Transport in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was an important part of the nation’s economy. The economic centralisation of the late 1920s and 1930s led to the development of infrastructure at a massive scale and rapid pace. Before the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, there were a wide variety of modes of transport by land, water and air. However, because of government policies before, during and after the Era of Stagnation, investments in transport were low. The railway network was the largest and the most intensively used in the world. At the same time, it was better developed than most of its counterparts in the First World. By the late 1970s and early 1980s Soviet economists were calling for the construction of more roads to alleviate some of the strain from the railways and to improve the state budget. The Civil aviation industry, represented by Aeroflot, was the largest in the world, but inefficiencies plagued it until the USSR’s collapse. The road network remained underdeveloped, and dirt roads were common outside major cities. At the same time, the attendance of the few roads they had were ill equipped to handle this growing problem. By the late-1980s, after the death of Leonid Brezhnev, his successors tried, without success, to solve these problems. At the same time, the automobile industry was growing at a faster rate than the construction of new roads. By the mid-1970s, only eight percent of the Soviet population owned a car.

Despite improvements, several aspects of the transport sector were still riddled with problems due to outdated infrastructure, lack of investment, corruption and bad decision-making by the central authorities. The demand for transport infrastructure and services was rising, but the Soviet authorities proved to be unable to meet the growing demand of the people. The underdeveloped Soviet road network, in a chain reaction, led to a growing demand for public transport. The nation’s merchant fleet was one of the largest in the world.

JesseWachter