City Transport & Road Pricing Europe 2021: Meet the Speaker – Yaanika Merilo, Government of Ukraine

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With only days to go until City Transport & Road Pricing Conference Europe 2021, CiTTi meets speaker Yaanika Merilo, advisor to the Ukrainian government’s deputy prime minister, who will discuss the Drive Ukraine 2030 project and what’s next for the country’s transport systems.

Taking place on 11-12 May 2021 via virtual conferencing platform Swapcard, City Transport & Road Pricing Conference Europe 2021 will explore the latest developments and technologies shaping urban transportation via four key content themes: road pricing and tolling; emissions and sustainability; congestion and traffic management; and transportation infrastructure.

This two-day online event will see over 20 expert speakers highlight the latest road pricing and tolling projects, discuss intelligent transport infrastructures and present urban mobility schemes being implemented in major towns and cities across Europe, from Ljubljana and Oslo to Brussels and Lahti.

Yaanika Merilo, advisor to the deputy prime minister, Ukrainian government

Name: Yaanika Merilo

Job role: Advisor to Ukraine’s deputy prime minister

Organisation: Government of Ukraine

What is the best thing about your job?
Coming from IT, I believe that the biggest thing you can achieve is to truly make an impact. And in infrastructure you really can. It is all about people, comfort and efficiency, not some vague KPIs but really people who’s life you can impact for better by improving logistics, upgrading airports and railway stations and implementing new technologies to enable more e-services and create transparency and efficiency in time and costs.

What is the biggest challenge for those with responsibility for developing urban transport systems in 2021?
We have very bold ambitions and, if we can meet the targets, it will be really close to an historic achievement. This year we are planning to build or repair 150 bridges, over 5,000km of roads, go forward with massive airport reconstructions, give concessions for new ports, airport terminals and railway stations, implement innovative solutions for road control and launch first concessions of roads. We truly believe in partnerships and the challenge is not only to execute all of this but with the best possible partners and most efficient sources of financing.

What’s your best piece of advice for those looking to implement a new urban transport strategy, such as Drive Ukraine 2030?
To think what you want to leave behind you and be value driven, not forgetting the big picture. It is not just about developing the cheapest city transport, it is also about the environment. It is not just about roads, it is about creating the infrastructure around it, from the internet to safety cameras and weigh-in motion sensors (WIMs). It is not just about declaring support for EVs, but not forgetting the infrastructure and support mechanisms. And while implementing the strategy, do not forget and make compromises with the core values that are behind the strategy. The easiest ways are not always the best. Values matter.

Does legislation help or hinder development in the sector?
Legislation is a huge challenge and even though the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure is driving the suggestions to amend the legislation, it is still up to parliament to vote for these changes. Many of our reforms stall behind slow amendments to legislation, but we have learned how to step-by-step and stubbornly make and demand changes.

How will the transport industry in Ukraine have changed by 2030?
We believe that we will have significant changes by 2030 that will be felt by literally every person in Ukraine. All of the main roads of our 170,000km+ road network will be repaired, old minibuses will have been mostly changed to environmentally friendly public transport, cargo traffic will be redirected from roads to river transport, all main airports will be reconstructed and several new ones built, and innovative solutions as WIMs and tolling will be implemented. We are moving quite fast in upgrading and shifting from our old Soviet heritage to new solutions but it will take time and resources to upgrade everything to a satisfactory level, especially with 40 million inhabitants in the country.

Why are you looking forward to speaking at City Transport & Road Pricing Conference Europe 2021?
I am looking forward to share our goals and priorities and see if we can find some new interesting ideas, approaches and partnerships.

At the conference you’ll also be able to hear from Continental, Transport & Environment, Greenplan, the cities of Stuttgart and Oslo, the European Green Capital 2021 project… and more! You can view the full agenda here. All times are shown in CET (GMT+1). All sessions will be available after the conference on-demand.

For partnership enquiries, please contact Robert Gouge at or by calling +44 (0) 20 8065 0465. For speaking opportunities, please contact Claudia Davidson at or by calling +44 (0) 20 8037 1777.

Meet some of our other speakers at City Transport & Road Pricing Conference Europe 2021… 

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