Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Free public transport successfully introduced in Tallinn (Estonia)

Wikimedia commons

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

Friday, January 11, 2013

Free buses cut congestion in Estonian capital city.

Tallinn Plans More Bus Lanes as Free Transport Takes Effect

Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

At a press conference on Wednesday, Tallinn Deputy Mayor Taavi Aas announced that the city would create more bus lanes next spring or summer.
Last year the city was criticized, even threatened with legal action, for its controversial traffic changes, some of which came overnight. The transport department squeezed major roads in the city center, painting them over with the word "bus" in an effort to give public transportation elevated status.
"I promise that this time around we will give advance notice when there are changes. We will not do it abruptly again," Aas said.
According to Aas, there has been a noticeable decline in traffic intensity in the first nine days since Tallinn adopted free public transport for its residents on January 1. He said that in the first week there was a 15 percent drop in traffic intensity compared with the months of November and December. Also, he said, there was a 6 percent rise in use of public transportation.
So far, 174,000 Tallinners have acquired the new electronic farecards and personalized them to show proof of Tallinn residency. Pensioners, who ride for free even if they aren't Tallinn residents, purchased an additional 49,000 farecards. Tallinn has a population of 420,000.
Tallinn ran out of the new farecards soon after January 1, and has ordered a new shipment of 50,000 due to arrive next week, and another 100,000 in the week after.
In a given day there are 445 buses, trams and trolleys in operation in Tallinn.

Estonian Public Broadcasting: News. 10/01/13