Public transport use in Tallinn is declining, number of drivers increasing ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Traffic jam on Pirita road.
Traffic jam on Pirita road. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

The number of cars on Tallinn's roads is increasing by 5 percent every year and the use of public transport is decreasing. However, cycling is becoming more and more popular in Tallinn even though the cycling strategy hasn't been implemented yet.

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said that the city is definitely moving towards creating better opportunities for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, but drivers can not be forgotten.

"The question is how much can we limit car traffic in a situation where the number of cars is increasing every year. This is not only a trend in Tallinn but in all major cities in Europe," Kõlvart told ERR.

Road Administration data shows the number of cars is increasing by 5 percent every year. In 2015, the number of cars registered in Tallinn was 140,526, but this had increased to 213,677 by 2020.

The car-free main street project (peatänav) is not a priority at the moment and the submitted design was not realistic, Kõlvart said. However, the city government will move forward with a similar project in the future.

The project's environmental expert and one of the leading experts of Tallinn's Mobility Plan, Mari Jüssi, said the project was one of the most thoroughly studied and involved projects in the last 15-20 years and freezing it was unexpected. She added that the city should work more on lessening the number of cars.

"We see that when the city makes it its goal to reduce the number of cars, then it's possible to reduce driving and in future plans, it is important to consider that the driving will not increase. But the controversy appears when the city says no, this process doesn't satisfy us, we need to let through 20 percent more traffic. But this is what promotes driving," Jüssi said.

Talvo Rüütelmaa, the head of traffic management at the Tallinn Transport Board, said the city has worked to divert traffic away from the city center.

"The Reidi road is one example of directing large transit traffic and also the city's own traffic past the center," Rüütelamaa said.

According to him, the intersection of Hobujaama, Laikmaa and Narva roads is another example where the city has prioritized pedestrians, which significantly reduced the number of cars in the city center.

Tallinn's cycling strategy was accepted two years ago, and according to Jüssi, cycling is becoming increasingly popular in Estonia. At the same time, the use of public transport is declining.

"Unfortunately, the use of public transport as a whole is still decreasing, the use of cars is growing," Jüssi said.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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