Tallinn Becomes First European Capital to Waive Public Transport Fares for Residents
Public transport in the capital became free for registered Tallinners on New Year's Day as the city's much-debated reform took effect.
As part of the change, paper tickets and farecards also went out with the old year, apart from the possibility of buying a ticket from the driver in a pinch; mechanical and electronic ticket validating machines will be uninstalled in the first days of the New Year, the city government said.
Along with the e-ticketing system rolled out last year, the ID ticket system will also remain in place for the time being.
In the case of most adults, free ridership of buses, trams and trolleybuses requires that they be registered in the Population Register as Tallinn residents. After that, they must purchase a personalized farecard - the "ühiskaart" - and validate each trip as they enter the vehicle. The farecard is only good when accompanied by an identity document.
In addition, all pupils and students age 19 and under who are listed in the Population Register as residing in Estonia enjoy free public transport in Tallinn.
The personalized farecard is good on Harju County public transport routes, which are integrated with Tallinn's.
A total of 150,000 farecards had been purchased according to last count - as of late December.
City officials have described the reform as primarily motivated by environmental and social reasons. Among other criticisms, some have expressed concern about the 12-million-euro budget shortfall the plan is expected to create.