Transport companies struggle with congestion ({{commentsTotal}})

Passengers struggled to find a seat in or even to buy tickets to buses and trains servicing popular routes over the weekend. Estonia's largest public transport providers have not managed to solve the problem with overcrowding.

It often happens that going to the Tallinn bus terminal on a Friday or Sunday afternoon, one may find it impossible to get a ticket to the first two or three buses going to Tartu or Pärnu. The situation is not much different on the return leg of the trip.

The trains as well are filled to the maximum on Fridays, Sundays, and even Monday mornings.

National rail company Elron upped its prices by an average of 7-8 percent this weekend. There are routes, however, where the price hike reached 12 percent. A single ticket from Tallinn to Tartu not costs an extra 1.10, reaching 10 euros.

Andrus Ossip, chairman of the board of Elron, told ERR's radio news that the price hike was necessary to launch new routes but in itself is unlikely to solve the congestion problem; the number of passengers is expected to stay the same.

The 2015-2016 schedule is designed to improve service on the lines going towards south west and adds a direct Tallinn-Pärnu-Tallinn service.

Coach services between the two largest Estonian cities operate on a much tighter schedule. Hannes Saarpuu, chairman of the board of Lux Express, said that peak times on Fridays and Sundays can be problematic, but neither they nor other operators have a 100 percent load factor on those days.

Whereas Elron is planning to buy new trains to solve the overcrowding problem, according to Saarpuu, investing in additional buses just with the view to peak times is a luxury the coach operators cannot afford.

"The price of the Lux Express coaches, for example, are 400,000 euros with VAT included. So the investments are large, but we would be happy to add additional departures for Fridays and Sundays," he said.

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