Rae municipality exploring possibility to introduce self-driving buses

A similar driverless bus which operates in Kadriorg Park.
A similar driverless bus which operates in Kadriorg Park. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The municipality of Rae situated to the south of Tallinn, which recently announced a tender to find the best feasible location for a tram route from Tallinn Airport to the small town of Jüri, is exploring also other ways to increase the use of public transport and reduce daily commuting by its residents to Tallinn by car.

One of the possible options, according to a press release published by the municipality on Tuesday, is the introduction of driverless buses. 

Municipality mayor Madis Sarik and deputy mayor Priit Põldmäe met on Monday with representatives of the company Modern Mobility to discuss the possible introduction of driverless buses in Rae municipality. 

"Rae municipality wants to offer its residents the best mobility service, in order to make transport more accessible to the people and more efficient for the organizer. We want to be the first municipality to take into use driverless buses. The first pilot project could be launched in the rapidly developing and growing Peetri, where we could use this option, for instance, for the transportation of pupils from one school or hobby school to another," Sarik said. 

The mayor observed that in the villages of Peetri and Järveküla several facilities serving as home to hobby schools are situated at a distance of 300-800 meters from one another, which is a suitable distance for the introduction of the novel solution. Self-driving buses could also be used for the transportation of food from food providers to businesses and establishments lacking their own facilities for the preparation of food.  

Rae Municipality borders Tallinn. Source: Google maps

Deputy mayor Priit Põldmäe said that before the need for a tram route is charted, it's obviously necessary to test various solutions that would make mobility as convenient and environment-friendly as possible for residents of the Rae municipality.

"Self-driving buses are definitely a step forward on our long journey towards the creation of a Juri-Ulemiste tram line," Põldmäe said.

Tanel Talve, head of on-demand mobility at Modern Mobility, said that in the future smart bus stops will link up self-driving buses and ordinary buses into a single intercommunicating system. A passenger at a bus stop will be able to inform about their wish for a ride as well as possible special needs both on the screen available at the bus stop as well as via an app on their own smartphone. Outside of peak hours, buses would not constantly operate along the same route but would only start moving when a passenger has informed about their wish for a ride, he said. 

"Also with the planned tram route, the transportation of passengers to the tram stops from more remote regions would be handled with micro buses operating on an on-demand platform, which would increase the possibilities for residents to resolve their mobility needs namely with the help of public transport," Talve said.

The municipality of Rae has announced a public procurement for the drawing up of a sketch project for the Ülemiste-Jüri tram route. The aim of the tender is to find the best feasible location for the tram route in order to significantly increase the use of public transport in the Rae rural municipality and to reduce daily commuting by car.

The course of the work includes analyzing different routes, assessing their feasibility, finding the locations of stops and comparing the possibilities for the technical implementation of the entire route. The estimated cost of building the selected route and depot must also be submitted, spokespeople for the Rae rural municipality government said last week.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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