Free Transport Boosts Passenger Count by 1.2%, Says Study ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

A freshly released study suggests that use of public transportation in Tallinn has seen only minor growth, a mere 1.2 percent for buses, since it was made free at the beginning of this year.

The controversial policy is costing the city and taxpayers around 12 million euros in ticket revenue, reported Eesti Päevaleht.

On the other hand, other reforms, such as new bus lanes and more frequent running times, may be more efficient for increasing use of public transport: the latter two are credited with growing the passenger count by 2.8 percent, the study finds.

Led by Oded Cats, a researcher at Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology, the study relied on data from the newly installed electronic ticket reading machines. Paper tickets were used prior to the adoption of the electronic system, which cost around 4.6 million euros to install.

The best way to reduce the number of cars on the streets, Cats reckoned, is to increase parking fees, road taxes and fuel prices.

Meanwhile, city officials have said the free transport policy has attracted thousands of people to registering as Tallinn residents, as the ticket waiver is for the most part available only to registered residents. Those new registrations will increase the share of income tax revenue allotted to the municipality, which is part of the city's stated strategy for paying for the scheme.