow. How many carsharing operators are there in Moscow and how big is their car park? Does this system help cut down on traffic?
Moscow is already the world’s leading city in terms of how quickly the carsharing (short-term car rental) market is developing. One car is used seven or eight times a day. Over 12 million people used these services over the course of 9 months in 2018, which is double the number for the entirety of 2017. If there were a total of 100 cars when carsharing was first introduced in 2015, there are now about 11,500 cars in the city. This service is becoming more popular due to the increase in the number of cars, flexible pricing, various customer reward systems, and new services. For example, there are now premium class cars and child seats, and the area covered by carsharing services keeps expanding.
What kinds of changes has the taxi market gone through over the past few years?
As of October, the Moscow taxi market is 111 years old. There are about 50-55,000 taxis in the city, and about 760 people use the service daily. Over the past seven years, we’ve reformed the industry by establishing standards for taxi transfers. It’s now easier and more convenient for drivers to get permits, all cabs are now yellow and travel in designated lanes.
Because there is a lot of competition, the price for taxi rides has gone down and is now one of the lowest in the world. In turn, the city provides support for the taxi market. Companies can purchase new cars with credit or lease them, and over 500 million rubles have been allocated for this program. 19,400 cars have already been purchased with the subsidy program. Now, taxis are just 2.7 years old on average.