The city of Moscow has been awarded the 2016 Transport Achievement Award for what the judges say is its “exemplary approach” to improving traffic conditions in the Russian capital.

The prize, awarded by the International Transport Forum (ITF), is in recognition of a series of initiatives to reduce congestion following 20 years of almost uncontrolled development of urban traffic.

Over the past five years Moscow has introduced a “rigorous and comprehensive” set of policies to address the gridlock on its streets, reducing the number of cars in central Moscow by 25% and increasing the average speed of traffic by 12%, despite 600 new cars being registered in the area each day.

In 2013, Moscow traffic was ranked as worst in the world by the TomTom Traffic Index.  In the 2016 edition it has improved to fifth place in that index.

The ITF jury recognized the “impressive achievement in improving overall traffic in Moscow.”  In particular, the jurors highlighted “the effectiveness of coherent, coordinated initiatives and policy actions that facilitated this remarkable change.”

Measures put into place in Moscow include:

  • Paid car parking: Paid parking was introduced in 2012 and since then has systematically expanded to areas with high car traffic.  Within the framework of a policy designed to build civilized parking space, more than 67 000 paid parking spaces have been introduced since 2012, including 7 000 parking places for disabled people.  Parking violations in Moscow fell by 65%.  Paid parking has generated €90 million in revenues over that period.  These funds are used to improve the neighborhoods where fees are collected; residents decide how to allocate funds.
  • Development of public transport: Moscow’s city transport handles over 15 million passenger journeys per day.  Since 2010, 34 kilometres of subway track were added, 18 new metro stations built and about 1 500 new subway cars purchased.  Over the same period, the capital city’s fleet has been updated significantly.  More than 5 000 new buses, 538 trolleybuses and 150 trams were added to service the routes.  The route network has been optimised.  More than 100 new routes have been created for surface transport, 230 kilometres of bus lanes built, more than 5,000 stops renovated and 552 electronic information boards installed.  98% of the transit fleet servicing the routes is wheelchair-accessible.
  • Innovative ticketing: More than 50% of trips in Moscow use electronic travel cards called “Troika”, introduced in 2013, which has reduced queues at ticket windows by one third, drastically cut the number of ticket purchases from surface transport drivers, and saved around €15 million on the production of paper tickets.  To stimulate the use of long-term passes, prices have been lowered for unlimited ride passes.  An intermodal 90-minute ticket makes transfers easier, cheaper and more popular.
  • Governance reform in public transport: Contracts for above-ground transport are now awarded through open competitive tenders.  Bidders must guarantee standards set by the Moscow city government, including comfortable buses, payment via city transit passes, unified schedules, and provide free transit for eligible passengers.  Contracts for 211 city routes have been awarded to commercial operators, with operations scheduled to start in mid-2016.
  • Development of cycling: In 2015, 880,000 bike trips were made using the city’s shared bicycles, an eightfold increase over the previous year.  2,600 bicycles are available to city dwellers at 300 automatic bike stations.  From 2011 to 2015, the total length of bike paths increased nearly hundredfold, from 2.3 kilometers to 216 kilometers.  Legislation was changed to allow cyclists to use bus lanes and to take bicycles on surface transport for free.  In 2016, by way of experiment, a sharing system of electric bicycles will be launched.
  • Car sharing and taxi reform: Moscow’s first short-term car sharing system started operations in 2015.  Today, it has a pool of 550 cars and more than 70,000 registered users who have taken over 220,000 trips since its inception.  Taxis account for 260,000 daily rides in Moscow.  Problems with unregulated cab services, including the use of potentially unsafe cabs, have been addressed through the issue of more than 60,000 official permits to cab drivers.
  • Environmental requirements for cargo vehicles: To improve the environmental situation and to reduce polluting emissions into the air, restrictions were imposed on truck transits through the city in 2013.  Only trucks conforming to the emission standard Euro-3 or higher are allowed to enter Moscow’s downtown.  More than 900 road cameras monitor truck traffic on a daily basis.  These controls and other regulatory measures had helped reduce the air pollution level by 11% by 2015.

“For many years, Muscovites believed that traffic jams were simply the price to pay for living in a big city. This has changed”, said Sergey Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow.  “Our achievements in fighting the traffic gridlock have been made possible by the efforts of an effective team of professionals who believe in the power to make substantive changes. This important international award encourages us to continue this work.”