Sep 15, 2021
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Public transport development program is gaining momentum

At the moment, a program in the field of urban public transport is being implemented in Russia. Probably, the residents of Moscow have already forgotten what it is like to ride old worn-out buses. But in many regions, citizens still have to face such a “miracle” every day.

However, the process of renewing public transport is not as easy as it seems at first glance.

First, modernization of public transport requires a lot of money (even according to the most conservative estimates, we are talking about several trillion rubles). And the regions most often do not have such financial opportunities.

Secondly, it is impossible to simply renew the rolling stock without revising the route network, tariff policy and the system of contracts with carriers, without elaborating detailed plans for the development of infrastructure, etc. Only an integrated approach to the development of public transport can provide a high quality of this social service for citizens …

Thirdly, if we are to buy tens of thousands of buses, trolleybuses and trams, then this must be done from domestic manufacturers. After all, the production of vehicles is the most important high-tech sector of the economy, which, in addition to developing the relevant competencies, provides jobs for hundreds of thousands of citizens. But our Russian manufacturers must be ready for such a large order. If we follow a simple path and buy transport abroad, then the effect of such a renewal for our economy will be much lower.

Therefore, the state faced a very difficult task. On the one hand, there is a problem, and it is vitally important to solve it, but, on the other hand, it was necessary to develop a project that would exclude errors in the process of its entire implementation.

And such a project appeared. The Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, together with the state development corporation VEB.RF, presented last year the Federal Project “Modernization of Passenger Transport in Urban Agglomerations.” The document must be divided into two stages of implementation: 2020 – 2024 and 2025 – 2030. The first stage has already started and is gaining momentum.

In total, 5.1 trillion rubles will be invested in the modernization of public transport by 2030. This money will be used to renew the transport fleet in 104 agglomerations (including 75% of buses and 25% of electric transport).

And at the moment, with the participation of VEB.RF, work is underway to fulfill the instructions of the President of the Russian Federation to approve and implement a unified program for the modernization of public transport across the country.

A start

The project was launched last year in Tver. VEB.RF financed the delivery of 438 domestic buses LiAZ (part of the GAZ Group) for a total amount of 3.03 billion rubles. In February 2020, new buses entered the route, which replaced the out-of-date trolleybuses and emergency minibuses.

During the implementation of the project, in addition to updating the bus fleet, a transparent tariff policy was envisaged, control over the fulfillment of the carriers’ work schedule, provision of reduced fares on all routes, and an increase in the economic efficiency of urban and inter-municipal transport enterprises. All this optimized passenger traffic, allowed residents to move around the city cheaper and more comfortably, and eliminated interruptions in the bus schedule.

For the Tver region, this project is basic, it has a high social significance. A high-quality system of organizing public transport is one of the elements of the development of the region as a whole.

The renovation of public transport in Tver has shown its efficiency and commercial viability. Therefore, having completed the assigned tasks, VEB.RF left the project, handing it over to a profile investor.

VEB.RF has already started scaling the model to other cities. To date, cooperation agreements have been signed and road maps have been developed for the development of public transport in 15 cities, including with Nizhny Novgorod, Tver, Chelyabinsk, Barnaul, Blagoveshchensk, Penza, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Yoshkar-Ola, Kursk, Ufa, Astrakhan, Vladivostok and others.

In parallel with Tver, a public transport reform was taking place in Perm. VEB.RF together with the State Transport Leasing Company (STLK) financed the purchase of 111 low-floor domestic buses manufactured by LiAZ (part of the GAZ Group) for 1.3 billion rubles. Half of them run on compressed natural gas, which significantly reduces the burden on the environment.

In the Perm project, as in the Tver project, the region moved to work under the so-called gross contracts. Their essence lies in the fact that passenger fares go not directly to carriers, but to the city budget. And already from there, carriers receive payment for the amount of work actually performed. This made it possible to get away from the “race” of carriers, which significantly reduced the accident rate on the roads.

Not by bus alone

Talking about the modernization of public transport systems, special attention should be paid to the tram. Still, buses are the main, but also the easiest type of transport to start up. But for the organization of tram traffic you have to “suffer”. There are many issues to be addressed, ranging from the laying of rails to the purchase of more expensive equipment.

But the result is already there. A pilot project for organizing tram traffic was launched in Taganrog. Its implementation will make it possible to revive the Taganrog tram network and make the movement of city residents more comfortable. Moreover, this project also has a great historical background, because tram traffic in Taganrog was launched in 1932, but, alas, several years ago, due to financial losses, it was stopped. However, the joint initiative of the Federation Council and the state corporation VEB.RF made it possible to revive the brainchild of the Soviet era.

Taganrog Tramway is the first and so far the only project in Russia to modernize the entire tramway network of the city. Its total cost is 11.8 billion rubles, of which 3.6 billion is financing from VEB.RF. It is planned to modernize 45.5 kilometers of tram tracks, build a depot and 8 traction substations, as well as bring 60 modern trams of domestic production to the line.

On September 10, the initial stage of the project was completed in Taganrog. Movement in the near future will begin so far only along the first 10.6 kilometers, but the very fact of the launch cannot but inspire. By the end of September, 10 new trams will enter the line, 7 of which have already been delivered to the city.

The Chairperson of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko noted the work done and outlined the final deadline for the project:

The state of the tram network was depressing, with 90 percent wear and tear. According to the agreement reached, the government of the Russian Federation developed a concession plan based on the principles of public-private partnership. A year later, 10 kilometers of new modern tram tracks with stopping pavilions were built, the remaining 35 kilometers of tracks and 60 new trams were built and will be put into operation by September 2022. This is a lot of work.

First Deputy Chairman of VEB.RF – Board Member Nikolai Tsekhomsky noted the following:

Next year the Taganrog tram will celebrate its 90th anniversary. Now the tram is used by about 20% of Taganrog residents. After the implementation of the project, there will be twice as many of them. Now the average speed of a tram is about 12 kilometers per hour, it is expected that it will double to 20-25 kilometers per hour, which will significantly accelerate the movement of passengers. As a result of the project, residents of the city will receive a service of a completely different quality – modern, technological, convenient transport for daily trips around the city.

Of course, the number of road accidents will significantly decrease in the city. Also, the launch of the tram means a renewal of the very appearance of the city. There are a lot of interesting historical sites here. But, unfortunately, Taganrog has never been considered a tourist center. We believe that improving the quality of transport infrastructure is the first sign. We hope that it will give impetus to the development of the tourism industry in Taganrog.

The first year of the implementation of the project for the renovation of public transport in Russian cities gives confidence that all plans will be fulfilled and most of our citizens will begin to travel by modern buses, trolleybuses and trams in the coming years. And this is the case when the social policy of the state, implemented by the development institute VEB.RF, goes “hand in hand” with the economy. After all, every ruble invested in the modernization of public transport in cities will work not only to improve the quality of life of the population, but will also go to the development of transport engineering.

Konstantin Dvinsky

Photo: VEB.RF

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