transport

The new Magistral surface transport network:
answering the questions

In October, we're launching a new surface transit network in Moscow — the Magistral. Magistral changes the routing of bus, trolleybus and tramway services in the city centre and along the main thoroughfares. In this article, we'll explain why we need this change, how it improves transit for the city, and how to use the new network.
2x
more frequent services in the city center. Buses come every 8 minutes, compared to 16 minutes today
17
high-frequency services in the city center
370
buses, trolleybuses and tramways in the transit network
6
new dedicated lanes in the city center
+39%
more vehicles. This means service is more frequent.
+43%
increase in ridership. This means more people can use transit.
+75%
city center residents within 30-min reach from Lubyanka. This means people living in the city center can now get home more easily.
+117%
jobs within 30-min reach from Lubyanka. This means it's easier to commute using surface transit.
Why change anything?
This is only a part of our efforts to improve Moscow's public transit for everyone. The Magistral is designed to move people around the city center more conveniently.

We want people to rely on surface transit in their daily activities and trips in Moscow so that they can quickly get to their centrally located offices from their neighborhood in the morning, meet their friends for a coffee in another part of the downtown during the day and then return home in the evening — all using surface transit.

To achieve this, all services must be frequent and fast, the vehicles must be spacious and the routes must bring people where they want to go. With the launch of the new Magistral route network, we're making the first step towards this goal.
So what does change?
To make transit in the city center easier to understand, the new network consists of three types of services: high-frequency, local, and specialized.

High-frequency routes are the backbone of our network and are the longest ones. They don't just go to the city centre, but also across it. For example Leninsky Prospekt buses will flow through to Leningradsky Prospekt. In the same way, Luzhniki will flow through to Semyonovskaya, and Nagatinskaya to Polezhayevskaya. The routes are marked with solid lines on the new map and have a frequency of 5−10 minutes. These are the quickest and the most frequent services in the network.

Local routes are shorter and connect city neighborhoods to central Moscow. Use them for shorter trips or to get to a high-frequency service stop. They have a frequency of 10−15 minutes.

Specialized routes help Muscovites reach My Documents offices, hospitals, multiservice centers and other socially important destinations, where these are not served by other routes. Specialized routes have a frequency of 30 minutes or better.

Public transit will be using a fixed-interval schedule from now on. This means everyone will know that a high-frequency bus from Tverskaya to Leninsky Prospekt will be coming every 8 minutes during peak hours, so even if you missed your bus by just a few moments, you'd be sure to see the next one coming in eight minutes.

This experience is very much like the metro train schedule: it exists yet the passengers don't have to know it. You just come to a transit stop, wait a little bit and then board your bus.
Before
After
+ -
How have the routes changed?
We upgraded popular services in the city center to be high-frequency and straightened them out to increase speeds and decrease headways. For example, the former trolleybus service no. 62 from "Udarnik" along the Leninsky Prospekt is now called м4 and arrives every four minutes.

Both old and new numbers will be displayed on vehicles in the next coming months and you can look up the changes on every transit network map in the city center.

We're also improving the traffic patterns in central Moscow so that private cars and surface transit move smoothly side-by-side.

We've also straightened out some routes which previously had to move in circles or serve one-way streets in one direction only. A number of streets was turned two-way for the public transit. It will make it easy to remember what routes you need and where the stops are. Take the bus no. 6: previously, it followed Vozdvizhenka towards the center but went along Gogolevsky Boulevard on the way back. These streets are nearly a kilometer apart! The new м6 now serves the same street in both directions: easy to remember, easy to navigate.

At the intersections with Dolgorukovskaya and Barrikadnaya streets, we recently inaugurated a new dedicated public transit lane crossing the Garden Ring, thus eliminating the need for a 15-20-minutes long deviation which the buses had to do to continue their route.
Any changes to the night services?
With the Magistral introduction, we change two express services: no. 144 and no. 904. Both routes start at Kitay-Gorod, pass Okhotny Ryad, Teatralnaya square and Lubyanka. Next, service 144 turns left and follows Leninsky Prospekt to Tyoply Stan while service 904 turns right along Leningradsky Prospekt and terminates in Mitino.

Night services will also experience some changes. н1, н2, н3, н4, н5 and н6 will all serve Slavyanskaya square, next to the Kitay-Gorod metro station, enabling passengers to transfer and move on to their final destination even late at night. The frequency of the night services remains the same: 30 minutes. Other night routes also remain unchanged.
OK, got it. Any new services?
Yes, we're introducing new services as well! One of the examples is the А bus from the Three Station Square to Luzhniki. You can catch it to go from the train stations to the city center and on along the boulevards all the way to Komsomolsky Prospekt — or even start your Sapsan journey with a bus ride!

Previously, going underground was the only option for a traveler to get from Kazansky, Leningradsky or Yaroslavsky rail terminals to downtown Moscow, which made Komsomolskaya the most crowded metro station ever. Now, you are also able to use surface transit to do this.

However, the А is not completely new as a surface transit route. Back in the 1900s, there was an A tramway service along the Boulevard Ring. After multiple changes, re-routings and cuts it was finally canceled in 1991, only to be introduced again in 1997 in the Eastern part of the Boulevard Ring from Kaluzhskaya to Chistye Prudy. Muscovites informally refer to this tram route as "Annushka". The new А high-frequency bus route serves the Western part of the Boulevard Ring, thus carrying on the tradition of this renowned route.

Another example is the м1, connecting Leninsky and Leningradsky Prospekts via city center. You can board this bus on Tverskaya and take a 15-minutes ride to Gorky Park or continue on along Leninsky Prospekt and get off at Neskuchny Garden.

Using surface transit along the Tsvetnoy Boulevard previously could take you only as far as Trubnaya square, requiring a transfer to the metro if your destination was Teatralnaya or Lubyanka. Not any longer: now you can use the no. 38 for a direct ride from Rizhskaya to Neglinnaya, the Bolshoi, Lubyanka and Kitay-Gorod.

Finally, we re-introduced public transit service along Bolshaya Nikitskaya (look at the м6 from Nagatinskaya to Polezhayevskaya) and Neglinnaya. Some of the routes we are launching now have not been in service since the 1990s.
How do I figure out the new services?
It's simple! All the high-frequency services now start with an M: м1, м2, м3 and so on. They are numbered downwards going counterclockwise:

м1 along Leningradsky Prospekt
м2 along Kutuzovsky Prospekt
м3 along Komsomolsky Prospekt
м4 along Leninsky Prospekt
м5 and м6 along Varshavskoye Shosse
м7 along Ryazanskoye Shosse
м8 along Shosse Enthusiastov
м9 along Prospekt Mira

For this project, we've also created new transit stop signs, maps and bus signs. They will show both the old and the new numbering for some time following the change.

Every stop features a diagram of the new network which you can also download below.
Why are the new services faster?
There are two reasons for that: first, we increased the number of vehicles and second, the routes now go in straight lines and almost exclusively use dedicated lanes.

More buses means smaller headways and shorter wait times. The average headway across the whole network is eight minutes and even less (seven minutes) for high-frequency services.

Dedicated lanes speed up buses and trolleybuses while getting rid of time-consuming detours means arriving at your destination faster.

The Kremlin Ring will be now served in both directions using dedicated transit lanes without forcing the vehicles to go in circles. Previously, you could waste up to 30 minutes having to loop around the Kremlin.
Will you introduce new stops as well?
New two-way service will require stops on both sides of the street. Overall we will create 24 new stops in downtown Moscow, including 12 stops on routes which have not been in service since the 90s.

We will also be upgrading existing stops to be more convenient.
Why bother with surface transit? We have the metro!
Another crucial problem in Moscow are huge distances between metro stations in the city center, being 1600 meters on average. Many areas are within a 15-20 minutes walk from a metro station, which is really a long way for a modern transit system.

In Paris, metro stations are 400 meters away from each other on average, yet the city operates a dense surface transit network in the downtown.

Areas shown in blue on the map are within a 5-minute walk from a metro station while gray areas require walking for 10-20 minutes.
Magistral solves this problem because surface transit stops are more frequent than metro stations and are situated on both sides of the street. Now you don't need to walk too long, just get off at your stop. On top of that, you can use buses and trolleybuses for sightseeing!
What buses will be used?
We purchased 103 new buses for the new Magistral services. These are modern and comfortable vehicles equipped with cushioned seats and air conditioning.
So how do I use the new system?
Just as you did it before: come to the bus stop, find the service on the map, wait 5-10 minutes and get on your bus or trolleybus. All Moscow surface transit tickets are valid on the new routes.

Lubyanka now functions as the main transfer hub for high-frequency services, meaning that you'll be able to get virtually anywhere in Moscow by only changing once at Lubyanka.
Why did you choose these very routes?
Here's what our project team considered:

1. High ridership and density. Transit should be there where people need it the most: in densely populated areas and in the downtown.

2. Walkability. Transit stops should be easily accessible from businesses, landmarks and offices so employees and visitors can walk to the stop.

3. Linearity and symmetry. Transit should run in reasonably straight lines without detours and deviations while stops should be located on both sides of the street you can safely cross.

4. A complete network. Transit routes are not separate products. By making transferring easy through high frequency, we make it easy to get to vastly more places, quickly.
Who was on the project team?
Every transit expert from Moscow had a say during the planning phase: we invited government and prefecture officials, city planners, community leaders, bloggers and urban development consultants as well as internationally renowned advisers with a long-time experience of surface transit planning. These people worked together to design the plan.
Do you understand what riders do now?
The passengers themselves provided the most valuable feedback — their trips.

The actual routing was decided by experts but the whole process was driven by passenger data: key facts about how much and how people use transit were the main factor influencing our decisions.

We collected a terabyte of data on surface transit use: boardings and deboardings, frequency and speed, traffic congestion and use of transfer hubs. Cellular data and tracking data from over 30 sources helped us get a clear picture of how every bus is moving.
To interpret this huge volume of data, we created our own big data analysis system and mapped the stats to identify activity areas: business, entertainment and cultural attraction points. By doing this, we were able to determine how many people live or work in every single area, how they commute, how this influences the traffic, and how we can improve the situation.

For instance, we found out that some surface transit services are busiest outside the Garden Ring but not in the inner city, while others have a balanced ridership along the whole route, expressed in numbers of boardings and deboardings. A balanced ridership pattern shows that the service is in demand and easy-to-use.
What next?
In October 2016, we launched the first project phase. Additional routes, transit stops and buses are coming later with the last phase to be implemented in 2017. We are also improving road marking and introducing dedicated lanes to speed up the traffic.
What's the goal?
By 2017, we plan to attract more riders to surface transit which will become more reliable and easy to use, running predictable services every 5-10 minutes and bringing people where they want to go using comfortable buses and trolleybuses.

We measure efficiency of the change using isochrones — diagrams that show, for a particular place, where you could be in 30 minutes.
Where can I be in 30 minutes?
Existing network
New network
I've still got questions!
We'll be happy to answer them! Please contact the Moscow Transit office or email us at magistral@mos.ru.
Participants: Department of Transport and Road Infrastructure Development, Design of Traffic Management Centre of the Government of Moscow, Jarrett Walker + Associates, Mobility in Chain, Moscow Central Administrative Okrug Prefecture, Mosgortrans, Non-profit Partnership "Moscow Agglomeration Transport Association", Probok.net, State Unitary Enterprise "Research and Project Institute of Moscow City Master Plan", Urbica Design.