Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has delivered his annual report on the Moscow Government’s performance at the Moscow City Duma. He noted that today marks five years since he assumed this position. During this time the Moscow Government has been actively improving living standards in the capital in all areas.
Urban Development Policy
According to Mayor Sobyanin, the creation of a comfortable urban environment is based on a package of routine activities: quality construction, smooth transportation, effective engineering infrastructure, comfortable public spaces, social infrastructure, open channels of communication between the city residents and the authorities and good conditions for business and investment.
“Our urban development policy is aimed at preserving the existing urban environment as much as possible rather than pursuing infill construction. Instead of concentrating investment and jobs in the city’s tiny historical centre, we are promoting polycentric development and formation of business activity centres beyond the Third Transport Ring. Instead of building impersonal sleeping districts we are promoting the comprehensive development of promising territories where jobs are near residential areas. Instead of reducing budget investment, we are engaging in large-scale construction of transport, social and engineering facilities,” the Mayor said.
He added that the decision to expand Moscow has had a positive effect on the city: investments are being made in the new areas and a third of the city’s real estate is built there — up to three million sq m per year.
“In three years, 80,000 jobs have been created in New Moscow’s business centres, and in production, trade, logistics and the social sphere. These territories are turning from depressed sleeping suburbs into balanced urban neighbourhoods,” the Mayor said.
Mayor Sobyanin said that transport is Moscow’s second most urgent problem. It can be resolved through prioritising the development of public transport (metro, railways, surface transport and taxi service), putting traffic in order, road construction and improving pedestrian access. We have also eliminated chaotic parking, illegals kiosks, stalls and ads.
“The Moscow programme for the transport system is one of the largest in the world. Its implementation would be impossible without the support of the President, the Federal Government and comprehensive work on all city transport hubs,” the Mayor said.
According to Mr Sobyanin, the development of the Moscow Metro is one of the main areas of this work: “During the past five years, the Urban Development and Construction Complex has been engaged, often to the limit of its capabilities, in the intensive construction of 18 metro stations, of which 15 are already open for passengers. Most importantly, we are already well ahead of the game for the next few years,” the Mayor said.
About 30 new metro stations will be opened before the end of 2018, including the first stage of the Third Interchange Circuit," the Mayor said.
The appearance of dedicated lanes helps develop surface public transport. Today they are being used by one in four passengers: about 1.5 million people a day. Buses and trolley buses travel faster and on schedule.
“Moreover, the separation of the flow of public transport and private vehicles has increased the capacity of exit motorways, because the right lanes have been freed from chaotic parking of cars, sometimes in two or three rows,” the Mayor said.
The renovation of the rolling stock has also made public transport more popular. Transport fares have not been adjusted for inflation. “The cost of one metro or bus ride is 35 percent less today than it was in 2010,” the Mayor said.
The city government has also found reserves to expand the scale of road construction. The projects were maximally cost-effective, timeframes were reduced and efficient contractors were brought in.
“Major construction work is in progress at Novoryazanskoye, Novorizhskoye and Yaroslavskoye Motorways and the motorway leading to Domodedovo Airport. The problem of exiting the city hassle-free is being addressed, albeit not without effort,” he said, adding that the focus now is on ensuring the interconnectedness of neighbouring districts. New roads, tunnels and interchanges are being built to this end.
During the past five years, the total length of city streets and roads has grown by 10 percent. Over 400 km of roads, 112 flyovers, bridges and tunnels and 139 underground passageways were built between 2011 and 2015.
Eight outbound motorways were upgraded, with 150 km of designated public transport lanes and 350 laybys. Ten interchanges on the Moscow Ring Road were constructed or reconstructed.
The majority of city courtyards, school stadiums, parks and pedestrian streets were upgraded over the past five years. This included over 20,000 courtyards, where additional parking, children’s playgrounds, recreation facilities and areas for walking pets appeared, and shrubs and trees were planted. Amenities were also provided in 400 green areas, including 80 large city parks, 20 public gardens on the Garden Ring and 161 new neighbourhood parks, among other things.
“Together with the new amenities and green areas improvement, the trend of recreation in the open air, which seemed to have disappeared forever, has returned to Moscow. The number of Muscovites who spend their leisure time in courtyards and parks has grown exponentially,” he said. In particular, the number of visitors to the VDNKh (National Exhibition of Economic Achievements) and other city parks has grown more than four-fold.
Five years ago, the Moscow Government set the goal of reforming educational management and funding, and upgrading the material basis of educational establishments, as about 30 percent of preschool children did not attend kindergartens and there was a gap in the teaching quality at elite and ordinary schools.
The reform resulted in kindergarten and school construction, updating their equipment, and the establishment of major new educational institutions.
As the Mayor acknowledged, not all of these measures were approved from the start. However, improvements came fairly soon, especially where the merger of schools was concerned.
“Leading educational complexes could afford top-notch teaching teams as the average monthly wages of teachers rose by 80 percent to 70,000 roubles a month and practically every school started to provide another two or three subjects, which were taught as part of an extended curriculum,” Mr Sobyanin said.
The transition to per capita financing and the 50-percent increase in funds helped schools attract new pupils and improve education.
“The number of preschool children in Moscow has increased by 50 percent. All Moscow children from two years and eight months on have guaranteed kindergarten accommodation and there are no problems with the enrolment of first-form pupils,” Mr Sobyanin said.
He added that educational reform has almost finished — the new funding and remuneration system operates smoothly, the best schools receive the awards that they deserve, and the quality of education has improved significantly.
“Today, we have twice as many students with excellent marks across the board and children winning academic competitions, and twice as many schools in the national list of Best in Education than before the reform.”
The updated medical standards allowed to cut the average length of time that patients spend in hospital by one-third. Hospital treatment has improved spectacularly and life expectancy has increased by three years in the last five years to 77. The heart attack mortality rate in hospitals has decreased by 66 percent, and the mother and infant mortality rate has dropped by close to 30 percent thanks to upgrading maternity wards and the establishment of pathological pregnancy and baby intensive-care wards. Moscow now ranks on par with the majority of European countries in these respects.
Moscow has hit five of six public health improvement targets posed by President Vladimir Putin as part of his resolutions in May 2012. Particularly, it has increased its healthcare allocations by 50 percent. “Hospital and outpatient-clinic funding should depend on the work volume and quality. Financing must follow the patient. This is not a pattern of our invention but rather a federal law,” the Mayor said.
With outpatient-clinic mergers, the city has received major high-tech diagnostic and treatment centres. Online doctor’s appointments have doubled access to computer tomography and boosted access to magnetic resonance tomography by 270 percent.
“The waiting time for an appointment with a rare specialist has decreased several times over. It takes a few days to get a surgeon’s or cardiologist’s consultation now compared to the previous standard of two to three weeks. We are absolutely open and so is the EMIAS system. You can look up the waiting-list time at various health centres and select your chosen day to see a doctor,” Mr Sobyanin said.
The latest hospital and clinic equipment meets high European standards.
Despite the economic situation, Moscow continues to fulfil all of its social commitments. Moreover, budget expenditures for the social sphere keep growing.
“For the past five years, most social welfare institutions have been thoroughly overhauled. New social services have been introduced for war veterans, including ‘the alarm button’, the at-home health resort and the nursing service. The additional targeted aid embraced over half-a-million people who actually need it,” the Moscow Mayor said.
Teamwork with citizens
The way that residents communicate with public authorities radically changed after launching the My Documents network of state service centres. They provide 152 services and release over 200 kinds of documents. A total of 70,000 people visit these centres daily.
“Modern means of communication laid the groundwork for solving another important problem, such as organising a direct dialogue with the people, without which it is impossible to manage the city,” Sergei Sobyanin said.
For example, the Active Citizen online referendum system enables city and local opinion polls to be organised. Thousands of people take part in resolving pressing issues facing the city within the crowdsourcing project.
Muscovites help control the operation of city services with the help of the Our City portal. Over 610,000 online users are registered. “I am grateful to Muscovites for their active attitude, for their help in managing our city, which we love and which we are proud of,” the Mayor said.