Free public transport successfully introduced in Tallinn (Estonia)
Following a 2012 referendum, on 1st January 2013 Tallinn became the first European capital to provide free public transport to its residents with the aim of achieving significant modal shift away from cars.
During 2012 international attention was drawn to the public referendum in Tallinn, in which 2/3rds of the local residents voted in favour of making local public transport services free. At the beginning of this year, the measure was implemented.
It was made possible by the fact that ticket sales account for a relatively low, 33% share of the income of the Tallinn public transport provider. This means an additional cost of 12 million EUR to the local municipality, which it believes to be worthwhile if it makes people get out of their cars in favour of using the Estonian capital's well developed public transport network.
Free travel is offered to all of the 400,000 Tallinn residents. Non residents still have to purchase a ticket to use any of the city's public buses, trams or trolleys.
Although time is needed to evaluate if the anticipated amount of car drivers really switch to public transport, the measure also aims to improve social cohesion, by providing equal opportunities for mobility for all strata of society. Improved social welfare, safer and calmer streets and cleaner air - this is what the local municipality hopes to achieve with this measure.
ELTIS Urban Mobility Portal, 18/01/13. www.eltis.org