Sunday, October 12, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Russian Officials from Sochi Olympiad Transit Now Working on Kerch Straits

Paul Goble


            Staunton, October 12 – In a development that some will see as encouraging but most as an indication of more troubles ahead, the officials who handled the development of the transportation network for the Sochi Olympiad have now been given the task of improving transit between the Russian Federation and Russian-occupied Crimea via the Kerch Straits.


            The Kerch Straits are critical for Moscow as the main lifeline between Russia and Crimea and have become a bottleneck because any bridge across them is a matter of the distant future, given both the likely costs and the technical problems involved. Consequently, the new body is charged with improving ferry service there.


            At a St. Petersburg conference at the end of last week, Demid Kosteryev, the official who heads this body earlier called the Transportation Directorate of the Olympic Games and now the Unified Transportation Directorate, described what it is doing to coordinate transit at the straits (


            Despite long lines and predictions that ever fewer people would use this route, Kosteryev said, the past year proved that it can become an efficient one for ever more traffic. In the first nine months of 2014, he said, 2.3 million people and 503,000 cars were carried across the straits, figures that are respectively three and five times more than during the same period a year earlier.


            Kosteryev said that his staff anticipates even greater growth in 2015 and to that end will be building larger parking areas, arranging more efficient Internet ticketing and scheduling, and even making Wi-Fi available to those waiting for ferry service. All these things are now in the planning stages.


            In its report on Kosteryev’s speech, the news service, which tracks transportation issues and especially those involving water transit, said that such plans are all very well but that they recall what was done in advance of Sochi: all kinds of good things were announced, but in the end, things turned out, Chernomyrdin-style, like always and not good.




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