“This involvement is something emotional for me," Prof Michael Horodniceanu told Euronews. "Bucharest is my home town and I would like to use my expertise pro bono to better the city and make it more livable."
A New York transport guru wants to help his native Romania by trying to ease Bucharest's congestion problem.
Michael Horodniceanu, a Romanian-American engineer, will work with the capital's newly elected mayor, Nicușor Dan.
Bucharest is one of the most congested cities in Europe, after Kyiv, Istanbul and Moscow, according to the TomTom Traffic Index. It showed that the time lost in Bucharest traffic amounts to 227 hours a year, the equivalent of 28 days of work.
“This involvement is something emotional for me," Professor Horodniceanu told Euronews. "Bucharest is my home town and I would like to use my expertise pro bono to better the city and make it more livable."
Prof Horodniceanu left Romania when he was 16 and moved first to Israel and then to the United States, where he founded a company focused on providing traffic management and parking solutions in New York.
“The problem in Bucharest is that everyone gets into their cars and drives to [the] city centre," he added. "Imagine the amount of traffic that could be spared if people used public transportation more. The objective is to make public transportation appealing to people."
Prof Horodniceanu, who also teaches at New York University Tandon School of Engineering, believes the city should focus more on pedestrians and less on cars.
Bucharest should develop more bicycle lanes and park and ride stations that allow commuters heading downtown to leave their vehicles and transfer to public transport, he said.
The transport guru said the city was not built for such a large number of cars and must rely more on public transport, bikes and walking.
Prof Horodniceanu, who also worked as a traffic commissioner in New York City, coordinated major road and underground infrastructure projects worth tens of billions of euros for the largest city in the US from 1986 to 1990.
He will offer consulting services to Dan for free and said he got in touch with the newly elected mayor through a mutual acquaintance.
Bucharest is also amongst Europe’s most polluted cities and traffic is a key cause.
Some neighbourhoods in the city this week recorded pollution levels more than 350 per cent above the accepted threshold.
It comes after the European Public Health Alliance issued a report quantifying the monetary value of premature deaths, medical care and lost workdays in 432 European cities due to pollution. The report showed air pollution costs a resident of a European city about €1,250 per year while for a Bucharest resident the cost is more than €3,000.
Brussels has already targeted Romania over air pollution. It launched legal action over excessive air pollution levels in three cities: Iasi, Bucharest and Brasov.