The management of Estonia's Transport Administration has decided to establish a fund worth nearly €1 million to help bus carriers cope with the sharp rise in fuel prices.
The fund was launched as a one-time measure to cover the first half of 2022; in the second half of the year, contractual indexations are slated to enter into force for carriers, the Transport Administration said in a press release.
"In the first quarter of 2022, 26 percent more riders used county bus lines than in the first quarter of 2021," said Martin Lengi, director of the Transport Administration's Mobility Planning Division. "This clearly demonstrates that public transport is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and that people have found a cheaper and functioning alternative to using their own personal vehicles."
Considering this trend, the administration finds that a functioning nationwide bus network must be maintained, Lengi said, adding that it does not currently consider it reasonable to reduce bus route volumes at the moment.
"We understand that it may be difficult for many of our partners to fulfill their obligations at contractual volumes in the current economic situation, which is why we've met with all parties in several sectors to discuss mutual concerns and find the best possible solutions together," he explained.
"Just as we've discussed the financing of road construction at length with the Estonian Infra Construction Association, we have also discussed gas price compensation with representatives of public transport centers, carriers as well as the Union of Estonian Automobile Enterprises, as they are providers of high-priority and vital services, the disruption of which the Transport Administration wants to avoid," the official continued. "We have kept our lines of communication open, and carriers always have the opportunity to cancel a contract that is economically unsuitable to them. Nonetheless, not one contract has yet been canceled, in which case we could have begun accepting new offers from the market in order to conclude a new contract.
In 2021, county bus lines in Estonia covered a total of 47 million kilometers; equal coverage is planned for this year as well.
Editor: Aili Vahtla