Moscow may ask drivers to pay for centre access: plan

20th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Authorities in the Russian capital have proposed to introduce a congestion charge for entering Moscow's centre in a passenger car, a document on the city government website said Wednesday.

Gridlock in the city of 10 million has gained global notoriety as car sales exploded in recent years while Moscow constructed few roads and introduced practically no public transit improvements.

The idea to make access to the centre payable is floated in a document published by the Moscow government on its transportation department website. The document outlines a strategy for developing public transit in Moscow in the years 2011-2013.

One measure to prioritise public transit on Moscow's congested roads is "introducing a fee for passenger cars entering the city centre," the document says.

Moscow was ranked the fourth most "painful" city in the world for commuters by an IBM study this summer, after Beijing, Mexico City, and Johannesburg. The average reported traffic delay in the capital is 2.5 hours long, according to the study, which polled thousands of drivers around the world.

Lack of parking space in the center pushes commuters to park their autos on pedestrian sidewalks, making it difficult to walk, and crowding space reserved for ambulances and fire trucks.

Failure to handle Moscow's congestion, which traffic police estimates to cost about 40 billion rubles (1.3 billion dollars) annually, has been one of the main criticisms of former mayor Yury Luzhkov, who was sacked by President Dmitry Medvedev last month.

If carried out, the scheme would match those successfully implemented in big European cities such as London to limit access to overcrowded city centres.

© 2010 AFP

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