Competition watchdog wants to look into bus stations' activities

Tallinn Bus Station. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Competition Board has received complaints from bus operators regarding unjustifiably high bus station fees over the years. The board has made a proposal to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (MKM) to look into the economic activity of bus terminals.

The board said it has received several complaints that bus station operators are charging too much in the way of fees. The situation is further complicated by the fact that several large bus stations are owned by coach operators. While the board lacks nationwide data, at least three bus stations are known to have ties to coach operators.

The agency finds that bus station operators usually have a dominant position on the market and are not allowed to misuse their position by charging coach operators unjustifiable high fees.

A situation where the owner of a bus station also operates buses could constitute an attempt to oust the competition, the watchdog finds.

Spokesperson for the Competition Board Maarja Uulits said that bus station developers have asked the board whether including planned costs in the bus station fee is legal, while bus operators complain of high fees and have asked the board why they should stop at bus stations in the first place.

Uulits added that the board has deemed it unnecessary to get involved so far or demand bus stations provide detailed overviews of their expenses. The reason for the board turning to the ministry this time is tied to supervision. Even though the Public Transport Act obligates the bus station operator to ensure equal conditions for carriers, the law does not prescribe who should monitor compliance. "The law also fails to specify which costs can be included in bus station fees and which not," Uulits said.

The agency recommends Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas put together a bus station fees special regulation, similarly to those in place for other natural monopolies. The simplest measure would be to obligate bus station owners to keep separate books for bus station expenses to tell them apart from the entrepreneur's other activities.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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