At a meeting on Wednesday, the Estonian government's emergency committee decided to allocate €270,000 from the government's reserve to support bus services and select companies that have organized bus transport for their own employees in Ida-Viru County.
The financial support will provide additional buses to ensure that buses comply with the estimated passenger load factor of up to 50 percent. The support measure is intended primarily for adding buses to Narva and Kohtla-Järve city and county lines for departures with constant overcrowding during the emergency situation.
The government committee also decided to support adding buses to special-purpose employee transport routes for companies in the Ida-Viru County region that provide vital services and services of importance in the emergency situation as well as those that produce basic consumer goods in order to ensure compliance with the principle of a passenger load factor of up to 50 percent.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) said that the additional buses will help spread passengers on popular routes across several buses in order to reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.
"Ida-Viru County is currently under a great deal of attention, and with additional support for public transport, we want to protect the health of the residents of this region," Aas said.
"We to not want life in Ida-Viru County to come to a halt in an already difficult situation, and additional buses will allow people to travel more safely," the minister continued. "We will financially support those companies that transport their employees to and from work if their job is to provide a vital service, a service that is important in the current emergency situation or involves the production of basic consumer goods."
According to Aas, the introduction of a nationwide bus occupancy restriction was also considered, but current statistics indicate that the average passenger load factor of regular buses throughout Estonia has already fallen by over 40 percent and there are generally no issues with adhering to the principle of a 50 percent load factor.
For example, despite the increase in demand, the City of Tallinn has not significantly reduced route departures in order to ensure that there aren't too many passengers on buses during the outbreak and in order to reduce the risk of infection.
"There is currently no need to impose a nationwide passenger load restriction for buses," he said.
In cooperation with local governments and business-owners in the region, the Road Administration is to organize the activities necessary for the implementation of the government committee's decision. In order to restructure public transport in Ida-Viru County and its cities, €270,000 per one-month implementation period will be allocated from the government reserve to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.
Editor: Aili Vahtla