The City of Tartu is reducing the frequency of departures on some of its bus routes in order to cut down on costs. Some locals are concerned, that changes to the frequency of buses on some routes in the city may lead to children struggling to get to school on time on a morning.
The City of Tartu already increased bus fares this summer due to rising gas prices. An hourly bus ticket now costs €1 for Tartu residents and €1.50 for other passengers. However, even this has not provided enough extra revenue for the city to fully cover the costs resulting from price increases. As a result, from Sunday, the number of times per day that certain bus lines in the city operate will be reduced.
"The bus lines, which run most frequently are the ones that would impact users the least (by cutting back on)," said Tartu Deputy Mayor Raimond Tamm. "This was the logic we followed. So, the four routes which depart most frequently were the ones chosen for extensions (in intervals between departures). Extending the intervals by about five minutes on these four lines will save us around €1 million a year," said Tartu Deputy Mayor Raimond Tamm.
So, while before that there were six buses per hour, in future there will only be four. Some routes will also no longer be running later in the evening.
Bus passengers who spoke to ETV show "Aktuaalne kaamera" said, they though the change was inevitable, while many of those with children have serious reservations. Of particular concern is that, even with the current schedule, some of the buses, which take children to several different schools in the mornings are already, more often than not, full.
Siiri, who is a parent to young children, said the bus route is used by "children from the Kesklinna School, children from the Waldorf School, and students and staff from the University of Life Sciences. And it's very difficult to get on the bus, it's already difficult to get on the bus with the current schedule. If the timetable is thinned out at this time of the day, it would definitely make it even harder," said Siiri, who is a parent.
Tartu Municipality has received a lot of feedback regarding bus route number six in particular, leading to an announcement on Thursday that it would run one additional morning service.
Tamm admitted that this was only a partial solution, while the city also stressed that the sparser bus timetable would only be a temporary measure. "Our (long term) goal is still to make public transport more frequent. If, for some reason, gas prices should decrease next year, it is not out of the question that the intervals could be reviewed again from the fall," said Tamm.
Editor: Michael Cole