Public Forum: the routes to become short and straight. City’s plan to improve mobility

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During the discussion with City Council representatives, activists, and mobility and street design specialists, Tvoe Misto (Your City) Media-Hub found out how Lviv will implement the Sustainable Mobility Plan and what priority measures the city will take this year to improve its movement.

A year and a half ago, the audience of Tvoe Misto identified mobility and transport in the city as the biggest problem in Lviv. Since then, the media hub has held a series of discussions on the subject, including parking, the launch of the city ​​train, and more. Last year, the city approved priorities for the implementation of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, and recently, a special urban mobility department was set up in Lviv to be responsible for this area. Lviv Now found out how to solve the main problems with mobility in the city and what can be done this year.

In terms of sustainable mobility, the city representatives identified seven challenges and outlined the main objectives for responding to them: traffic safety; comfortable environment for pedestrians; quality public transport; growth of motorization; bicycle as public transport; territorial development and transport infrastructure; weak institutional capacity of the city council.

During the discussion, Oleh Zabarylo, the head of the Department of Urban Mobility and Street Infrastructure of the Lviv City Council, said that this year, the city plans to start implementing an e-ticket. The first changes will be felt by the people who have privileges for the free use of public transport. As of today, 13 January, they can validate their transport cards, but for the following two months, they will also be able to use the usual certificates to approve their right to free transportation. At the end of the year, the system will be fully operational, and the transport network will be changed for this purpose.

The city also plans to arrange parking in the centre – to construct new paid parking lots, to differentiate the cost of an hour of parking at night and during the day. Currently, Lviv is working on the construction of the first interception parking lot, which should be near the racetrack.

«We are talking primarily about the e-ticket and the development of a new transport network. It provides short intervals of minibuses – up to seven minutes. One should know that it takes no more than 7 minutes to wait for public transport. The city budget has provided funds for new boards that will show the schedule of public transport. The main criterion of the new network is that the routes should be short and straight so that there is no duplication,» – he said.

Read also: With pedestrians on the top. What’s Lviv’s new mobility plan?

With the introduction of the e-ticket, the approach to financing all public transport will change. Subsidies for transportation companies «Lvivelectrotrans» and «ATP-1» were calculated according to the indicators they provided. After the introduction of the e-ticket, the city will pay for transportation services. The fee will be calculated per kilometre of road.

Oleh Zabarylo says, the city will control the quality of services provided, and the carrier will be motivated to perform routes, adhere to the schedule. The investment component is already included in the price to be paid by the city per kilometre of work performed, the official assures.

Improvements in public transport will encourage Lviv residents to use public transport instead of private cars. «Lviv has a high level of motorization. The city institute conducted a study and found that 80% of car owners use them every day,» – Oleg Zabarylo adds.

Lviv will deter its residents from deciding to go to the centre by car. In particular, higher parking fees and fines for violating parking rules will be of help. Also, this will be monitored by 120 inspectors.

Read also: Innovative mayor: «You are not stuck in a traffic jam. You are a traffic jam»

«Now, we are inventorying places in the centre of Lviv in order to arrange paid parking. There are no parking lots on Valova street near the Vernissage, so it is appropriate to install new ones. We want to increase the parking fee and differentiate it to encourage residents to park there only at night and in the evening,» – the official explained.

Differentiation of the cost of parking is one of the ways to discourage a person to go by car to the city centre. After all, when a person chooses the type of transport, he is guided by how much time and money he will need to spend on it.

According to Oleh Zabarylo, the city is planning new purchases of public transport. In particular, a tender for 100 new buses has been announced. Also, during the first half of this year, Lviv is to receive seven more five-section «Electron» trams.

Orest Oleskiv, Head of the Transport Department of the Lviv City Council, spoke about key changes in the transport network after the introduction of the e-ticket. They will be fully implemented at the end of this year.

«It makes sense to change the transport network. This will happen in stages. Lviv has a negative experience in 2011, when the entire network was changed at once. And this can force the passenger to abandon the intention to use public transport. Therefore, the changes must be almost imperceptible. The first step will be to provide a free transfer within 40 minutes. It is also planned to change a number of routes to reduce duplication and improve access to remote areas. Routes will be short and will provide transportation to the main routes. We will implement it this year,» – he said.

Ihor Mohyla, the expert of UUPTP project by EGIS company, explained the philosophy of the sustainable mobility plan, in particular for three categories of road users – pedestrians, drivers and cyclists. He also explained what the thesis of the document means that a car is a sign of status, and what threatens Lviv’s «delayed demand for cars».

«In Ukraine, the level of motorization is lower than in some European countries. This is due to lower wages and other factors. But it seems that there is a delayed demand for purchase, that is, if suddenly the people of Lviv become a little richer, most of them will buy cars immediately. However, the problem is not that people buy cars, but in their use: everyone who bought a car uses it every day, and does not ride public transport, bicycle, do not walk. Within the city, the mass use of cars leads to problems with the use of space,» – he explained.

So, according to the expert, the plan of sustainable mobility is a manifesto on how to develop the city’s transport system. If we calculate the total cost per driver, passenger and pedestrian, it turns out that one motorist takes up five to seven times more space in the city than a pedestrian.

«Infrastructure for cars is created at the expense of the city. Streets lead out of green areas and do not build cultural and shopping centres there. From the point of view of city management, owning a car is an expensive pleasure. Regarding mobility, we analyzed measures from the master plan, arrangement of interchanges, new streets, but most of them have not been implemented because it is too expensive. Encouraging the use of public transport is the best way to enable people to move around the city,» – he said.

Ihor Zinkevych, head of the standing deputy commission for transport, communications and urban mobility, said that although a department had been set up in Lviv to be responsible for mobility, he did not see a clear strategy in his work as a deputy. Last year, the commission together with the transport department worked on the most problematic areas in the city, but traffic on them has not improved in a year. Ihor Zinkevych also noted that «Lvivelectrotrans» does not apply for funds for the repair of trams, so some of them stand idle at the depot without leaving for the routes.

«Mobility is one of the factors that investors will be interested in, while developing their business in the city. If the city is congested, it will repel the investor, because it will be difficult for him to build his own logistics. We have congestion problems. We worked on 52 areas where traffic is difficult or accidents occur frequently, but the problems have not been resolved. Only two sections were repaired in a year. Next is public transport. «Lvivelectrotrans» submitted incorrect information at the request of Lviv Now. The company did not apply for funds, so this year, only 30 million is provided for VAT refunds,» – Ihor Zinkevych continues.

However, Oleh Zabarylo added that this year, the company will receive 10 million hryvnias from the city budget, which will be used to repair Electron trams.

Regarding the increase in the cost of parking, the deputy noted that this should not be done. Namely, a person would park a car in an unallocated place, and if it does not obstruct traffic, she will be fined, but the car will not be taken away by a tow truck, and fine may be even less than the cost of a paid parking space.

Engineer Filip Shukhevych says that the city cannot ignore the increase in demand for cars, and must take measures to build transport infrastructure because otherwise, there will be a collapse in 50 years.

Filip Shukhevych has lived in Lviv for more than ten years, before that he lived and worked in the USA, and was engaged in designing transport interchanges. He also worked in Belgium – in the new pedestrian city of Leuven.

«Our city has big problems with mobility. Therefore, if we want to solve transport problems, we need to change the approach to district planning. When the city is planning a large «bedroom» building, it is obvious that people will get there by transport to work, school, and other things. A balanced approach is when a person from Sykhiv can have a job, school, hospital, sports infrastructure and more in the same area,» – he said.

Member of the Board of the NGO «Line» Victor Halchynskyi mentioned the City Express project, to which Lviv was included. He is convinced that the launch of the city electric train will significantly improve traffic in the city, but it is necessary to work hard to implement it.

Read also: No place for drivers here? Examining 7 points from Lviv’s new mobility plan

«Lviv has evolved from an industrial to a post-industrial city. Once the railway ran through industrial zones, and now – through business centres, so it is a sin not to use the extensive railway network. Lviv was still included in the City Express project, and the city can get 10 new trains. The question is how they will be used. You need to integrate this project into the e-ticket system. However, this is not easy, because the railway is guided by its documents when calculating the cost of services, and is not always effective. Contact with the Ministry of Infrastructure needs to be established. We have a chance to improve the selection to Maloholoskivska, Riasne, Kryvchytsia, Lychakova. And this can unload the Vynnyky direction, if we revive the LvivLychakiv track, completing it to Vynnyky,» – Victor Halchynskyi explains.

Read also: 40 dangerous areas in Lviv where road accidents most often occur. Map

Orest Oleskiv says that in 2019, there were meetings to launch a city train. There was talk of tracing the route from Sykhiv to Riasne-2, but as it turned out, it is very expensive.

«There were calculations of the cost of rolling stock infrastructure maintainance. We have reached such sums that are too large for both the railway and the city. There is a huge amount of freight transport at our railway junction. This makes it difficult to establish a passenger-friendly schedule. There is also a problem with different types of current: we have its junction within the railway station, part of the network has no electrification,» – he said.

Ihor Zinkevych noted that the city electric train is almost the only way to improve mobility. Instead, the city is announcing the purchase of hundreds of large buses with internal combustion engines, which will stand in traffic jams.

The head of the Lviv Cyclists’ Association, Matviy Shkotniar, noted that urban mobility is about movement in general, and not just about transport. And although the city assures that the development of cycling infrastructure in Lviv is a priority, the bicycle often remains on the sidelines.

«The bicycle infrastructure in Lviv is the best developed compared to other Ukrainian cities, but we lag behind the Poles, for example. Now, it’s faster to get somewhere by bike. I always go around traffic jams. Those who value time could ride a bicycle or other light personal transport because it is all one infrastructure. But this aspect of our mobility is considered on a residual basis, although in all plans it is presented as a priority,» – he said.

Matviy Shkotnyar is surprised that the city talks about transport but does not talk about moving.

«As for accessibility, I spent the last month on crutches and «checked» the city a bit. This is also for some reason considered on a residual basis. Underpasses are not all duplicated on the ground, any stairs, even some ramps – a problem for people with limited mobility. Urban space should be as flat as possible. Pavement, especially black, basalt, is terribly slippery. In Lviv, almost a third of people have disabilities. So if we make the space comfortable for them, it will be the same for everyone else. There is a lot of slippery tiles in the city centre, even the one that was laid relatively recently. In some places, the sidewalks are occupied by summer terraces, such as near the George Hotel, the parking lot in front of the Grand Hotel, and on Sichovykh Striltsiv Street, the bike path and summer playgrounds are in conflict,» – he concluded.

Victoria Savitska, translated by Vitalii Holich

Photo by Anna Chystiakova

You can read a Ukrainian language version of this story here.

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Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.

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