Future coalition wants to abolish nationwide free public transport scheme

Politicians discussed the abolition of the nationwide free public transport scheme on Tuesday and the creation of a new national cycling strategy. This will not affect Tallinn's free transport policy.

Today, transport, energy, and health and social care policies were discussed in the coalition negotiations by Reform, Eesti 200 and the Social Democratic Party (SDE).

Mobility reform will mean the end of free public transport on country lines, said Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) at a press conference. The system currently allows the elderly, children and disabled people to travel for free outside of urban areas.

Instead, a demand-based public transport scheme will be developed, she said. There will also be a new simplified ticketing system.

SDE Vice-Chairman Riina Sikkut said the system must cover social, school and public transport. It must be introduced to areas with low populations to help reduce car use, she said.

Eesti 200 Vice-Chairman Kristina Kallas said there is an agreement to draw up a national cycling strategy that will also be included in all future infrastructure projects.

Speaking about road building, the prime minister said existing roads must be well-maintained and, where possible, expanded into 2+1 or 2+2 roads.

Kristina Kallas and Kaja Kallas. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Coalition to prioritize renewable energy

Kaja Kallas said the new government will prioritize the speedy implementation of renewable energy, including planning processes and grid connections.

Kristina Kallas said the current plan, which will see Estonia cover all of its electricity consumption with renewables by 2030, will stay in place.

In the long run, Estonia should also aim to export electricity to other countries, she said.

The Eesti 200 vice-chairman said an agreement has not yet been struck on exactly which energy sources should be prioritized. More analysis is needed, she said. New climate legislation will also be drafted.

Sikkut, minister of infrastructure and economic affairs, said renewable energy producers need to be assured of the government's priorities and that projects will be green-lit.

Kaja Kallas reiterated that electricity network operator Elektrilevi and shale oil mining company Eesti Energia will be separated. A future merger between Elektrilevi and Elering needs further study, she said.

Riina Sikkut. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Sikkut said a date for ending the production of electricity by oil shale has not been agreed upon. However, declining competitiveness means the end will come at some point.

Social and healthcare systems to be combined

Estonia's social and healthcare systems will be merged in the future, the politicians said.

The aim is to reduce costs and prevent diseases, Kaja Kallas said. Future financing and the role of the private sector were also discussed.

Kristina Kallas said big structural reforms are necessary to provide comprehensive help to people under a unified system.

Additionally, more solutions are needed to help tackle children and young people's mental health, including a monitoring system, it was agreed.

Discussions about family and parental benefits are ongoing.


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Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright

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