The Estonian Transport and Road Workers Trade Union (ETTA) has contacted the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications on behalf of bus drivers in Narva seeking to have ticket sales halted on bus lines serving summer cottage areas and adopting other restrictive measures, as even prior to the beginning of the season, these buses are already overcrowded, and passengers are mostly older people, who are considered at-risk for the coronavirus.
"We are writing regarding the major concerns of Narva bus drivers," wrote ETTA board chairman Üllar Kallas. "Bus drivers are currently required to sell and check tickets while operating bus routes serving [Narva's] so-called summer cottage areas. The entire country is currently facing a major shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). In the current situation, the employer is unable to supply bus drivers with the appropriate PPE, leaving the bus drivers at risk."
He proposed immediately halting ticket sales on Narva bus routes serving the city's summer cottage areas as well as restricting passenger access to the bus driver's working area, beginning with the first row of seats.
The head of the trade union also highlighted the fact that these bus routes are used primarily by the elderly traveling to their summer cottages, and that in spring and summer they are frequently overcrowded.
"Speaking with bus drivers, it turned out that they are already sometimes carrying 60 passengers or even more," Kallas wrote. "As the summer cottage season ramps up, the number of passengers will increase significantly. In the current situation, this is essentially a viral bomb."
He has requested that the ministry consider serious measures for reducing the aforementioned risks. Similar letters were also sent to Narva city government and bus operator ATKO.
In Tallinn, for example, Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS (TLT) implemented protective measures for public transport drivers on March 12 already.
In connection with the spread of the coronavirus, ticket sales directly from the driver were halted on TLT buses, trams and trolleys. Passengers likewise cannot board via the vehicle's front door, and a sanitary zone was implemented for the driver extending from the front door to the front row of seats.
Tallinn public transport tickets can still be purchased via contactless card payments on bus, tram and trolley ticket validation machines, online, or via mobile phone.
Editor: Aili Vahtla