EXPERT OPINION

Mikhail Blinkin

Director of Institute for Transport Economics and Transport Policy Studies of National Research University of Higher School of Economics, Member of the Public Chamfer.

Design of the International Financial Centre’s transport structure should be informed by quantitative evidence that will determine the type and capacity of systems required to connect the region to Greater Moscow. Of the 100,000 positions that are expected to be created within the International Financial Center, some 33,000 will be permanent residents. If we suppose that 7,000 employees will not have to commute by transport, this still leaves over 90,000 passengers to be transported into the district by the start of the working day. From the point of view of the city’s current transport system and passenger flows, this is actually a very manageable situation, since morning passenger journeys are today generally from the periphery into the centre, whilst this flow will be in the opposite direction. Such poly-centrism is a gift for any transport planner. At the same time, we still need to undertake a number of necessary technical steps. For example if we do not make a new subway link to the site then the project would be unfeasible. We cannot bring 90,000 people in by bus. We could try to develop a creative approach using a modern railway alternative, but the reality today is that the Moscow Metro is the smoothest running mode of public transport, both in terms of design and construction. Naturally, we will also need to provide an effective road entrance, with a bridge over the Rublevskoye highway

Alongside quantitative factors, several typological concerns that should not be overlooked. In particular, I believe we cannot use transport behaviour of Moscow in 2013 to model transport behaviour in the Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye region in the year 2025 or 2030. The prevailing model of behaviour in Moscow was widespread in American cities in the 1930s and European cities in the ‘60s, but the situation there has changed long ago. Even in the European cities with the most car-use, like Milan, for instance, there were 700 cars to every 1000 residents in 1990, but by 2013 this figure had reduced to 500 per thousand. In Moscow, the car ownership figure is now over four-hundred cars per thousand residents, so in that sense we are gradually catching up with Europe. But must 95 we repeat the thirty year old mistakes of others? It is unwise to expect that the situation today will remain unchanged for another twenty years, and therefore we must limit car parking spaces, and plan the relative vehicle to population ratio.

Milan is now targeting a car ownership ratio of three-hundred cars per thousand residents; while prosperous Singapore, with its excellent road network the likes of which Moscow is unlikely to ever see, is employing artificial measures to maintain a level car ownership ratio of two-hundred vehicles per thousand residents. Considering that the IFC territory will feature very comfortable pedestrian environments, we should consider the model of collectivised car-use, with subscribers using a club-card to pick up and return a short-term rental car from a parking lot. In Moscow today, this would be quite an exotic solution, especially when we consider that 80% of car owners are first generation road-users. According to polling, Americans, the world’s leading car users, see the car as a convenient device, up there alongside the likes of the microwave, refrigerator and lawnmower. In Russia, however, the car is held as a symbol of prestige and freedom due to first generation car ownership. We must look at the trend toward the modest and reserved in European car ownership, that is completely at odds with the idea of a car cult.

Otherwise we will simply not have enough square metres within the city. In my view, car access and parking spaces are required by just a small section of users, IFC personnel. The general public should make the journey using public transport. According to international practice there are three main segments of car-users: luxury users, territory service personnel and casual users. Luxury includes company presidents and CEOs. Service users are utility maintenance, transport for trade goods and emergency response staff. The third segment is those who must have occasional access to a vehicle in exchange for a payment set at a level that would not cripple them, say twice a month, but would be high enough to encourage them to refrain from daily use. The world has already been through this process whereby levels of car ownership are regulated using fiscal methods. The English refer to this as ‘Road Pricing’, i.e. a set of measures associated with charging levies for the use of road space.