Tallinn is mulling stopping the sale of paper tickets on buses and will use the summer period, when few tourists are expected, to experiment. The city government has not yet made a final decision.
While Tallinners can use the city's public transport network for free, tourists and people who live outside the city must pay to use the bus or tram.
The annual ticket revenue is a significant amount, approximately €5 million. Bus drivers sell tickets for about €500,000 a year, Andrei Novikov, Deputy Mayor of Tallinn, told ERR on Tuesday.
Bus drivers were not allowed to sell tickets during the coronavirus pandemic and it is currently unclear whether ticket sales on buses will be restored at all. A trial period should show whether there is a need to sell paper tickets on buses in future, Novikov noted.
"We understand that sometimes this need is completely there. Despite the fact that the buses have validators where it is possible to buy a bus ticket with a bank card, the abolition of the possibility of cash settlement is still questionable," he added.
"Since there are not many tourists this summer, it is the right time to experiment when the bus driver no longer sells tickets."
Novikov said a second pandemic discount is not on the agenda at the moment, so that non-Tallinners can continue to travel around Tallinn by public transport free of charge.
"Tallinn's annual ticket revenue is €5 million. If everyone had rode for free, the Tallinn taxpayer would have to compensate it out of pocket. €5 million is approximately half a schoolhouse or one and a half kindergartens that could be built, or ten buses," he said.
In addition to the abolition of paper ticket sales, the city government is also considering creating a better solution so the bus driver would be better protected from the customer even after coronavirus had disappeared.
"In terms of driver safety, we have seen that this has proved its worth, and certainly until we are completely on the same side with the virus, we would like to continue with this system. We are also considering it in future bus procurements so that it would initially be on the bus," said the deputy mayor.
Editor: Andrew Whyte