August 17, 2023
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
Colleagues, good afternoon.
Our agenda today includes issues related to the development of public transport. It is clear how important this is for millions of Russians, almost everyone.
It is enough to say that passengers take over 10 billion trips on buses, trolleybuses and trams every year, plus 3 billion on the metro and over a billion on suburban railways.
This is despite the fact that over the last decade we have experienced a real boom in the growth of the number of private cars, and that the popularity of public transit, mainly in large cities, has significantly declined. But this trend is now changing back gradually: more and more people choose public transit as faster, more affordable and more efficient.
Of course, this happens mainly in those cities where all types of transport are properly combined into a single system that is comfortable and popular with residents.
Moscow, the capital of Russia, is such an example, even a standard, one can certainly say. Today, [Moscow Mayor] Mr Sobyanin and I visited the Year of the New Transport Framework exhibition. The Governor of the Moscow Region [Andrei Vorobyov] and the CEO of Russian Railways [Oleg Belozerov] attended as well.
I must say that the exhibition and what is being done in Moscow are certainly impressive, not only the large-scale plans, but most importantly, the capital’s real, visible achievements. They changed the very idea of how today’s public transport in a huge metropolis can develop; in fact, they proved that it can become comfortable, fast, and even high-speed.
We also attended, by videoconference, the opening of service on the Third Moscow Central Diameter rail line. It will connect the Leningrad and Kazan lines.
I realise that, putting it mildly, Moscow’s resources are different from those of many regions in the Russian Federation. This is clear. Yet, the experience that Moscow has accumulated over the years is enormous and useful for all Russian regions, even considering their peculiarities and current needs. But for Moscow, a decade ago, really very recently, the implementation of such ambitious plans (I spoke about this with Mr Sobyanin today) looked like almost an impossible goal, but they started carrying out these plans and they have achieved impressive results.
Life and hard work show that the problem is far from limited to just financial resources, although without money you will get nowhere, this is clear. But still, the result also depends to an enormous extent on a strategic, comprehensive approach, the correct direction for development and on smart managerial decisions. The latter includes a close link between urban planning and transport issues.
I would like to emphasise that this approach is largely decisive for the successful organisation of the modern transport space in both large metropolises, as well as in medium and small cities.
We know cases where people settle in new residential complexes and then sometimes live there for years – I mean years – in isolation from the social and transport infrastructure. It also happens that decades-old transport routes do not meet the current needs of rapidly developing cities.
Often there is no monitoring of the transport service quality or public demand for trips. This compels people to waste a lot of time getting to work, school and recreation facilities, or to medical and social facilities.
The Government and the regions now have specific goals on developing passenger services. One of them is to increase public transit trips. This is certainly a priority which we focus on today. Passenger service is carried out today by over 135,000 buses and almost 15,000 trolley and tram carriages. The public transport fleet in the regions’ capitals totals 71,505 vehicles. It is half that on municipal (suburban) routes even though the demand there is no less and sometimes even greater.
It often happens that some routes needed by the people are simply closed because the buses are beyond repair and break down, while neither the municipalities nor sometimes even the regions themselves have enough resources to fill the gap.
So, our most important goal is to update the rolling stock. Today, the regions are forwarding requests to upgrade more than 57,000 buses, 5,000 trolleybuses and 4,000 trams by 2030, and, given the development of new routes, the need for these vehicles will certainly be even greater.
We must rely on our domestic industry, machine builders and their subcontractors. Of course, I believe that the current production capacity in Russia makes it possible to cope with these tasks, provided, of course, that orders to companies are long-term and properly estimated. The government needs to take such effective measures now.
Let me repeat that our comprehensive task, which we have already discussed, is to ensure an annual reduction in the average age of the public transit fleet in the Russian regions. Public transit in all regions should not deteriorate, but, of course, be updated.
This goal must be achieved by all means. I ask the Government to take the necessary measures.
Colleagues, you are certainly well aware that the operation of public transport is within the competence of the regions. Some regions are capable of ensuring the profitability of this sector and some are not, but of course, it is necessary to create high-quality and affordable conditions for everyone to travel, in cities, towns and villages alike.
Frankly, this is still a difficult task for many regions, first of all, because it requires considerable funding, and of course, they cannot do it without federal support.
As you know, in this year’s address, it was proposed that we use the mechanism of infrastructure loans, in particular, in the amount of 50 billion rubles, to supply buses to small towns and villages. I am asking the leaders of the regions to share information today on how effective these loans are, and whether there are any difficulties in obtaining and using them.
Once again, I would like to emphasise that we must resolve all the problems regarding the renewal and development of public transport without delay.
I would like to hear today, and am asking you to report on the implementation of the decisions we discussed in 2017 with both the Government and at a State Council Presidium meeting. Of course, we know that some decisions have become stuck in the departments. I would like to hear about the reasons for these failures and, most importantly, about the real timeframe for resolving the problems.
Naturally, funding the industry requires special attention. Unfortunately, the shortage of funds is growing from year to year. Therefore, the Government should find, in accordance with the already given instructions, a reliable – and I would like to emphasise – permanent source for funding for the development and the upgrading of public transport in the regions.
That said, we need to take into account the serious requirements of our new regions in transport modernisation, basically, problems that had not been resolved for decades in this area.
I ask the regional governors to explore the possibility of using modern mechanisms, such as private-public partnerships, that are used on a large scale, especially in Moscow.
I would like to draw your attention to a number of other points. In choosing a source of funding, you should clearly formulate the criteria for upgrading public transit. For example, today buses are the only type of transport without an officially established service life. This even sounds strange, but nevertheless, this is the case.
I would like to note that in the majority of territories, public transit drivers’ salaries are lower than the regional average and, of course, the prestige of this job is falling. People are reluctant to take this job. There are also many problems with ensuring the safety of public transit.
I believe the departments in charge of public transport, in cooperation with the regional authorities, should draft measures on enhancing the appeal of these vital jobs.
And of course, today we will discuss the costs of using public transit services. We do understand that people are worried about this – these are direct expenses.
I know that you discussed many of the items I mentioned now at yesterday’s seminars with representatives of the Government and the ministries and businesses concerned. I hope all this was useful.
Let us also talk today about what was said at these meetings. No doubt, it would be useful for me to hear this from you, as well as your take on the entire package of issues.
Let’s get to the discussion.