The Moscow News 21 октября 2005 г., №40
Traffic jams remain one of the city's more notorious problems and the talk of the town. The car park capacity in the Russian capital has exceeded 3 million cars. Cars continue to pollute, yet Moscow ignored the Day without Cars, commemorated in 1300 towns of the world
A round table at the House of Journalists discussed possible ways of clearing the Moscow roads. Some specialists stressed that more road construction will be of no use, citing the largest world cities as examples. Instead of constructing more overpasses, the traffic should be regulated with the help of special public transport strips, they said.
Odd Enough Ways
But the city authorities don't seem to be willing to terminate the road-building. The construction of large highways is needed, some city's architects believe. Mayor Yury Luzhkov said recently that construction of commercial roads within the city will be "an absolute exception."
Luzhkov forwarded some surprising ideas. "If we cover our railroads, leading from nine railroad stations, we'll get some good arterial highways," he was quoted as saying in Moskovsky Komsomolets daily. "It is extremely profitable," Luzhkov added. According to the mayor, if, for example, the railroad from the Kievsky station is "covered," the city could gain a "posh double" Kutuzovsky Prospekt and Mozhaiskoye Shosse. Luzhkov also added that he had long ago proposed to make Rublyovo-Uspenskoye Shosse a one-way road.
It remains unclear how the authorities are going to fight traffic jams. So far, they seem to believe the only effective method is evacuating cars parked in wrong places and hindering the cleaning of streets. The city government will begin evacuating cars again soon.
The chairman of the public movement "Muscovites for the Tram" Alexander Morozov proposes to do away with the main cause of traffic jams - excessive motorization of the city - "by improving public transport and enhancing its prestige." Participants of the movement advocate "reasonable limitation" of the usage of cars, especially in the city center during rush hours. Morozov cites the example of London, where a payment for entrance to the center was introduced.
As for the future of public transport, Morozov told The Moscow News that the authorities could invent some other "stupidity," similar to monorail, light metro or mini-metro. "In the end, they will understand that nothing principally new could be devised: This wouldn't have a practical transport use and, like monorail, would be very expensive while being built or exploited."
A mini-metro, he thinks, is nothing else but an extension of the metro, only with a shorter platform and less overall area. "Sooner or later the authorities will understand that a single system of high-speed and traditional trams should be developed," Morozov said. He added that the main task of his movement is to help accelerate adoption of these necessary measures and strategies.
Way Out for Trolleybus
Contrary to Morozov, many propose liquidating traffic jams by removing trolleybuses from the city center because they are too bulky. Supporters of public transport, however, stress that trolleybuses with autonomous power supply are used in many big European cities and could be bought for Moscow too.
Liquidating trolleybuses is an old method of getting rid of something undesirable, be it an old building, a tram, a trolleybus line or a square, Morozov told The Moscow News. "First the object is reduced to a breakdown condition by being exploited in a wrong way or by breaking the technology. Then an announcement follows that the object is not needed by anyone and can not be repaired - and it is finally destroyed."
In case of trolleybuses, Morozov thinks the city government does not take any measures to secure their unhindered movement in the center, violating the rules of their exploitation. Abroad, there are special strips for public transport on the roads. In Moscow, Morozov says, not only are such strips not created but they are deliberately destroyed. For example, on Bolshaya Lubyanka Street trolleybuses moved to the center by a special strip. Now this strip has been given to cars, while trolleybuses move around by Myasnitskaya Street.
Passengers don't want to use trolleybuses because they move slower now in traffic jams. Many take to the overcrowded metro even if they have to go two stops, Morozov says. He believes that the entire public transport organization scheme has been designed for car drivers for whom a U-turn of 1-2 km is not a problem. Because of this, trolleybuses have to cross the Garden Ring within 15-30 minutes, making detours at the places where there were only crossroads earlier. "Such deliberate destruction of the trolleybus is barbarism," Morozov believes. He thinks the best way out is to restore the tram with isolated tracks and give trolleybuses special strips on some streets.
Public transport makes up 80% of transportation, Morozov says. By raising this figure by 10%, the flow of private transport could be cut two-fold (from 20% to 10%). "Muscovites for the Tram" believe that sooner or later this will be understood, as it has occurred in the West.
"By increasing the number of roads Luzhkov is enhancing lifeless space, reducing areas suitable for a man," Morozov said. The only way out, according to the project developed by his movement, is public transport, which allows cutting 10-fold the space occupied by moving transport and parking space by thousands times.
A metro wagon carries 1000 passengers a day and occupies one place in a depot while a car needs 3-5 parking places.
Officials in the Moscow government said they had decided to allocate nearly 645 million rubles to buy 132 buses, trolleybuses and trams for the city by the end of 2005.
But the news is overshadowed by reports about the inevitable rise of public transport fares from the beginning of 2006. First deputy head of the Department for Economic Policy and Development of the capital Valery Zharov only promised at the end of September that new tariffs would remain "below the inflation rates."
Construction of Roads Is under Way
There are plans to build by 2013 a part of the Zvenigorodsky Prospekt, a part of the Fourth Ring (from Guryanova Street to Yaroslavskoye Shosse), doubles of Kutuzovsky Prospekt and Volgogradsky Prospekt; to reconstruct Dmitrovskoye Shosse and highways leading to Moskva-City and the Vnukovo airport.
The Moscow authorities have commissioned the Genplan scientific research institute with substantiating the investments of a part of the Moscow-St. Petersburg route to be situated in the north of the city, from the Moscow Ring Road to Academic Korolyov Street.
The building of two motorway interchanges on the Third Ring at the place of its intersection with Begovaya Street and Leningradsky Prospekt will be finished by November 1. Two overpasses are being built here - a descent from the Leningradsky Prospekt to New Bashilovka and a U-turn from the Prospekt towards the Moscow region.
Construction of a road junction at the crossing of the Third Road Ring with Sushchevsky Val is also under way. A tunnel has been built linking Sheremetyevskaya Street and Soviet Army Street.
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