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MOSCOW, January 9. /ITAR-TASS/. The first days of the new year in Moscow saw some changes, many pleasant, and some alerting.
Hiked parking prices in downtown are one of the unpleasant news. This is a forced measure, as the number of cars in Moscow has increased more than four times over the last two decades to 4 million. In fact, Moscow's population of 12 million may turn out a couple of millions larger on working days, as many employees resident outside the city commute to Moscow for work.
Moscow traffic jams long ago became a commonplace, so the city administration resolved to take an unpopular measure, that is to increase the price of parking to 80 rubles (slightly less than €2) an hour. The parliamentary opposition party, A Just Russia, is planning to launch a petition for a referendum on the issue. Yet faster traffic in the centre is visible to the naked eye.
To compensate for costlier parking the mayor’s office has been taking measures to better the public transport. Some busy Moscow roads now have special lanes for buses and trolleybuses. Car drivers entering this lane will face a fine of 3,000 rubles (about $100).
This year, 9 new stations will join the existing 190 stations of the Moscow metro, which transports 6.4 million passengers daily. The administration is planning 64 more stations to be constructed by 2020. The double-track mileage of the subway’s 12 lines will increase by 137 kilometers from the current 317 kilometers.
In addition, in 2014 Wi-Fi is to become available on all subway lines.
The new year also promises completion of huge transport projects — reconstruction of several motorways and commissioning of a federal motorway to the international airport Sheremetyevo.
Moreover, the authorities pledge special ‘smart’ traffic lights. The united control centre is to change the operating modes depending on the road situation, which is expected to provide a more effective traffic and reduce traffic jams.
2014 will also see new high-speed trams running up to 80 kilometers an hour, seven times faster than usual trams, mini-trains of five coaches with a walk-through.
Changes for the better are pleasant. Yet the prices disappoint.
From January 1, one- and two-trip tickets for the subway went up 33.3% to 40 and 80 rubles ($1.2 and 2.4), the same tickets for riding surface public transport rose to 30 and 60 rubles ($0.9 and 1.8) respectively.
From November 1, Moscow residents will face an increase of public utilities tariffs by about 7%. Many explain the hike was delayed till autumn ahead of the election of the Moscow parliament — those in power obviously do not want to risk facing public anger. Yet Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has described the looming growth as “an all-time minimum”.
Demolition of old five-story buildings built back in the early 1960s, khrushchevkas, will continue this year. This word was derived from the name of a former Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, who introduced fast pre-fabricated house-building technologies following WWII. About 3 million square meters of newly-built housing is to take their place.
The new year may break records in terms of newly commissioned selling spaces. By experts’ estimates, Moscow will see the emergence of over 500,000 square meters of new retail trade facilities, which is 11% more than in 2013. Besides, over 1.3 million square meters of offices is scheduled to be built, which indicates 40% year-on-year growth.
…Moscow is being constructed and expanded, and it is getting more beautiful. One should not miss a winter stroll along the old Tverskoy Boulevard, the location of Itar-Tass. Its refurbishment was completed late 2013 — the tracery of forged grid now separates it from the road, and the boulevard now boasts new paths and benches. Trees enlaced with LED garlands are enticing admirers from the suburbs in the evening wondering if they have all of a sudden found themselves in Paris or London.
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