Tallinn Deputy Mayor Taavi Aas took questions from online Postimees readers on the capital's new transport system. Here are excerpts of questions, including several from ERR News, and Aas's answers.
I don't have an Estonian passport, but live in Tallinn. Can I ride for free?
Three conditions have to be met for free public transport - you need to register yourself as a Tallinn resident, personalize the farecard (this requires an Estonian ID code) and validate your ticket. (Pensioners 65 and over do not need to have a farecard or validate; they have already enjoyed free service - Ed.)
How can tourists ride public transport in Tallinn under the new system? Will it be more expensive?
Tourists can buy a TallinnCard, buy the ticket from the driver, or load money on to the farecard. Fares will not change in connection with the new system.
The system is gathering a large volume of personal information. What is the Data Protection Inspectorate's standpoint on this?
We are cooperating with the Data Protection Inspectorate. Questions are being answered. We do not intend to manipulate personal data. Existing law provides protection against mistreatment and guarantees personal rights.
Is the selective free public transport's aim to force people to register themselves as Tallinners, so their tax money would accrue in the city of Tallinn's accounts? This might just force me to register elsewhere!
On the contrary, the aim is to provide a service to those paying taxes.
What is the cost of a single validator? How much will the upkeep cost?
Roughly 400-500 euros. There are 570 public transport vehicles with validators. The project was funded by MIMOSA. The annual maintenance cost is 760,800 euros. In comparison, the maintenance costs in 2012 city budget was 1,555,000 euros.
Why did the working, understandable, convenient national ID card system have to be replaced with this rubbish?
It wasn't possible to adopt a working ID card system in Harju County. The new ticket system allows public transport to be better planned through registering trips. Other countries have also made a transition to contactless chips. Unfortunately I don't know of any plans to use contactless chips in the Estonian ID card. Thus we had to choose whether to change our ticket system to be compatible with others or go our separate ways. In addition to the Tallinn farecard, the new system allows other contactless cards to be used in lieu of the farecard - already now. And contactless cards are the trend of the future.
Why do the cards not have the owner's picture, name and other information? This would eliminate the need to carry ID.
This would have significantly increased the price of the card. Riga went down this route is now struggling, with just a few sale points available.
Don't you think that infrequent visitors to Tallinn from other Estonian cities will struggle with the system?
The Tallinn and Harju County combined farecard is a step toward creating a pan-Estonian ticketing system, where the farecard could be used in all Estonian regions. Different regions may have varying discounts for passengers, however.
If I take more than one bus within an hour, the system is automatically supposed to choose the cheapest ticket when I swipe my card [the hourly ticket rather than two separate single tickets – Ed.]. How can I check the balance on my card?
The remaining sum is displayed when you validate. For security measures, balance over 50 euros won't be displayed on the validator's screen.
As a Tallinner, how can I buy a ticket for a friend? Do I validate my own card and then use arrows on the validator to buy a ticket for a friend?
That's right. The arrows control the number of additional tickets and the OK button has to be pressed.
What happens if I am a Tallinn resident and I forget my farecard and/or ID?
The situation is similar to when one forgets their movie ticket. You either go back to get your ticket or buy a new one from the driver.