A new year, 2014, which can bring the people of Kiev presents under the Christmas tree from the municipal authorities, is approaching. Stuffed in a bag at the Kiev municipal administration is a new system for paying public transport fares, which officials plan to launch immediately after the holidays – on January 1. It provides for introduction of a single electronic ticket for traveling on buses, trolleybuses, trams, and the subway. That is, contactless cards will replace the usual coupons and tokens. The cost of the cards will vary, depending on the number of trips. People that use public transport more often will pay less while single trips will cost more.

"There is an urgent need to review tariffs. Considering this, we propose borrowing from international experience the options that are appropriate for Kiev - single trips, wholesale payment, payment by time (75 minutes is proposed for the city), one-month travel cards, and tourist travel tickets, depending on the number of days and group of people. All this will lead to a ticket that allows a passenger the time to make a few transfers and punch the ticket in the 74th minute. This will allow tracking of passenger traffic in various directions in Kiev,” said Vasyl Yastrubynskyi, the deputy director of the Kiev municipal administration’s department of economy and investment and the head of the department’s division of pricing policy.

Technical upgrade of subway stations, bus stops, and train stations will require considerable investments amounting to more than UAH 100 million. as reported, for this purpose the city authorities have held a competition that was won by the Alfa Pei Terminal limited liability company. This company, which is linked to Kharkov-based businessman Serhii Kurchenko, is ready to invest in the upgrading of infrastructure and rolling stock.

No losses during collection How will the city benefit from this innovation? Firstly, officials are speaking frankly about the conveniences for themselves, admitting that they are unable to account for passenger traffic and cash revenues fully and transparently. "The main problems money collection, financing, and the economic stability of enterprises are of several types. These are paper tickets, the human factor, and accounting for transportation of the contingent entitled to transport privileges, which gives us an empirical figure that is not amenable to mathematical confirmation. That is, we really do not know how many passengers we transport. The only way of recording this is an electronic payment collection system," said Yevhen Vodovozov, the director of the department of transport infrastructure at the Kiev municipal administration.

According to Vodovozov, introduction of electronic tickets will also significantly reduce losses from payment collection. For example, for the Kyivpastrans municipal passenger transport enterprise, the expenditures on collection of payments is 43%. "That is, we spend 43 kopecks of every hryvnia in order to collect this hryvnia. The enterprise cannot speak of any economy. People who are not doing the main work eat up half the money. The investor has proposed collecting revenue by installing electronic systems at a cost equal to 8.47% of the revenue. Moreover, it is willing to hire the people that are doing this currently. Accordingly, the burden on our enterprises will reduce and the investor is interested in increasing the revenues of our enterprises," he said.

Prices later However, some of the old control mechanisms will remain for now. New electronic readers will replace the old ticket punches in buses, trolleybuses, and trams. However, there are no turnstiles or other checkpoints in rolling stock.

"For example, you buy a single ticket. It must be activated during a trip. For this, a validator reads the ticket, and the ticket is considered extinguished. Entry is free in some modes of transport and there are barriers in others. Where there are barriers, there is no problem. Visual checks remain in overland modes of transport,” said the Kiev municipal administration’s deputy head Mykhailo Kostiuk. This means that, as before, a controller will check whether a card has been used or not. However, try walking through an overcrowded cabin during peak hours. It is simply impossible. Therefore, the most profitable periods for public transport will remain without proper accounting. According to estimates by the Kiev municipal administration’s head Oleksandr Popov, losses and subsidies to Kyivskyi Metropoliten (the municipal enterprise that operates the Kyiv subway system) and Kyivpastrans total about UAH 1.26 billion per year.

Officials are not announcing any fares, saying that it is necessary to approve a new tariff-setting policy. At the same time, they are saying that they will bring the cost of tickets to economically justified levels

The main motive for promoting the idea was generation of funds from public transport not into the accounts of utility enterprises but directly into the city budget. Acting as the customer, the city administration will, in turn, conduct settlements with carriers. Moreover, the volume of services will no longer be measured in the number of passengers transported. "We have 100% control and the proven cost of the work that should be performed. The city places orders for it and pays for it. This ensures stable and secure operations of enterprises and the city’s control over where the enterprises’ money is spent. Preliminary settlements with Kyivskyi Metropoliten. One car-kilometer costs UAH 20.1. In one year, the subway performs 74.5 million car-kilometers, which gives the figure of UAH 1.5 billion. This includes the scheduled maintenance work,” said Vodovozov. That is, enterprises will not be working for themselves while waiting for payment from the city, which is not always timely.

Officials are not announcing any fares, saying that it is necessary to approve a new tariff-setting policy. At the same time, they are saying that they will bring the cost of tickets to economically justified levels. If they manage to complete all the formalities before the start of 2014, the system will operate in test mode for another six months and will not begin full operation earlier than mid-2014. There is a lot to be done: development and approval of investment plans for next year; holding of public hearings on the new tariffs; submission of the relevant proposals to the Ministry of Infrastructure; drafting and conclusion of agreements on transport operations with Kyivskyi Metropoliten and Kyivpastrans.

In whose interest is the scheme? Some experts suggest that the Kiev authorities should focus on the transportation problems that are more pressing and require immediate solutions today. "This scheme, in all probability, is in the interests of certain individuals who want to make money from it. Today, the city has a large number of transport problems that are more acute and need to be solved here and now. These include raising the efficiency of the existing road network by reorganizing traffic flows and increasing the capacities of intersections by channeling the flow of automobiles; developing the overland public transport, especially in the center of the city; creating a network of transfer hubs with catchment parking lots," Vadym Slobodianiuk, an expert with the Center for Economic and Policy Analysis, told the Center for Transport Strategies.

As an example, he cites the situation on Hrushevskoho Street, from its intersection with Sadova Street to the Chinese embassy. There are five traffic lights located 100 meters apart in this 0.5-kilometer section. The streams of pedestrians crossing there are distributed very unevenly, depending on the time of day, the day of the week, weather conditions, and seasons. This is not surprising because most of them are going for a walk in the Mariinskyi Park. Meanwhile, thousands of cars are stopped every hour despite the fact that pedestrians are not always crossing the road. This problem could be solved quite simply by borrowing from the experiences of European countries - equipping the traffic lights with a signaling system for pedestrians. When a pedestrian intends to cross the road, he presses a button, the flow of vehicles stops after a certain period, and the green light switches on for pedestrians. This would greatly raise the efficiency with which the throughput of the street is used and even improve the environmental situation by reducing exhaust emissions.

"Of the five traffic lights, only one is located at an intersection that has a significant flow of cars (the T-shaped intersection of the Hrushevskoho and Shelkovychna streets). The remaining four traffic lights regulate pedestrian crossings and secondary junctions with no vehicular transit traffic," said Slobodianiuk.