Sergei Sobyanin: 2017 will be the year of the metro in Moscow

Sergei Sobyanin: 2017 will be the year of the metro in Moscow
Photo by the Mayor and Moscow Government Press Service
In an interview with RIA Novosti, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin talked about metro stations that will open in 2017, the timeline for the street renovation effort in the city centre, and how Moscow residents will be surveyed on the demolition of five-story buildings programme.

Question: Mr Sobyanin, Moscow’s road and transport network is rapidly developing. New roads and interchanges are being built, alongside metro stations and pedestrian crossings. The city transit fleet is also being upgraded. What else can be expected in Moscow in the near future?

Sergei Sobyanin: In terms of scale, the year 2017 could be called the Year of the Moscow Metro.

In January, the second section of the Solntsevskaya Line opened, linking the Park Pobedy and Ramenki stations.

In April, the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line received new-generation Moskva trains, which are among the best metro trains in the world.

If all goes smoothly, five stations of the Third Interchange Circuit, from Delovoy Tsentr to the Petrovsky Park station, will open in autumn.

This should be followed by another section of the Solntsevskaya Line to the Rasskazovka station, the Khovrino station in the north of Moscow as well as the extension of the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line to Seligerskaya.

All in all, we are talking about as much as 42 kilometres of track and 19 new metro stations, giving access to more than a million Moscow residents who live or work nearby. Not all new stations will open before New Year. However, we will try to finish major construction work in 2017.

There is also progress in other transport-related projects. More trains will be added to the Moscow Central Circle railway in order to reduce intervals during peak hours down to five minutes.

Double-decker Aeroexpress trains to Domodedovo airport will be launched in summer.

In autumn, a tram ring will be restored on Tverskaya Zastava Square near the Belorussky rail station. In addition, Mosgortrans, the Moscow transport authority, will increase the number of Vityaz trams, which are now used on the line linking Medvedkovo to Ostankino.

More than 10 new overpasses, bridges and road tunnels will be completed across the city in 2017.

Question: Moscow is a huge metropolitan area, and developing it requires major investment from the city budget. Does the city have enough resources to deliver on its current plans? Does Moscow have any plans to ask the federal government for financial support, and if so, what amounts are we talking about?

Sergei Sobyanin: The metro and road construction and transit fleet upgrade programmes are all funded from the Moscow budget. There is currently no need for Moscow to ask for federal help in its urban development construction projects.

At the same time, we have a keen interest in making sure that regional infrastructure projects, including those operated by Russian Railways, the Federal Road Agency (Rosavtodor) and the Federal Air Transport Agency, are also developed.

Above all, this includes renovating the Moscow Central Circle, developing radial lines within the Moscow Railway and building the Central Ring Road in New Moscow, as well as modernising airports. Reconstructing federal outbound motorways in the Moscow Region, mostly funded from the federal budget, is essential for resolving the capital’s transport issues.

Let me remind you that Moscow accounts for more than 20 percent of the national GDP. Even without oil revenues or customs duties, Moscow’s economy has a potential capacity of more than two and a half trillion roubles per year. In accordance with the Budget Code, more than one trillion roubles generated from VAT and profit tax are transferred to the federal budget, while the remaining 1.5 trillion roubles of profit, income, property and other taxes go to the city budget.

Moscow faces a plethora of challenges, but at the same time it has the resources to overcome them.

Question: A new stage has begun in the My Street renovation programme. When will it be completed? When will Moscow’s transformation under this programme end?

Sergei Sobyanin: Generally speaking, renovation of the city is not a programme that lasts just a few years. This is work in progress. In order to ensure that people feel good in the city in 50 or 100 years from now, we will need to plant trees in the streets of Moscow, restore facades and deal with many other issues. Today, we can hardly imagine some of the challenges we will face in the future. For example, who thought about a citywide Wi-Fi network ten years ago? But with smartphones becoming ubiquitous, we now have the task of creating a free network within the Garden Ring, and later bring it to other city districts.

The My Street programme will run for more than one or two years. That said, I do hope that within the next two or three years we will be able to complete the renovation of the key streets in the city centre. After that, we will focus on small streets in order to bring them up to standard. We will also start paying more attention to residential neighbourhoods, where the majority of Moscow residents go about their day-to-day lives.

By the way, we have already identified several dozen key locations, including popular boulevards, squares and street parks in all the administrative areas of Moscow, that will benefit from the same level of improvements as the major streets in the city centre. For example, Yunosti Square will be renovated in Zelenograd, along with Sirenevy Boulevard in the east of Moscow.

Question: Many Moscow residents welcomed the project to renovate five-story buildings. However, there were flat owners who were concerned about the way their opinions would be gathered using the Active Citizen platform, where any person can vote, including those who do not own property slated for demolition. How will the decisions be taken on specific buildings after the opinion of Moscow residents is taken into account?

Sergei Sobyanin: It will fall to the Moscow Government to decide on a case by case basis, but we will do so only when we are 100 percent sure that the majority of people in a given building supports the decision.

The city government has put into motion all the available communications and feedback channels in order to find out what people living in five-story buildings think: there are letters and appeals to this effect in the archives, telephone surveys were carried out and town-hall meetings were organised. Information centres opened in all city councils, where residents of five-story buildings can ask questions and leave feedback about renovation.

Finally, an official vote will take place on the Active Citizen platform and in My Documents integrated government service centres in May. Every resident of five-story buildings will get a chance to vote for or against adding his or her building to the renovation programme. People will be able to make sure that the vote they cast is properly accounted for.

After that, we will do as the majority of residents in these buildings decides.

Question: Issues related to counter-terrorism and security were always essential and highly relevant for Moscow, even more so in the aftermath of the recent tragedy in St Petersburg. Tourists will soon flock to Moscow for the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup. What will the Moscow authorities do to ensure security in the city during these events?

Sergei Sobyanin: To put it briefly, all the systems related to the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup were designed in keeping with strict security requirements. This includes spectator registration, admissions to stadiums, the operation of public transit, hotels, ambulances, etc.

The federal authorities had a positive experience in security during the Sochi Olympics, and the Moscow Mayor’s office has extensive experience in ensuring security during mass events attended by hundreds of thousands of people. This experience will serve us during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

That said, this does not mean that sports venues will get all the attention, exposing other areas. Quite the contrary. Special initiatives to ensure security at sports facilities will build on the everyday efforts by the Moscow police, secret services, neighbourhood patrols, fire fighters and other agencies who work day and night to make Moscow secure and safe for its residents and guests.