Tallinn Bus Station owner seeks state special plan for the area

Tallinn Bus Station.
Tallinn Bus Station. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Tallinn Bus Station operator T Grupp turned to the Ministry of Finance seeking a state special plan that could be used to decide whether the bus station will remain where it is and whether a current buses parking lot owned by a real estate developer could be reserved for buses in the future.

The owner of the buses parking lot, Liven Kodu 17 OÜ, terminated its contract with T Grupp on October 31 and plans to construct a nine-story apartment building in its place, seeking to change the intended purpose of the plot with a detailed plan in the works.

T Grupp finds that both the central and municipal government should intervene. Estonia should lay down the area of the bus station with a special plan, while Tallinn should in the meanwhile suspend the process of changing the plot's intended purpose and the entire detailed plan.

T Grupp's lawyers wrote in a letter to the Ministry of Finance in October that constructing an apartment building in place of the coaches parking lot is not justified and that the plot should remain registered as transport land and reserved for buses, as leaving coach operators responsible for finding parking would create traffic chaos.

"Inability to park buses on the Juhkentali 48 plot and buses consequently getting stuck in Tallinn traffic will make it objectively impossible to continue operating long-distance and county lines," the letter reads.

T Grupp finds that the continued operation of the Tallinn Bus Station is a clear national interest, which is grounds for a state special plan that could be used to map out everyone's interests.

Buses parking where possible

Every bus operator has been in charge of finding parking since the lot has been off limits for the purpose, and while temporary solutions have been found, they are not sustainable and threaten the existence of the Tallinn Bus Station, Airika Aruksaar, executive manager of T Grupp, told ERR.

She said that she has seen various companies' coaches parked in the parking lots of the Ülemiste and Sikupilli malls, Tartu maantee Circle K gas station and the Ülemiste campus. Aruksaar remarked that should it be deemed unnecessary to resolve the situation, at least until a new location is found for the bus station, continuing to operate the station in recent fashion will become impossible.

The owner wants the bus station to remain where it is and has been looking to reconstruct the area for a long time.

A sketch of the new bus station. Source: HG Arhitektuur

"The Tallinn long-distance lines bus station has been at Lastekodu 46 since 1965. It is a habitual location for passengers, sits on the edge of the city center and sports good links to other city districts," Aruksaar said, adding that the city of Tallinn has said as much.

Tallinn has not gone along with plans to reconstruct the bus station, while the Transport Administration has shown little interest in the station's fate, Aruksaar said. Tallinn has not launched a detailed plan as it wants the bus station area to also host a park in the future, which T Grupp hardly holds possible.

Tallinn's hands are tied

Tallinn Deputy Mayor Tanel Kiik said that the capital's arm is not long enough to solve the problem, which would not exist in the first place if Estonia had not sold the bus station and its parking area to private owners.

Kiik said that he believes such strategic public transport hubs should be owned by the government or Tallinn. "But the central government decided to privatize the area and we now find ourselves in a somewhat peculiar situation where the capital must coordinate long-distance public transport organization in a situation where it has no legal obligation to do so nor owns a single property in question," Kiik told ERR.

The deputy mayor added that the city has reorganized parking in the area to facilitate bus traffic.

"Rather, operators have adjusted to the situation. The question in the long run is how much parking will be retained at the current bus station and how much will move to the Ülemiste terminal. Several interdependent decisions are needed here," Kiik suggested.

However, determining the [parking lot] area's intended purpose is up to the city government and council.

Public administration minister to consult economic affairs counterpart

Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman (Isamaa), in charge of state special plans, has sent a letter to Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut (SDE) to ask whether the bus station's owner has any legal grounds to seek a special plan.

Solman wants Sikkut to say whether the location or operation of the Tallinn Bus Station is a matter of overwhelming public interest and whether the economy ministry or the Transport Administration can afford to initiate a special plan.

The public administration minister also wants to know whether the plan would even be feasible as the Ülemiste joint rail and bus terminal is also meant to host long-distance coach lines.

Airika Aruksaar said that there is no reason to believe the Ülemiste terminal could service all lines.

"As things stand, the Ülemiste terminal is to have six bus stops meant for city and county lines servicing the rail terminal. The Tallinn Bus Station today has three arrival and 15 departure stops for coaches. Therefore, we see no way how the six stops at Ülemiste could even theoretically cover long-distance and international lines demand."

Both Tallinn Bus Station and operator T Grupp are owned by businessman Hugo Osula's Mootor Grupp AS that bought the bus station as a bankruptcy estate in 2000. The company sold the coaches parking lot at Juhkentali 48 in 2006 to finance the renovation of the station's main building. The plot was acquired by Mermer Arendus OÜ that wanted to erect an eight-sorey building in its place. The developer went bankrupt in 2015, with the Juhkentali 48 bankruptcy estate acquired by Liven in 2020.

According to its website, Liven wants to construct a building with room for "no fewer or more than roughly 111 homes" on the site. "We cannot reveal everything yet, but should our plan succeed, there will be larger and smaller, taller and cozier homes here," the project's website reads.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Marcus Turovski

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: