More people are using public transport in Estonia but it is hard to decipher if this is down to rising gasoline prices or the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, transport companies have said.
County bus lines reported a 26 percent increase in passengers during the first quarter of the year (January-March).
However, it is still difficult to access if this increase is mostly related to gasoline prices or the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions, the Transport Administration's Mihkel Mäeker told ERR.
The number of people traveling by ferry to the islands has also risen to record levels.
"If we add the number of passengers to the big islands, there is a similarly strong trend," said Mäeker.
Coach company Lux Express's board member Ingmar Roos said there was a 10-12 percent increase in passengers in March and April.
"People are likely planning their movements now due to rising costs so that they can use public transport where possible," he said.
Extra buses have already been added to routes for the summer and seats are selling quickly. Tickets for the summer capital Pärnu and Kuressaare on the island of Saaremaa are proving popular.
Roos said the company is trying to avoid hiking fares.
Deputy Mayor of Tartu Raimond Tamm said there has been a 23 percent increase in passenger numbers on the city's public transport. But he reiterated it is hard to pinpoint the root cause.
"It may be partly that people are using public transport more because fuel costs are expensive, but there may be other arguments as well," he said.
This week, fuel prices crossed the €2 per liter mark and have been rising steadily for months. Estonia's gasoline prices are among the highest in the European Union and a reduction in excise duty is not yet planned.
Editor: Helen Wright