The 7th discussion session of the Gorod Moscow Center for Urban Studies was held at the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) on November 2. A round-table discussion brought together economists, urbanists, developers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, transportation specialists and representatives of the Moscow General Planning Research and Project Institute (Genplan of Moscow) and the Moscow City Architecture Committee (the Moskomarkhitektura). The subject discussed by experts, businessmen and government officials was the integration of the Moscow transportation systems in view of the launch of the Moscow Central Circle, commissioning of new transport interchange hubs and construction of the Metro Third Interchange Circuit (TIC).
Mikhail Krestmein, Chief Engineer of the Genplan of Moscow, highlighted three key priorities in the development of the capital transportation infrastructure – priority of passenger over freight transport, prioritized development of all public transport facilities and development of high-speed rail transport. In this regard, the launch of the MCC (Moscow Central Circle) became a real breakthrough in solving urgent problems associated with a deficiency of chord transport links. Shifted towards the north, the MCC merged with the Metro Third Interchange Circuit located further south, forms a great ‘eight’ and creates transverse transport links much needed by the Muscovites. Moreover, it is a rare example of advanced development of transport infrastructure conducive to unlocking the potential of adjacent areas.
According to Maxim Vasiliev, Head of the Off-Street Transportation Department of the Moskomarkhitektura, implementation of these projects will help move the jobs out of the city center and remediate industrial areas. Moscow is a unique metropolis where public transport is used by up to 80% of the population. Therefore, it is our task to ensure that the distance from home to a bus or a metro station will not exceed 1.5 – 2 km.
Discussion participants, having noted doubtless progress in the capital’s transportation infrastructure development, mostly focused, however, on the issues arising in the course of new transportation mega-projects implementation, and discussed possible solutions. One of such issues is the efficient MCC integration with other types of street and off-street transportation – the metro, ground-based urban transport and radial suburban trains.
Kirill Rodin, Head of Social & Political Studies at VCIOM, presenting to the participants the findings of the expert poll conducted prior to the round table, identified the main ‘sore spots’ of the Moscow Central Circle: too long connections from the MCC to the Metro stations; the new thoroughfare being poorly integrated with suburban railway lines; transport interchange hubs and adjacent territories need to be developed further.
The MCC is not a newly built but rather a revamped facility, which was previously used for freight traffic only, and not for passenger service. Therefore, no integration with other types of transport was planned, and, thus, many Metro stations are located at a significant distance from the MCC stations, and it is impossible to bring them closer in most cases. Timur Bashkaev, Chief Architect for the project, explained that all new facilities, naturally, allow this option.
Moreover, even where there is a lengthy connection from the MCC to the Metro, it will be provided on a ‘dry feet’ basis, i.e., in an indoor heated space, or at least, in a clean, well lighted space under a roof, Mr. Vasiliev assured.
However, according to the round table participants, there also exist the issues of the MCC integration with other transportation systems, resolving which will not require such significant spending.
Vladimir Vlasov, Head of the Transport Telematics Department at the Moscow State Automobile & Road Technical University, pointed out a weak linkage of the Moscow Central Circle with both, main public and commercial ground-based transport routes.
And Kirill Yankov, Chairman of the Passengers’ Union Management Board, updated the participants on the weaknesses of the MCC connection to suburban train routes and submitted his proposals for improving the situations, specifically, moving a number of platforms 250-500 m closer to the MCC stations.
According to Alexander Morozov, Co-Chairman of the ‘City & Transport’ Interregional Public Movement, development of light rail transport, e.g., high-speed tram, whose routes should also be linked with the MCC, may become a promising option for Moscow.
Discussion of transport interchange hubs design and functionality prompted the most heated debate.
Irina Ilyina, Director of the Regional Studies and Urban Planning Institute at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, shared her impressions of the Tokyo public transport, commenting that the Moscow transport interchange hubs should also become robust infrastructural centers that would not only provide a connection between different means of transport, but would also integrate services to be provided to the population, including retail. Only in this case will the public transport provide an alternative to personal cars.
Mr. Bashkaev believes that the number of retail outlets near the interchange hubs must be rationed, with emphasis to be placed on the modern standards of transport interchange hubs designing and maintaining the same high standard of requirements to the quality of passenger services, as the one set when implementing the MCC project.
Kirill Puzanov, Head of Research Projects at the Moscow Institute of Social & Cultural Programs, suggests looking for alternatives to retail, identifying other attractive aspects of urban environment, and pinpointing the reasons that could drive a citizen to change his habitual routes and make him use a new thoroughfare.
Denis Kolokolnikov, Co-Chairman of RRG Group Board of Directors, shared his know-hows in the area of improving transport interchange hubs logistic and economic efficiency. A well thought-out logistic plan of passenger moves along their entire journey needs to be combined with a consumption and service environment that would be comfortable for this very specific transport interchange hub. Dependent on its location and traffic, small-scale retail may be economically feasible for some of the transport interchange hubs, while an advantageous option for others may be to build premises for lease, offices or a hotel.
Evgeny Plisetsky, Deputy Head of the Institute of Regional Studies and Urban Planning of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, also mentioned including the territories adjacent to the transport interchange hubs into active urban development. He also pointed out the need for comprehensive study of these territories to establish optimum balance between residential areas and jobs.
A brilliant example showing how all of the wishes of the round table participants may be actually implemented at the same time was provided in the presentation of the currently implemented Ryazanskaya transport interchange hub project, delivered by Anton Tatarchuk managing this project at Mosinzhinvest LLC. Ryazanskaya transport interchange hub will become one of the major ones: it will connect the MCC and the Third Interchange Circuit (with two metro stations merged into one), and will include a new zonal station for suburban trains and a ground-based public passenger transport station. Together with the adjacent area, the interchange hub will provide a shared comfortable space with a well-developed infrastructure: a two-level parking lot, medical and educational centers, a shopping mall, business center/hotel, etc.