Tallinn Deputy Mayor on Buses, Politics and Potholes
In an interview with uudised.err.ee, Tallinn Deputy Mayor Taavi Aas said that the city is hoping to cooperate with surrounding municipalities and the state to extend the free public transport service.
Aas said Tallinn would gladly extend bus routes to nearby local governments, and allow residents of those municipalities to enjoy the perks of free transport, if the local governments were willing to co-finance the project.
He said an agreement is in place with Viimsi, which is partially serviced by Tallinn's buses, but other municipalities, like Maardu, do not have the means to participate.
The city is cooperating with the Ministry of Economic Affairs in creating a more efficient park and ride system, which could allow residents of neighboring municipalities to use Tallinn's public transport for free, Aas said.
Another project is to synchronize buses with inter-city rail lines, allowing the city to cut the number of buses near rail lines.
Elections or bust
Answering a question whether the free transport project has paid off, Aas said that the city has attracted 11,000 new residents. If 1,000 residents roughly means 1 million euros of extra income in taxes to a municipality, Aas said, the city has pocketed 11 million euros.
Income from ticket sales was around 12 million euros last year, Aas said.
“We began the project [of free transport] before elections, and had it failed, we would have failed too. It was a conscious move so that voters could evaluate at the October elections: do they or don't they like it,” Aas said.
Potholes and euro cash
The deputy mayor said that the Ülemiste interchange project has cost the city 36 million euros over the past three years, and after its completion this fall, those means can be transferred to road upkeep.
Aas said he agreed with the Road Administration's comments from a few months ago - the agency said EU funds had made many larger projects possible, but co-financing requirements meant that state and local governments have diverted money from maintenance into those projects.