Public urban transport: from ability to draft strategies to concrete actions. IPN Economic analysis

The assent of the Transport Development Strategy by the Municipal Council of Chisinau (CMC) constitutes the end of the first phase of the implementation of a new transport systematization in the capital, Mihai Roscovan, municipal councilor, director of Business Consulting Institute (BCI), declared for Info-Prim-Neo. At the same time, Roscovan considers that the reform’s implementation will be successful only if the municipality shows will and ability to take upon themselves responsibilities and proceed with concrete actions. The expert claims that the risks and the impediments to the implementation of the Strategy are generally caused by the limited institutional and intellectual skills of both the administrative staff and the municipal councilors. According to him, the Strategy contains long and short term goals, strategic directions and the detailed action plan, which is going to be implemented until year 2010. The document emphasizes 4 main parts: (1) the street network and transport infrastructure, (2) the management of the urban road traffic, (3) the management of the public transport and (4) the subsidizing and protection of the vulnerable layer as well as financing the public transport. The development of the street network and the transport infrastructure requires large investments for the building or modernization of streets, which will discharge the centre of the transit transport and will reduce the circulation time in the region. Also, this goal needs concrete steps regarding the control of the parking lots as well as an improvement in the cooperation between the municipality and executors in order to raise the quality of the road maintenance. The development of the road traffic management is made feasible by actions that would assure the priority of the public transport over the individual one, by the implementation of qualified directing systems of circulation and by eliminating the current impediments caused by the chaotic parking of individual transport. Mihai Roscovan claims that the improvement of the public transport requires a institutional reorganization of the current structure of CMC, by dividing it into 2 services – 1) urban transport management service and 2) communication network direction. The first one is responsible for the planning, coordinating and observing the functioning of the public transport. The efficiency of the public transport system requires the approbation of a normative frame which will secure the participation of private operators at the services. This has to stimulate the development of competition in public transport and apply contractual relations between operators and authorities, based on the market economy rules. In this way, there will be used special payment forms, subsidies and social protection based on the contracts with the operators. The microbuses and taxis will circulate after commercial rules, according to the position in the market segment which will be served, says Roscovan. One of the conditions of the qualified development of public transport is limiting the influence of un-loyal competition within the operators. According to the cited source, this phenomenon is currently is shown in 3 ways: [(a)] disrespect of the quality standards of the services, [(b)] the exaggerated doubling of routes by different operators and [(c)] lack of transparency regarding the number of receipts. To secure a favorable business environment, CMC must delegate the responsibilities of every participant in the transport service, establish clear rules of controlling the obligations and to ensure transparent and fair conditions for all the transport operators. The Strategy stipulates the assent of a clear settlement within the means of examination and approbation of the fares for the urban transport. The lack of such a settlement and a calculation mean can make the problem political and worsen the quality of the service. Roscovan says that the subvention of the public transport will be made only for the mass transport. The main criteria for establishing the number of subsidies are: a) reducing the social costs and b) securing fair physical and price accessibility for all citizens. The number of subsidies offered to the operators will constitute one of the main instruments in competing between the public and the private transport. Maintaining the current degree of the volume of public transport is not only an important goal, but also the basic premise for reducing the social costs and increasing the quality of the transport services. The achievement of this goal is influenced by the cost and the quality of the service. Therefore, when establishing the transport fare, CMC must pay attention to the necessary operational expenses, to the competition with the individual transport and to the paying capacity of the citizens. For the disadvantaged people with reduced income, there will be offered facilities in form of nominative compensations. The amount of the facilities will differ according to income and needs, the largest being limited to 50 trips per month. Mihai Roscovan claims that the risks and the impediments to the implementation of the Strategy are generally caused by the limited institutional and intellectual skills of both the administrative staff and the municipal councilors. The lack of a clear settlement on the transport market, the possibility of obtaining “black” income and the exaggerated political direction of the fare problem, are some of the reasons for the unaccomplished reforms from the field. Taking into consideration that there is less than a year left till elections, it is not likely that the elected locals will take upon themselves such unpopular responsibilities like increasing the fares or switching to nominative compensations. From the candidates’ point of view, it is easier to organize 2-3 pompous events like buying buses or making new lines for trolleybuses. The cost of such events is higher with each year, but the socio-economic efficiency – insignificant, says the municipal councilor Mihai Roscovan. [IPN Note:] The Transport Development Strategy in Chisinau, approved at the end of the week by the CMC, was evolved by the Business Consulting Institute (BCI) and the Technical University of Moldova, with the financial support of OSI/LGI Budapest. The action plan for the implementation of the Strategy stipulates the capitalization of circa 3.4 billion MDL until year 2010. The elaboration of the Strategy was requested by CMC in the summer of 2005, being one of the conditions for the cost setting in the public transport in Chisinau.

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