Paid parking project in Moscow – was it worth state funding? 

Paid parking project in Moscow – was it worth state funding?
Photo: Photo: ITAR-TASS / Artyom Geodakyan

More than three years have passed since the paid parking system was introduced in Moscow. How much money has been spent on this project and has the city budget received any reimbursement?

In Moscow, it is now easier to go on foot than to drive a car. By the end of the 2000s, the issue of traffic jams had escalated so much that the new mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced the fight against them as his main goal. However, the city administration did not know where to start. The only person who kept his head on straight was the co-owner of the Aeroexpress company and the future founder of the paid parking system Maxim Liksutov. Even at that time, the young businessman already took the 189th place in the list of Russia’s richest people. Citing an unnamed source in the Moscow Mayor's Office, RBC reported that it had been Liksutov, while still the CEO of Aeroexpress, who had offered to count up the available parking spots in the capital. He assigned that monitoring task to the McKinsey company. Now the organization itself remains stubbornly silent on this matter, and Liksutov, as usual, recalls nothing of the sort.

In the fall of 2011, the results of monitoring predictably showed congestion of all highways. McKinsey then prepared a set of rational solutions to the problems. What could be more rational than to make people pay for what was free? The "roads are not for the poor" principle was supposed to be implemented via either paid parking or a paid entry into the center of Moscow. Liksutov, who would head the Department of Transport in the same year, chose the parking system.

Money is not an issue

In the fall of 2012, the first parking lots appeared on the Karetny Ryad and on the Petrovka Street. The location was chosen carefully, to provide for a long-term goal. There were few residential buildings in these streets, which meant little dissatisfaction. The experiment turned out to be fruitful and was taken as a rule. The first tenders demonstrated the scope of the upcoming changes and their cost. The tender for the installation of the first 150 parking machines worth 73 million rubles was won by the NTC Izmeritel Company. The client was the Department of Overhaul Maintenance (DKR), headed by Pyotr Biryukov. This agency regularly holds other tenders for the improvement of the Moscow streets and the structures close to Biryukov are making a fair living out of it. By some mysterious coincidence, the contractor cared little about the streets while connecting parking machines to the grid, destroying the brand new tiles laid by Sobyanin’s workers, which made the total cost of the installation four times more expensive.

When the scandal with the 200% rise in the price of the parking machines broke out, Liksutov still managed to use it in his favor. The head of the Department of Transport offered to purchase the most modern and technologically advanced parking meters, equipped with solar batteries. Since that time, the paid parking system went under Liskutov’s full control, which made the new tenders even more expensive.

Максим Ликсутов

Maxim Liksutov. Photo by Artem Sizov / Gazeta.Ru 

Liksutov’s agency created a state public institution Administrator of the Moscow Parking Space (AMPP), which organized all the following tenders for the expansion of the paid parking zone. In 2013, the area was expanded up to the Garden Ring, with plans to equip it with the Parkeon parking meters (France). The three tenders for 350 parking machines (number 1number 2and number 3) were won by the newly formed Aspark company. By that time, Aspark had been on the market for about six months. It was if the company had been created specifically to win the AMPP tenders, because it had not participated in any other contests. Meanwhile, AMPP had other favorites, and the parking would not be enough for all of them. The next stage of the parking zone expansion was carried out by CJSC Sitronics-KASU. The company won a tender worth 279.5 million rubles for the installation of 444 parking machines within the Third Ring Road. Curiously, the requirement specifications for that tender involved the Parkeon machines. According to RBC, the company’s representatives confirmed the delivery of 444 parking meters to Russia. However, the official distributor of Parkeon in Russia was still Aspark. We will explain the matter futher, when we return to the origins of Aspark. For now, we will focus on another example of unprecedented generosity.

Pro-bono, meaning free of charge

During the construction of the so-called flat parking lots, AMPP distributed a variety of gifts, from the budget money to the land owned by the city. In the autumn of 2014, AMPP held four tenders for the creation of flat parking lots. The winners turned out to be the companies, which had little in common with road construction. Neftegazstroy won the first two tenders worth over 638 million rubles (number 1, and number 2), and Turbomash won another two (number 1, and number 2). The value of the contracts for Turbomasha exceeded 400 million rubles.

In the spring of that year, AMPP held tenders for the design of those same flat parking lot and electrical grid for them. The total value of contracts exceeded 227 million rubles. Contractors were to build 57 of the 103 designed parking lots. Through simple calculations, we may establish that the cost of a single parking lot was more than 17.5 million rubles. It would seem that everything was going according to plan. But public procurement is the sphere where miracle reigns supreme. According to the blogger ezhick, 18 of the 57 future parking lots had already been constructed even before the tenders were concluded. Later, this information was confirmed by RBC. Thus, AMPP had already handed over more than 315 million rubles to Neftegazstroy and Turbomash. If we add the forged design plans to this amount, we will get almost 500 million rubles. However, this was not the end of the story. As one would expect, the contractors failed to fulfill the contracts even for the remaining 39 parking lots. AMPP filed lawsuits against Neftegazstroy and Turbomash, but lost both cases. On top of all, legal mistakes made by AMPP helped Neftegazstroy gain more than 72 million rubles.

A similar thing happened before. For example, AMPP gifted the land for parking to the famous Metropol Hotel. The agreement on joint activities between AMPP and the owner of Metropol, the Okhotny Ryad Deluxe Company, stipulates an absolutely free transfer of the land plot for flat parking. At the same time, the plot with the cadastral number 77:01:011008:077 is absent on the Public cadastral map of the Russian State Register. How could a land plot that did not belong to anyone get in the hands of AMPP? That was how the land in the heart of Moscow was captured by Metropolis owners, despite any common sense. AMPP is eager to make generous gifts, and Liksutov seems to approve of such behavior.

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Who benefits from parking innovations?

The introduction of paid parking system was posed as a fully beneficial project. Surely, Muscovites would benefit the most. After all, it is under their "sincere requests" that the paid parking zone keeps expanding. According to Vedomostiby the beginning of 2016, the Moscow mayor's office had spent a total of 16 billion rubles on paid parking. Maxim Liksutov categorically refuted the data of the newspaper, which faithfully referred to the Department of Transport itself. Liskutov claimed that the costs amounted to only 7.4 billion rubles. Apparently, the official is not interested in the purchases made by AMPP (accountable to the Department of Transport), which managed to spend 12 billion. Of this sum, only about 700 million rubles were spent in 2016. More than 1.9 billion rubles were spent by the beginning of 2016 on the salaries of AMPP employees. We can continue speaking with numbers, but it seems they are speaking for themselves.

A decree of the Moscow Government "On stimulating district councils of Moscow" was adopted in 2012, which promised that the profit from paid parking would go to the said councils. The AMPP press service told Vedomosti that in 2014, their agency had transferred 2.09 billion rubles to the city budget, and in 2015 - 3.45 billion rubles. The answer to the simple question "where is the money?", Alas, are not happy. In 2014, all councils of the Central Administrative District proudly published the photos of playgrounds, repaired balconies, and others things, all the way expressing gratitude for the paid parking. However, a year later, when the flow of money increased, the direction changed. The majority of funds was allocated for the Moya Ulitsa (My Street) project, which Muscovites hated almost more than paid parking.

The masses were disgruntled, but someone was still pleased with the outcome. And here is where we get back to the distributor of Parkeon machines, the Aspark company. According to the data provided by the Professional Market and Company Analysis System, in 2013, when Aspark won the tenders for the installation of parking meters, its owners were Andrey Arefiev, Alexander Menn, Irina Morozova, LLC Emaht, and Sonya Sokolova. To date, only the first three remained. Among all six of them, we are interested only in the Emaht company. At that time, one of its founders was Dmitry Tolstenko. For some period, he was even its CEO. When Tolstenko was employed at the company, the subsidiaries of Emaht, according to RBC, received state orders that were directly related to the Moscow Department of Transport. Mutual attraction between Tolstenko and the Department of Transport has a very simple explanation.

In the past, Tolstenko had the pleasure of working with structures, led by Maxim Liksutov. For instance, another CEO of Emaht Artem Dedov previously served as deputy director general of the company Dalmostostroy. The corresponding entry can be found on his LinkedIn page. In the mid-2000s, Vedomosti reported on the purchase of Dalmostostroy by structures controlled by Transgroup, where Liskutov had a 25% stake before civil service. The direct owners of Dalmostostroy were shareholders of Novosibirskavtodor, where Liksutov was a member of the board of directors. Despite the fact that Liksutov and Tolstenko claim they do not know each other, Tolstenko previously took over as the director general of a certain Elara LLC. The founder of Elara was the chairman of the board of directors at Novosibirskavtodor Dmitry Pingasov. Could Tolstenko work so closely with one member of Novosibirskavtodor without knowing anything about the other member of its board? The answer is all too obvious.

Thus, the young and promising Liksutov is in no way different from Biryukov. He simply has greater financial appetite, and that helped him overshadow his colleague. That is also the reason why the purchases made by the Department of Transport revolved around likeminded businessmen, young and hungry. But most importantly, they are all familiar with Liskutov. Back in the native, he is even called a transit millionaire. Could it be that paid parking brings loss instead of revenue because their supervisor is staying here only for some time?

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