Ministry Criticizes Resident-Only Fare Discounts
Municipalities that offer cheaper public transportation only to registered residents of their jurisdictions are violating the general principles of equal treatment, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has said.
Ministry spokesman Rasmus Ruuda was quoted by Postimees saying that such behavior goes against the ideas of the Public Transportation Law and EU principles, particularly if the sole purpose of the discount is to entice people to register as residents of a particular area. In Estonia, each such registration brings more national tax money to local coffers.
The ministry's criticism comes in the run-up to Tallinn's referendum, scheduled for late March, on whether to make the city transportation free for city residents as of 2013.
Tallinn already offers lower fares to its residents. For instance, a person living in Harju County pays as much as 4.5 euros less for a 30-day travel card.
Meanwhile, the municipal government of the island of Vormsi is planning to give its registered residents discounts on ferry rides to and from the mainland.
Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder, who has received a number of complaints regarding such cases, said that the practice does not go against the Estonian Constitution but most certanly infrignges EU legislation.