Capital Region Town Introduces Free Public Transport ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The town of Keila has announced a flash decision to switch to free public transport - but without those potentially troublesome farecards.

The move, set to take effect on February 1, was approved at a city council sitting on Tuesday.

The town of close to 10,000 is controlled by a coalition of the Center Party and the Reform Party. The two are bitter rivals on the national political stage. The Center Party embarked on an ambitious introduction of free public transport in Tallinn - 40 times larger - starting this year. Tallinn's farecards system has met with criticism both over its IT architecture and its practicality.
Keila city government spokesperson Valdur Vacht told that the idea for Keila to move to free transport was not new and that it made good economic sense.

"Keila has only two bus routes and up to this point children, the elderly and social workers rode for free. There are so many who receive benefits that it was more costly to administer a fare system than to allow everyone to ride for free," he said.

The town's transport would therefore be free for all passengers, unlike the Tallinn system, which is free only to registered residents of the city.

The memorandum attached to the bill says that the town currently spends 4,200 euros a year for leasing its validation machines - more than the revenue it receives from ticket sales.

The municipality spends 45,000 euros a year on the bus routes.

Tallinn CIty Government was not slow to hail the decision. Mayor Edgar Savisaar sent out a release today in which he says Keila City Council showed that Tallinn's model is catching on elsewhere and that the model is viable for many local governments.

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