The USSR had an extensive and overburdened transportation system. Population and economic activity being highly dispersed, it had to haul five to ten times as much freight to produce a unit of GNP as the United States and Western Europe did. The backbone of the system was the railroads, which operated 147,000 km (91,000 mi) of public track, about a third of it electrified, in 1988; approximately half of the rail lines predated 1917. The absolute volume of freight traffic on the Soviet railroads that year was more than double the United States and Western Europe combined. Ninety-one percent of all ground-hauled freight was moved by rail, as compared to 48 percent in the United States and between 10 and 30 percent in Europe. The government consistently neglected highways and motor vehicle transport, evidently deterred by the cost of building a modern system in so enormous a country. There were 970,000 km (602,730 mi) of public highways in 1988, of which about 90 percent was classified as hard-surfaced. Only 3 percent of Soviet ground freight was hauled by truck in 1988. About 15 percent of all cargo traveled by sea or inland shipping. Aeroflot, the USSR’s one airline, carried a fraction of 1 percent of freight traffic.
Passenger traffic was more evenly balanced. For intercity travel, 52 percent of all travel by common carrier was done by train in 1988, 36 percent by airplane, and 12 percent by bus. Travel by air was most common for long trips and by bus for short trips. Fifty-four percent of all trips abroad were taken by rail, 42 percent by air, 5 percent by water, and 2 percent by bus. Privately owned automobiles, for many years frowned upon by the state for ideological reasons, increased from 1.4 million in 1970 to 15.1 million in 1988, still little more than one-tenth of the U.S. total.
Some 10.6 million citizens undertook foreign travel in 1988. Most of these journeys were to countries in the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe.
The regime relaxed travel restrictions in the 1970s and 1980s, but required that all persons wishing to leave the USSR apply for a special passport document from the police. To do so, they had to describe their itinerary and undergo a security check. The authorities granted foreign passports only if they were satisfied the applicant was politically reliable and had no intention of leaving permanently. "USSR" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
Photos of European countries to visit
Photos of Asian countries to visit
Photos of America