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Foresight Center: Estonian car use doubled over past 20 years

Traffic in Tallinn.
Traffic in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The use of a personal passenger car for commuting has nearly doubled in Estonia over the past 20 years and transport costs account for 14 percent of people's total expenditure, a report to be published by the Estonian Foresight Center last week shows.

"Using a private car has grown first and foremost at the expense of traveling by public transport and on foot," Foresight Center expert Uku Varblane said. "Estonia has thus risen to among the most car-centered states in the European Union in a short time."

Access to jobs also often depends on whether or not the person has the opportunity to use a personal car.

"The car has thus also become an unavoidable cost, which may take a significant chunk out of a smaller income," Varblane said. "At the same time, car-centered mobility is inefficient, it wastes a lot of space and negatively affects the living environment and the health of the population."

The share of people using public transport for commute has been in constant decline meanwhile, reaching 18.4 percent in 2020, lower than the share of 20.6 percent measured a year earlier, significantly below the 25-percent target set in the transport development plan for 2014-2020 and also lower than the base level of 22.6 percent in 2014.

Estonian people's average transport costs have doubled from €428 in 2012 to €859 in 2019, according to the report. Vehicle acquisition and maintenance costs have tripled from €166 in 2012 to €489 in 2019. The average costs per member of a household meanwhile have only grown 69 percent.

The Foresight Center's final report on the study project "Future of Mobility" will be presented online at 11 a.m. on May 25 on Facebook at 4 and on the website https://bit.ly/3wnr3sz.

The Foresight Center is a think tank at the Chancellery of the Riigikogu that analyses long-term developments in society and the economy. The Center conducts research projects to analyze the long-term developments in Estonian society and identify new trends and development directions.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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