What Indian cities can learn from Moscow


In 2011, Moscow confronted a crisis: its roads had reached capacity, leading to some of the worst gridlock in the world. In response, the city government developed a comprehensive transportation plan. Its strategy for future construction projects to add traffic and transit capacity would be guided by data and complemented by the launch of an intelligent transport system.

Controlling thousands of traffic cameras, road detectors, and traffic lights, the system monitors traffic in real time so that accidents and disruptions can be handled immediately. At the same time, Moscow made major changes to its parking policies and invested heavily in modernizing its subway and bus service. The results have been impressive. Although the city has added a million private cars since 2010, average travel speeds through the city have increased by 13 percent.

Moscow has used data to improve the passenger experience and shape its transit investment, adding new routes when necessary. In addition to monitoring roads, the intelligent transport system collects data on how passengers get on and off buses and where routes bog down. This kind of information has been used to develop new bus routes based on real-life commuting patterns, eliminating line changes for thousands of workers. The city also installed a smart closed-circuit television system to ensure passenger safety in the metro system. In addition to detecting unusual crowds and abandoned items, it includes facial recognition capabilities to identify criminals.

Trains run at frequent intervals at peak times, and the system provides passengers with real-time information about arrivals. As a result of these efforts, some Muscovites have shifted away from driving to taking public transit. The number of full-fare trips taken annually increased from 1.9 billion in 2010 to 2.8 billion in 2017. The city intends to be responsive to residents’ concerns and requests. In addition to the thousands of suggestions and complaints fielded by two service centers, the city fields’ comments and questions through social media. It has also developed a transportation app to help people plan routes, pay for parking, and find bike rentals; it has been downloaded millions of times.

Having succeeded in restoring mobility to a gridlocked population, Moscow is now aiming to remain a global leader in mobility. It is continuing to apply analytics to transit data and passenger feedback as it looks for ways to improve the system, and it is experimenting with innovations such as wearable ticketing technology and pushing personalized route information to individual metro passengers. The city also has plans to phase in more electric vehicles over time to improve air quality.