EU Debates Cafe: How should Chisinau develop its urban mobility
The Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE), in partnership with Privesc.EU and with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, organized on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, the eight #EUDebatesCafe online video conference, dedicated to urban mobility in Chisinau.
The speakers of the event, which was moderated by Stanislav Ghiletchi, deputy director at IPRE, referred to the priority interventions in transport policies in Chisinau, the most important measures to promote compact and connected urban growth, the possibility of increasing mobility without increasing carbon emissions, pollution and congestion, the financing solutions for sustainable urban mobility, as well as ways to improve citizens involvement in the development of transport policies.
Please find below the key interventions of the speakers:
Victor Chironda, Deputy Mayor of Chisinau: “We are now in a situation where we need to do our best by using the available resources to improve the situation. The long-term plans are still in the early phases of development. In the short-term we have three major mobility issues. The first problem is that the urban mobility practices are based on private car ownership. This generates a series of other problems – traffic jams, lack of parking spaces and significant pressure on the infrastructure system and air pollution. The second problem is related to poor public transport infrastructure, which cannot provide quality services thus people are not motivated to use it. This complicates our efforts to encourage the transition from car-focused to multimodal public transport. The third problem is inadequate pedestrian infrastructure and the total lack of alternative transport infrastructure. It is very difficult to move around town by foot, by bike or electric scooters. Our current short- and medium-term goals target development of public transportation, improvement of sidewalk infrastructure to ensure a minimum quality for pedestrians and building of infrastructure for alternative transport. We are currently testing these solutions and I hope to move on to planning and implementing larger projects soon. ”
Cristina Voroneanu, Project and Research Coordinator at Primaria Mea, an NGO: “If we talk about the needs of citizens, I will mention the results of a survey done by my organization before the 2019 local election. One of the questions asked citizens to identify the main issues for Chisinau. Public transport was in top three main priorities identified by citizens. This survey shows that people want to have enough transport units to be able to travel. In particular, this was relevant for the suburbs, as people mentioned that they want to know exactly how long to wait for the next bus at the station. Additionally, people mentioned the importance of comfortable buses that are accessible to everyone, including the elderly or those with special needs. From our experience, we know that after implementing the above mentioned aspects, people tend to become much more positive towards both, the public administration and other citizens.”
Andrei Tudos, civic activist and administrator of Facebook page City for People: “The people of Chisinau need a different mobility policy, the opposite of the one that has been applied so far. In general, the decision on how to travel is taken based on three factors: price, comfort and speed. So, when speed and comfort in public transport are not adequate, people tend to choose the private cars. Or when a cyclist does not feel safe in traffic and wants to get to a place quickly, he/she chooses the car again. Fortunately, Chisinau has a rather good public transport network, but it does need to be further improved and modernized. We need new buses and trolleybuses and dedicated bus lanes for them. We don’t need to look for solutions based in science fiction, such as a subway, but we need to fine-tune and improve what we already have. The steps taken by the local authority represent a positive trend: the development of priority bus lanes, implementation of electronic ticketing and total adjustment of the entire public transport network. But there is also a lot of work which needs to be done, for example, by building parking spaces at the outskirts of the city which would allow people from suburbs to park and then continue their journey on public transport. We should also not forget walking, which is one of the most sustainable and green means of mobility. And, for this we must, as other speakers have mentioned, develop and improve all sidewalks and build access ramps, etc. Finally, we must understand that private car is not the only means of transport within a city.”
Victoria Boțan, representative of the “Motivation” Association, an NGO: “If we talk about groups with reduced mobility, then choosing to travel with your own car is a challenge as many people do not have the possibility to learn to drive such cars equipped for people with reduced mobility. In the area of public transport, we also observe a number of challenges. First of all, the minibuses in the capital are not adapted to the needs of people with reduced mobility. The situation is better if we refer to trolleybuses, but they do not offer coverage for the entire city and sometimes people need to change several buses to reach the final destination. Personally, because I also have a locomotor problem, I can use only the newer trolleybuses, which are better suited for my needs. There are problems with taxi companies as well. Taxis are required by law to have cars adapted for people with disabilities. However, at the moment in Chisinau there are only a few taxi services that have such cars. One of the recommendations is for accessibility to play an important role whenever the local authorities decide to buy new public transport units in order to make sure that all transport is adapted to the need of people with reduced mobility.”
For more details, you can watch the video recording of the event here.
The event was organized within the project “EU DEBATES CAFÉ: Advancing knowledge and expertise on EU institutions and policies in the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by IPRE in cooperation with the Hanns Seidel Foundation in the Republic of Moldova and with the financial support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.