Gepubliceerd op 23 mei 2023

Expert Contribution - Beyond the Metro: Inclusive Mobility in Moscow's Big Circle Line Project

Beyond the Metro: Inclusive Mobility in Moscow's Big Circle Line Project.

Moscow recently launched its Big Circle Line (BCL), a subway line that spans over 70 kilometres, earning it the title of the world's longest circular subway line. The BCL was developed to address passenger congestion and traffic congestion by integrating current and planned metro lines, offering passengers alternative routes. This project is just one of the many initiatives undertaken by Moscow to improve its public transportation system and reduce traffic on its roads (Bannister, 2008).

While the BCL is a major achievement in terms of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and providing new transportation options for Muscovites, there are still some concerns about how the system integrates with other modes of transportation, particularly for last-mile connectivity. The BCL does provide connections to other modes of transport, such as buses, trams, and trolleybuses, as well as to bike-share stations (Bidordinova, 2021). However, there may still be gaps in the system that make it difficult for some populations to access the subway system or complete their journey, particularly women, caregivers, and some minority groups who may face additional barriers to accessing transportation (Hickman et al., 2019). Last-mile connectivity is paramount to ensure that all users can access the subway system or complete their journey. Moscow should foster last-mile connections to the BCL with an intersectional approach in mind, involving expanding the city's bike-sharing program, creating more dedicated bike lanes, and improving sidewalks and pedestrian crossings that are accessible and inclusive for all users (Lecompte & Juan Pablo, 2017).

Moreover, it is essential to consider the sustainability benefits and possible shortcomings of the BCL from a social sustainability angle. Safety concerns are a key issue facing the Russian capital, particularly for women and gender and sexual minorities who may experience fear and harassment when using public transportation, especially at night. While the city has implemented gender-sensitive initiatives, such as installing CCTV cameras and hiring more police officers, there is still a considerable gap to address safety concerns (Shakily and Mella Lira, 2022). Measures such as providing safety training for public transit workers, and developing campaigns to raise awareness about harassment
and violence on public transit can help to improve perceptions of safety within and around public transport systems.

To achieve gender-inclusive and sustainable mobility, adopting a feminist geography perspective in transportation planning is critical. This would involve considering the different needs and experiences of men and women when designing and implementing transportation policies and infrastructure. For example, conducting gender impact assessments to identify how transportation policies and infrastructure may impact men and women differently, and developing strategies to address any identified inequalities. It is also important to increase the number of women in leadership positions in the transportation sector to ensure that the perspectives and experiences of women are better
represented in transportation decision-making processes. This can ultimately lead to a more accessible, safe, and efficient transportation system that promotes social sustainability and wider gender equality goals (Lecompte & Juan Pablo, 2017).

Accessibility and affordability are two major challenges facing the public transportation system in Moscow. To improve accessibility, the city could install more elevators at metro stations, equip buses and trams with wheelchair ramps, and design sidewalks and pedestrian crossings with accessibility in mind. However, affordability is still an issue, especially for residents with low incomes, despite the city's subsidies for certain groups. To make public transit more affordable for everyone, alternative funding models such as congestion charges or road pricing could be explored to reduce the overall cost of public transportation (Pereira et al., 2016)

According to Hickman and Bannister (2014), the expansion of public transportation systems like the metro can lead to a reduction in private car usage and direct greenhouse gas emissions. The importance of ensuring accessibility and affordability of public transportation for all users has been highlighted by previous research (Lucas et al., 2016;  Sandoval, 2019). TOD projects have been proposed as a potential solution to address the unequal distribution of services and provide affordable housing and services near transit
stations (Boarnet et al., 2017). Expanding bike-sharing programs and improving
pedestrian infrastructure have also been suggested as ways to improve last-mile
connectivity and create a more equitable transportation system (DeMaio, 2009; Bauman et al., 2017).

In conclusion, the launch of Moscow's BCL marks a significant milestone in the city's ongoing endeavors to enhance its transportation infrastructure and alleviate traffic congestion. However, the journey towards a truly sustainable and inclusive mobility system involves tackling a range of challenges, such as addressing last-mile connectivity, ensuring safety and accessibility, promoting affordability, and mitigating disparities in service provision. To achieve these goals, it is crucial to adopt an intersectional approach that recognizes and accommodates the diverse mobility needs and experiences of all users, including women, caregivers, and marginalized groups, within the unique context
of Russia. By embracing gender-inclusive initiatives and prioritizing the interests of underserved communities, Moscow can forge a path towards a transportation system that is more equitable, accessible, and responsive to the needs of all residents.

In this pursuit, Arcadis stands as a prominent player in the realm of sustainable and inclusive mobility worldwide. With its extensive expertise and global presence, Arcadis (in Mexico and beyond) is committed to advancing urban development solutions that promote social equity, environmental responsibility, and economic prosperity. Our diverse range of services encompasses urban planning, transportation design, and environmental consulting, making us a key contributor to the transformation of cities worldwide. By strengthening partnerships with organizations like Arcadis, cities can leverage their knowledge and experience to build future-ready transportation networks that prioritize sustainability, inclusivity, and resilience.

Author: Luigi Barraza Cárdenas

Urban Planner & Architect - Arcadis Mexico

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