17.10.2013 12:08:53

Experts are Positive about Results of the Moscow United Parking Area

A round table was held with the participation of Igor Kuznetsov (head of the Moscow Parking Area Administrator), Mikhail Blinkin (director of the Institute of Transport Economics and Transportation Policy under the National Research University – Higher School of Economics), Norayr Bludyan (head of the Motor Transportation Department of the Moscow Motor Road Institute, member of the Public Council at the Moscow Transport Management and Road Infrastructure Development Department), Konstantin Trofimenko (lead research officer of the Research Center for Megapolis Transportation Problems under the National Research University – Higher School of Economics), Aleksandr Vysokovskiy (dean of the Higher School of Urban Studies), Egor Muleev (research officer of the Research Center for Megapolis Transportation Problems under the National Research University – Higher School of Economics), Vladimir Sokolov (head of the Russian Pedestrians Union), Aleksandr Shumskiy (head of the Probok.Net Expert Center).  The round table also received a video message from distinguished professor of urban planning and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Los-Angeles, author of The High Price of Free Parking book Donald Shoup.

In his opening speech, the head of the Moscow Parking Area Administrator Igor Kuznetsov mentioned that in four months from the start of the project of paid parking lots within the Boulevard Ring a clear cut parking system has been built in compliance with applicable GOST standards, and today each parking space within the Boulevard Ring "works enough for three". The number of private cars entering the limits of the paid parking zone has decreased by 25% compared to the same period of the last year and the average traffic speed in the streets and roads of the Boulevard Ring has grown up by 9%. "According to the VTSIOM (All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion) data, about 45% of the respondents answered they are inclined to support paid parking in the center of Moscow. This is a clear evidence the project is working and people see it", – Kuznetsov emphasized.

As was noted by the head of the Motor Transportation Department of the Moscow Motor Road Institute, member of the Public Council at the Moscow Transport Management and Road Infrastructure Development Department Norayr Bludyan, the magnitude of the problems accumulated over the last twenty years in the transportation sector of Moscow required comprehensive solutions. "I should admit the comprehensive character of measures taken today by the Transportation Department of Moscow inspires deep respect. It is good to see the city has a program of real transformation which, in addition, gives room for productive discussions", – Bludyan added.

In his turn, the head of the Russian Pedestrians Union Vladimir Sokolov noted that since the time the global changes in Moscow transportation policy had begun, fewer road accidents and pedestrian crashes were recorded within the Boulevard Ring.

In the opinion of a research officer of the Research Center for Megapolis Transportation Problems under the National Research University – Higher School of Economics Egor Muleev, it is a little bit inappropriate to speak about a transportation reform in quantitative terms such as traffic speed, parking spaces utilization, number of traffic accidents, etc. "In fact, it would be more objective to speak about changes in people's behavior on the road, – he explained. – We should also take into account the development of intermodal transportation systems that give people a wider choice of methods to move across the city".

In the course of the round table, the experts also discussed the cost of paid parking in Moscow. This subject was touched upon by distinguished professor of urban planning and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Los-Angeles Donald Shoup in his video message. According to the U.S. expert, when introducing paid parking system in Moscow two important reforms need to be implemented. "First of all, the right parking price should be established, – insisted he. – Second, you should ensure that the money collected for paid parking is spent in the most efficient way. This money can be allocated for cleaning and repair of sidewalks, removal of snow, tree planting and improvement of road lighting system. In these aspects municipal authorities should be constantly keeping in touch with local residents. Each of us wants to live on a street without traffic jams, with clean and well-light sidewalks, being able to park his or her car at any time of the day without damaging the roadside amenities. Nobody wants to live on a street with dirty sidewalks jammed to the rafters with parked cars. We should clearly see the benefits we can obtain from paid parking".

The changes in transportation system taking place in Moscow nowadays are expected to turn the Russian capital from an automobile city into a comfortable for living megapolis as early as in the medium term. This is why a report by the director of the Institute of Transport Economics and Transportation Policy under the National Research University – Higher School of Economics Mikhail Blinkin about international experience in reducing the number of parking spaces in cities and creating public pedestrian areas came as a refresher to the experts discussion. "The modern high-rise developments do not imply in principle that each family would have two cars. This is the reality and we should accept it", – Blinkin summed up.

"It is impossible to increase the number of parking spaces infinitely, – Vladimir Sokolov also noticed. – We should make new rules of the game called "Living in the Center of Moscow". I suggest introducing a legislative initiative providing that a person can buy a car only if there is a parking space for it".

However, the experts' opinions on this matter divided. "We should balance the interests of various groups of people including car owners. Moving from on-street parking to off-street multi-layer and underground parking – this is the right way for Moscow", – the dean of the Higher School of Urban Studies Aleksandr Vysokovskiy opined. The expert also underlined the importance of making the project accessible from the online. "Monitoring sensors and an interactive mobile application will allow car owners to receive live information about available parking spaces while experts will have the opportunity to analyze transport situation", – professor Aleksandr Vysokovskiy added.