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CNN Today

Moscow Struggling to Cope With Growing Traffic

Aired May 23, 2000 - 2:28 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, in Moscow, a familiar American term is taking on a literal Russian interpretation. It's "chaspik" and it means rush hour.

As CNN's Jill Dougherty tells us, Russia may be half a world away, but the headaches for drivers are the same.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 10:00 a.m. at the Beloruski (ph) Station traffic circle. If you are trying to get somewhere fast, you don't want to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's horrible, these traffic jams. We need a cop, we're stuck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): How long will it take me to get through the light? Oh, 10 minutes, 15 minutes.

DOUGHERTY: Actually it took her more than 20. Across town Vladimir says the worst time is chaspik, the rush hour.

(on camera): Moscow is being overrun by cars. Ten years ago this city of 10 million people had just 700,000 cars. Now it has 2 1/2 million, and their number is increasing by nearly 800 cars a day.

ALEXANDR ISHKOV, STATE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION COMMITTEE (through translator): This is one of the paradoxes of our economy's development: on the one hand, there's been economic collapse, but people still have some money.

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): And a lot of pent-up demand.

In the old Soviet Union, even if you had the money for a car you couldn't get one, people waited years: now Mercedes, Japanese cars, Russian cars -- take your pick. Moscow's extensive public transportation system is no match for the lure of driving your own car. But Moscow's paying a price.

ANDREI POLYAKOV, MOSCOW ECOLOGY POLICE (through translator): Eighty percent of the pollution in the city is caused by cars. Some cars have been on the road for 30 years and 30 years ago emissions standards were completely different. DOUGHERTY: Moscow recently completed major ring road around the capital and is now building another one in the center. But the cars and student drivers just keep on coming.

Nowadays, it's normal to have a car and everyone is trying to get his own car, that's the reason.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Welcome to our world.

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