In October 2021, the CoMoDe project travelled to Uzbekistan for a one-week research, exchange and conference. This event was integrated into a longer fieldwork of our colleague Mariya, who is doing her PhD research on the ongoing public transport reforms in Uzbekistan. Along with collecting valuable and stimulating insights on the transportation regimes in the cities of Samarkand and Tashkent we explored and discussed political, institutional and technical aspects of the transport master-plan, which has been lately developed for Samarkand, as well as prospects and constraints for its implementation.. Together with the St. Petersburg-based consultant transportation company Simetra (which developed the plan) we took part at a conference under the name Planning and Management of Transport Systems in Urban Agglomerations that was hosted by the State University of Transport in Tashkent and with the support of the Ministry of Transport. In our contributions to the conference, we addressed both historical perspectives on public transport development in post-socialist countries as well as the importance of political understanding of public transport and sensitivity towards social issues and local mobility needs during ongoing reforms.
Adding to the official part of our stay, we had the chance to explore in-depth different modes of transportation and their respective infrastructures: we stunned upon soviet metro-stations design, experienced unevenness of the roads on the city outskirts and struggled our way through crowds of people at the Tashkent largest transportation hub. Following that, we had multiple meetings with local civil society activists and transport experts from and outside of Uzbekistan. We had positive encounters with biking and public transportation activists, who care and do their best for the development of a better and not-car dominated infrastructure in Uzbekistan learning about not always easy and legally constrained conditions of their work.