The municipal authorities in Moscow have an ambitious plan to make the city tourist-friendly and to improve the quality of life for ordinary Muscovites. Transport presents challenges is all megacities, and the authorities have now focussed their attention on traffic jams. Moscow is in the top 10 or even in the top 5 among the cities with the worst traffic problems. There are several reasons for these problems.
According to estimates, Moscow has 17 million inhabitants and its population density is 2.5 times higher than in comparable cities. At the same time, road density is 2.2 to 3.6 times lower than in comparable cities elsewhere. The total number of cars is 5.5 million. Moscow has simply not been designed for so much traffic. In the 1970s there were only 0.5 million registered vehicles in Moscow. Now, on any given day, some 800.000 cars are in use there. Normal traffic flow in Moscow can only support approximately 400.000 vehicles. Some 60% of the city’s streets and some 80% of its highways experience traffic overload. The average speed is 15-20 km/h. To make matters worse, some 40% of all workplaces are in the city centre.
The biggest problem is the lack of connections between different districts. The current structure with a radial road + ring layout has developed over centuries. Its origins are in the traditional medieval citadel. The authorities have shown various degrees of insight and understanding in their plans over time but unfortunately the road network has never been modernised. To travel from one end of the city to the opposite end is only possible through the city centre. Adding more ring roads is seen by some as a solution even though it would not solve the basic problem. Most of Moscow is inside the outer ring road, the so-called MKAD, which is 110 km long. The downtown area is inside the Garden Ring, which is congested almost all the time. The connections between the radial roads are weak or non-existent. As late as in the 1990s, the impact of new residential areas on the transport infrastructure was not taken into consideration in planning.
To improve traffic flow, the local authorities want to see a reduction in the number of cars that travel through the city centre, to build more roads and to improve traffic control. To meet the first objective, they are trying to improve public transport and reduce free parking. Traffic control has been improved with the help of cutting-edge technology. Some streets have been redesigned to give more space to pedestrians and to make it more difficult for drivers to execute creative manoeuvres. The changes also anticipate the introduction of self-driving cars. And finally, Moscow wants to spend as much as 5bn roubles on road construction this year out of 8bn roubles available for the city’s construction projects. High-priority projects include highways that will provide direct links between the densely populated northern, eastern and south-eastern districts.
These improvements are not possible without the necessary products, systems and services from both local and foreign suppliers. For example, there are currently a number of open tenders for traffic control systems and equipment. Foreign companies that do not have a subsidiary in Russia will normally need a Russian partner in order to qualify as suppliers. The reason is that electronic signatures required for accreditation are only available for residents. We recommend that you should look for a reliable partner in advance and create a joint strategy. Contact Seppo Hoffrén Consultancy if you would like to have more specific suggestions and advice. Maybe your company can participate in shaping Moscow’s future.