Head of Tallinn trams asks for drivers' forbearance during roadworks

Gridlocked traffic in central Tallinn, morning of Tuesday, October 18 2022.
Gridlocked traffic in central Tallinn, morning of Tuesday, October 18 2022. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Roadworks in central Tallinn are seeing major disruptions to tram services as drivers often block the lines either attempting to reach their destination more quickly during the traffic jam or, more legitimately, getting stuck while attempting to turn at an intersection.

The problem was so grave Tuesday morning that tram timetables, though not the trams themselves, were suspended as the delays rendered them meaningless.

Meelis Telliskivi, director of Tallinn's tram service, told ERR that: "Often drivers put themselves in their comfort zone and occupy these [tram] lanes, but as this morning showed, many other road users suffer as a result. 

"I think everyone knows that you shouldn't actually drive on the tramlines," he added.

"Surely, all construction roadworks are inconvenient for every ordinary road user, car users and public transport users alike, so the first thing that must be impressed on everyone's mind is to have an understanding attitude, surely. Where possible, ordinary road users should also check their route and ask themselves if this is the only way to get to their destination?" he continued.

"It is certainly possible to increase supervision and ensure that people do not use the public transport lanes, but this is certainly not a solution by itself. Instead, I repeat that one should make it possible to avoid these places, and review your movement trajectories. Tallinn is not such a big city and you can definitely get around some places by car - I don't think it's a big problem at all," Telliskivi added.

Digital journey planners should aid with this, he went on.

The main site of roadworks which has contributed to the issue is detours around Pronksi in central Tallinn, which, since these streets are often smaller than the currently-closed Pronksi, traffic gridlocks during peak times have prompted some drivers to use tramlines or other public transport lanes, exacerbated at junctions.

On Narva mnt, which intersects with Pronksi, trams have been getting stuck due to a temporary left turn sign directing traffic to Kreutzwaldi, which at peak times can see a car waiting to turn left, completely legitimately, on the tramline getting stuck when the lights change and, with nowhere to go, obstructing the tram also.

Telliskivi added that he thought as drivers became more aware of the long-running roadworks in Tallinn – not only on Pronksi and environs but also along another major route, Rannamäe tee – the problem would diminish over time.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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