The Pärnu County Public Transport Center (PÜTK) and several municipalities are eyeing a pilot project to extend regional bus lines to Latvian cities, newspaper Pärnu Postimees reported on Tuesday.
PÜTK manager Andrus Karpuk said they have a "mad" idea to test regional bus routes connecting two countries by tapping into EU Interreg funds. Häädemeeste and Saarde municipalities are interested in the proposal.
In Saarde, the bus would depart from the new Kilingi-Nõmme bus station and proceed along the restored Jäärja-Mazsalaca road, potentially connecting Kilingi-Nõmme with the Latvian towns Mazsalaca, Rujiena and Valmiera. In Häädemeeste, the bus would go to either Ainaži or Salacgriva.
Surveys will now be carried out to understand timetables and frequencies.
Karpuk said EU money could be used to test whether such connections are needed and when they would be used.
The Pärnu regional public transport center would not participate in the venture alone, but together with the rest of the public transport centers along the border. In the case of the twin cities of Valga-Valka, for example, the creation of a single system of urban buses, which was shelved in 2011, is under discussion.
Karpuk said that so far, everyone has welcomed the idea of a cross-border bus service. The head of the Latvian transport authority has said that current legislation would not allow the lines to be extended, but this could be changed.
A cross-border bus service would expand the opportunities for both work and leisure between the countries.
In order to find out how interested residents of the border areas are in the extension of the bus routes, PÜTK and the municipalities have prepared a questionnaire that can be filled in until the end of January.
The questionnaire for the municipality of Saarde is already available on the municipality's website, while the questionnaire for Häädemeeste is not yet online.
The call for proposals for Interreg funding will open in the third quarter of next year.
Editor: Helen Wright