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23 May 2018

Estonia moves toward free public transport

First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com
The government of Estonia is planning to make public transport free across the whole country. The move comes five years on from a successful implementation in the country’s capital, Tallinn. Allan Alaküla, head of Tallinn European Union Office, says: “People in other parts of Estonia started to demand free public transport.”

In an interview with Popupcity.net, Alaküla claims the city centre was crammed with cars before introducing free public transport, and says a rise in parking fees has also helped improve the situation.

“When non-Tallinners leave their cars in a park-and-ride and check in to public transport on the same day, they can’t only use public transport for free, but also won’t be charged the parking fee.”

Free transport, according to Alaküla, mainly appeals to people with lower to medium incomes. However, the transition also encourages higher-income groups to go out more to restaurants, bars and cinemas and thus helps local businesses thrive.

Alaküla recognises the approach is not a universal solution for all European cities. He refers to examples of cities in Poland, Germany and France that have looked at free public transport.

“Municipalities should be brave to use their city as a testing ground to find out what system is realistic for them to implement”, Alaküla adds.