Moscow addressed its road and public transit congestion problems and developed one of the world’s smartest and most-used public transportation systems. Here’s how.
Smart transport is foundational to any smart city; it is a system that wields a vast array of information and communication technologies to improve efficiency, convenience, and safety across a variety of vehicles and infrastructure assets. But it is a daunting undertaking for cities looking to digitize, with hundreds and thousands of citizens taking daily rides that must run smoothly, cleanly, and on time. In this Q&A, Moscow Deputy Mayor for Transport Maksim Liksutov discusses the city’s efforts to develop a smart transport system that Muscovites enjoy using and that anticipates their ever-changing needs.
McKinsey: Describe Moscow’s transportation challenge and how the city has been addressing it.
Maksim Liksutov: Until 2010, the traffic situation in Moscow was close to critical: the road network had reached maximum capacity, and Moscow had one of the worst road traffic situations in the world. Thus, in 2011 the Government of Moscow and leading Russian and international experts developed the State Program of Moscow Transport Development to 2020. The plan centers on an analysis of large amounts of commuting data to reduce the load on the roads through a strategic approach to upgrades and new construction, as well as the launch of an intelligent transport system (ITS).
The ITS, which controls more than 2,000 video surveillance cameras, 3,700 road detectors, and 6,000 traffic lights, allows us to provide real-time response to traffic situations throughout the city rather than waiting for Muscovites to call emergency responders, law enforcement, or others to resolve issues. The mayor of Moscow was personally involved in developing and implementing the traffic-improvement measures that resulted in a significant reduction in congestion. Despite that, the number of registered private cars in Moscow increased by more than one million since 2010. In fact, according to the TomTom ranking,1Moscow was the most congested out of nearly 400 cities in 2010; by 2016, we had moved down to 13th. The traffic speed in Moscow increased by more than 13 percent—from 45 km/h in 2010 to 51 km/h in 2016. Such congestion reduction is among the best in the world.
We still experience congestion during peak traffic hours, but the improvement has been substantial thanks to the ITS, major changes in parking policies, and significant investments in public transportation, such as metro and buses. In 2017, Moscow won the TomTom award for parking, ranking first globally in quality of parking planning.
McKinsey: What steps is Moscow taking to increase use of the public transport system?
Maksim Liksutov: It is difficult for public transport to compete with the comfort of the car, so we set out to ensure public transport is safe, modern, reliable, accessible, and accommodates the needs of each passenger.
First of all, we have been upgrading our vehicle fleet. Since 2010, we have purchased more than 8,000 new ground transportation vehicles and 1,600 new metro train cars, all manufactured domestically. By the end of 2017, the share of new train cars being used on the metro will reach 37 percent, and ground transportation vehicles will be at 90 percent. Today, the average age of urban buses is less than five years, and 98 percent of our ground transportation vehicles are accessible to disabled passengers. The Moscow metro offers a special assistance service, and there are also “social taxis” to help the elderly and the disabled navigate the city.