Public Transport Today

The level of development and strength of the economy of modern cities are measured based on the state of public transportation. This part of the project relates to the state of public transportation in three post-Soviet capitals. Kyiv, Tbilisi and Chisinau all face problems associated with development of public transport. We talked with citizens and experts in order to identify the problems.

According to data from Kyiv city hall (2017), in Kyiv 1.7 million passengers use at least 1 out of 5 modes of transportation (Metro, bus, trolleybus, tram, funicular) a day. Kyiv had the most streamlined transportation system in the Soviet Union. The first public transport was launched in Kyiv in 1880, when coaches intended for regular passengers first appeared in the city; however, motored public transport appeared a bit later at the end of the 19th century. The first tram appeared in 1892 and first bus in 1913. Unique means of transport spanning the period from that era up to the present can be seen in the Kyiv Transport Museum.

Despite the good heritage, Kyiv’s modern public transportation doesn’t meet international standards. There are three Metro lines, which cover approximately 2/3 of the city. According to official information, there are trolleybuses (390), buses (330), trams (280), minibuses (1,600), express trains (11). Kyiv’s bus and tram fleets were updated with financial assistance from the EBRD in 2007. However, these 40 new trams and 20 new buses are just a fraction of the city’s transport system. According to expert Artem Polukh, the majority of the city’s transport is still outdated and in poor condition. As he noted, there’s no accurate schedule and/or electronic card program that would make travel comfortable.

The chaotic running of minibuses is another problem in Kyiv. Minibuses are managed by private companies. According to representative of Kyivpastrans Transportation Company, Roman Shchypkov, the majority of minibuses are in disrepair.

When answering a question on whether the authorities had a financial interest in the companies’ managing minibuses, he said:

Buses and minibuses often duplicate routes. According to urban expert Artem Polukh, there’s neither the political will nor a sufficient number of buses to supplement minibuses in Kyiv.

Development of electric transport is as important for Kyiv as tackling environmental issues. Trams run on almost all the central streets of Kyiv. However, their movement is often impeded by vehicles parked on the rails. According to the employees of Kyiv Tram, the development of electric transport is not a priority for the municipality.

Unlike Kyiv, there are no trams in Tbilisi and currently there are no plans for them to be revived. There are 4 modes of transportation in Georgia’s capital: buses (816), Metro, minibuses (1,800) and cabs. Buses and the Metro are the main modes of transportation in Tbilisi. The first Metro line connecting Didube and Rustaveli was opened in 1966. Today, there are two lines on the Tbilisi Metro, which are 27.6 kilometers long in total and there are a total of 24 stations on the Tbilisi subway. One of the means of public transport is used by more than 1 million people a day. Buses are the most popular mean of transportation in Tbilisi. Every day about 350,000 people are transported on buses.

It’s practically impossible to travel comfortably during rush hour in Tbilisi. Overcrowded buses and subway cars often don’t have enough spaces for people to stand, let alone sit.

The number of passengers is increasing annually and the volume of transport is insufficient. Civil activist Keti Sartania says it’s necessary to increase the number of subway cars and buses.

“The public transport system is in really bad shape in Tbilisi,” the Director of Hub Georgia, Vaso Urushadze, says. Apart from MAN buses, of which there are 520 in the city, neither the bus fleet nor the Metro meets modern standards as far as passenger comfort and accessibility are concerned.

Several municipal bus routes have been taken out of service in Tbilisi, which left certain districts without municipal transport and created problems with movement within city limits for the population. Minibuses are the only mode of transportation in those districts.

Minibuses are owned by private companies in all three capitals and they have a more commercial purpose than a public one. Duplication of routes is a common problem for all capitals in the post-Soviet area. Vaso Urushadze says the main problem for the running of transport is the absence of a unified system.

Chisinau faces a similar problem. Minibuses are controlled by a private company. Their movement often duplicates the routes of municipal transport. Urban expert Vitalie Sprinceana says the transport system’s old infrastructure makes Chisinau public transport chaotic.

Chisinau’s transport system is smaller compared to Tbilisi and Kyiv. The capital of Moldova has no subway. The city, with its population of 600,000 people, is served by three types of public transport: trolleybuses (302), minibuses (1,192) and buses (75). The most developed of these three is electric transport. According to experts, the trolleybus fleet is the closest to meeting European standards out of all the transport available in the city. However, the situation with minibuses and buses is absolutely different. The number of buses is insufficient and it is not safe to travel in minibuses. Tatiana Mikhailova from the Safe Roads non-governmental organization says if a sufficient number of buses circulate in Chisinau, then the need for minibuses will vanish.

According to the Director of the Urbanproiect Institute and co-author of the Development Plan, Iurie Povar, the transport system is not developed under a common strategy in Chisinau; despite the fact that specialists have elaborated a Development Plan, the authorities have not taken it into consideration.

The main problem that is common for all three post-Soviet cities is the insufficient numbers of public transport.

Infographics show the types of transport and their numbers according to the cities.

According to the standards defined in an EU Directive , city transport must be safe and pollution-free, the appropriate road infrastructure must be present, public transport should run according to established timetables and employees should enjoy the appropriate working conditions. According to this part of our project, the main problem that is common for all three post-Soviet cities is that the infrastructure is old and insufficient. The numbers of transport means available are insufficient. The entire public transport system needs to be overhauled.

Urban experts have similar recommendations for the development of the transport systems of all three cities. There is a need to increase the public transport fleet in the cities, and to control the movement of private vehicles using bus lanes. There are separate bus lanes in all three cities. However, this main principle is not observed anywhere: private vehicles also use these lanes, they impede movement and create traffic jams. In Kyiv these bus lanes are often used as parking areas. The main recommendation is to integrate transport. All modes of transportation must be connected with each other. The running of surface and underground transport must be subject to schedules. Various modes of transport should be synchronized and they should form a unified network.

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