Sikkut sees no reason to begin special planning for Tallinn bus station

Tallinn bus station.
Tallinn bus station. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Ministry of Economic Affairs sees no reason to initiate a national special planning to solve the problems at the Tallinn bus station, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut (SDE) told Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman (Isamaa) in response to a question about the special plan.

In a letter to Solman, Sikkut said that it is largely the responsibility of the local government, i.e. Tallinn, to determine the most appropriate location for the bus station in a general or detailed plan, and that the state has no legal obligation in this instance. Moreover, Sikkut said that the location of the bus station for regional bus lines is proposed in the detailed plan for the Ülemiste shared terminal.

"As a result, we do not believe that launching a national special planning is justified," Sikkut explained.

T Grupp, the operator of the Tallinn bus station, has petitioned the Ministry of Finance to initiate a national special planning procedure to determine whether the bus station will remain in its current location, and whether the real estate developer's bus parking lot, where an apartment building is planned, should be reserved for buses instead.

Riina Solman, the minister of public administration in charge of initiating special plans in the country, in turn sent a letter from T Group to Sikkut, asking whether the bus station owner's request for a special plan is justified in any way.

Sikkut is correct that the Ülemiste common terminal incorporates a stop for regional buses; however, (Harju) regional buses often arrive at the Baltic station, not the Tallinn bus station.

Long-distance and international lines come and depart from the Tallinn bus station and, as Sikkut herself acknowledged, the Transport Administration (Transpodiamet) is responsible for the planning of long-distance infrastructure.

Sikkut pointed out, however, that Tallinn is opposed to the idea that it should figure out the best location for the bus terminal through its own planning process.

Tanel Kiik, the deputy mayor of Tallinn, told ERR in December that the current situation is quite unusual, as the city should coordinate the organization of public transport between counties despite having no direct legal obligation to do so and no property rights.

The Tallinn bus station recently lost the adjacent bus parking lot after the plot's owner terminated its contract with the bus station's owner, T Grup, in October of last year, and plans to build an apartment complex there. Bus parking spaces are now available in the area thanks to collaboration between Tallinn, bus companies and the bus station.

Airika Aruksaar, the chief executive officer of T Group, told ERR that this is not a sustainable option and threatens the existence of the Tallinn bus station.

"If our current traffic management situation is not resolved, even if only temporarily until a new location for the bus station is found, long-distance access to the station will become so critical that routes will be cancelled," Aruksaar said.

In a letter to Solman, Sikkut said that the current location of the bus station is optimal because it is close to and well connected to the future Ülemiste public transportation hub.

"The location of the existing bus station is also logistically convenient, as long-distance domestic and international services can be offered quickly and without additional congestion," she said.

Sikkut added that although the Tallinn bus station serves a vital role for the state, this does not necessitate the initiation of a national special planning to select the bus station's location.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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