Integration of parking lots into e-system proposed

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    A working group presented 15 proposals to quickly resolve the traffic congestion in Ulaanbaatar to Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene on August 30.

During the meeting of the National Committee on Balanced Urban and Rural Development and Traffic Congestion last week, the prime minister instructed the committee to study around 20 issues. This includes opportunities to partner with the private sector in public transport management, the effectiveness of enforcing driving restriction based on the last digits of car license plates, possibility of allowing civil servants to work remotely once day a week, as well as presenting a short-term solution to reduce congestion.

The working group estimates that increasing the number of people using public transportation by 50 percent could cut down traffic jam by 30 percent. To do this, the group views it’s important to renovate the public bus park and introduce high-capacity LRT system with state budget and public-private investment.

The public transport sector has not been renovated since 2009 and 531 buses will be decommissioned in 2021, 121 buses in 2022, 151 buses in 2023, and 60 buses in 2024. In other words, 81 percent of public transport buses will be out of service by 2024. Therefore, the government plans to renew public buses in stages from 2021 to 2024.

According to Secretary of the national committee B.Odsuren, if the number of school buses is increased by 11,000 to 20,000, traffic congestion could be reduced by 2.5 percent to 2.7 percent. It is estimated that increasing the number of public buses for children to 53 and the number of public and private school buses to 227 will reduce traffic considerably.

Ninety-one percent of civil servants surveyed said they would support working one day a week from home. It is estimated that if government employees work online from home once a week, the number of vehicles participating in traffic could decrease by 15,000 to 25,000 per day.

The working group proposed allowing only left-hand drive cars in Ulaanbaatar from 2028, raise the import tax on vehicles used for more than seven years from 2022, and improve loan terms for buying new cars next year.

The study conducted by the working group found that the driving restriction based on car license plates was ineffective. The committee advised to improve its implementation to better tackle traffic congestion.

The working group made the following recommendations to reduce traffic jam quickly:

• Introduce “Electronic Certification” system for vehicles. With the introduction of the integrated traffic management system and electronic vehicle certification, vehicles that have not paid taxes and fees or been inspected will not be allowed to be driven.

• Extend the working hours of public transportation by operating buses from 5:30 a.m. to midnight.

• Ensure the implementation of the driving restriction based on car license plates.

• Promptly resolve traffic accidents.

• Improve and toughen fines for traffic violations.

• Promote the e-Police application to citizens.

• Create car-free streets.

• Integrate parking lots into e-system.

• Open entrances and exits blocking roads.

• Make working hours of organizations flexible.

• Re-engineer road intersections and increase the capacity of intersections.

The working group expects that the implementation of these proposals starting next month will reduce traffic congestion by 13 percent to 18 percent. Over the past 10 years, traffic congestion is estimated to have caused loss of 11.8 trillion MNT, or 4.1 billion USD, in monetary value. According to a survey conducted in February 2021, 85 percent of survey participants emphasized the need to resolve traffic congestion, and raised the need to address issues related to public transportation services and parking spaces.

Misheel Lkhasuren