'Olukorrast riigis' expects public transport to consider new reality

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Tallinn city bus. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Domestic public transport needs to consider where people live and work today instead of keeping to routes and schedules laid down years ago, hosts of the "Olukorrast riigis" talk show found when commenting on the National Audit Office's recent public transport audit.

Politicians did not consider the needs and convenience of people or the environmental aspect for a second when introducing free public transport. The only thing they know is that people like it when things are free," Hindrek Riikoja said. Therefore, it would have been surprising had the National Audit Office arrived at a less critical conclusion in its analysis of public transport.

Indrek Lepik cited Valga city architect Jiri Tintera who has explained his actions through the need to consider the fact the city is emptying. "This should also be considered on the county level – in terms of where people work and how to create jobs outside of the capital. And it is what the country's transport network should be, so that we wouldn't have empty buses and that people could effectively commute from smaller places to larger ones," Lepik said.

"We need to consider current needs instead of offering a solution that is free of charge but only works to perpetuate backwardness," Lepik found.

Riikoja agreed, giving the example of Tallinn public transport where the routes are largely untouched since Soviet times, while where people live and work has changed considerably. He also said it is doubtful public transport will be an important topic at local elections in fall.

Lepik said that the only recommendation he can make is for people to be more demanding of their local government. "The fact is that we only have 1.3 million people, a single metropolitan area and four or five cities that form the backbone of the country's economy. The remaining regions should be linked up so people could go to work there," Lepik concluded.

The hosts also discussed the spread of the coronavirus and vaccination progress, as well as Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse's proposal of allowing seasonal workers from third countries to come to Estonia.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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