Authority: Public transport ridership up, exceeding pre-pandemic levels

Passengers getting on a free #70 county bus to Antsla at Tartu Bus Station. May 13, 2022.
Passengers getting on a free #70 county bus to Antsla at Tartu Bus Station. May 13, 2022. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Figures for the first half of 2022 indicate that public transport ridership in Estonia has not just recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but is now even exceeding pre-pandemic levels, the Transport Administration said Tuesday.

"The use of public transport remained on the rise in the second quarter of this year as well," Mihkel Mäeker, director of the Transport Administration's Public Transport Department, said in a press release. According to the official, several factors are involved in the increase.

"On one hand, the relaxation of COVID restrictions," he explained. "But on the other, increasing motor fuel prices certainly play a role as well."

In the first quarter of 2022, county bus transport ridership had increased 26 percent on year; in the second quarter, ridership was up 36 percent.

In all, more than 5.8 million riders rode on county bus routes in the first six months of this year.

Estonia's ferries, meanwhile, saw passenger numbers last quarter equaling the second quarter of 2019, the year before the pandemic reached Estonia. On year, ferry passenger numbers increased by 9 percent to 704,506.

According to Mäeker, the proportion of passengers eligible for local resident discounts saw the biggest increase.

The transport official also highlighted the increasing popularity of flights to the major Western Estonian islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa — with the number of passengers flying to the islands increasing 101 percent compared with the second quarter of 2019 and 51 percent compared with the second quarter of 2021.

A total of 9,852 passengers took advantage of Tallinn's air connections to the islands last quarter.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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