Priit Sauk, head of the Estonian Transport Administration, finds that the air link between Tallinn and the island of Hiiumaa that regularly caters to three state officials constitutes misuse of state funds and a convenience service, which the taxpayer should not be paying for.
It pains me to see Estonia spend a lot of money on public transport, which in some cases is not public transport at all, Priit Sauk, who took over running the Transport Administration last November, said in the agency's magazine Teejuht.
"I have taken a few trips to Saaremaa and Hiiumaa to try out the public transport service and meet with partners. Three state officials flying to Hiiumaa and back constitutes misuse of public funds. We need to out and say that it is a convenience service, which society should not have to pay for," Sauk said.
Sauk also suggested that Saaremaa ferries depart too often during the off-season.
"I visited Saaremaa during the first week of February, with more than half-empty ferries departing every 35 minutes. It is excessive use of public resources. We are in the middle of procuring a fifth ferry, but do we really need it? We may be a bit short on capacity during peak times, while no owner invests based on peak demand," Sauk said.
The head of the Transport Administration added that he hopes the government will eventually become a knowledgeable customer making effective use of its funds.
"We have a long way to go when it comes to lines planning, public transport organization, responsibility and structure," he remarked.
Sauk suggested that the government, as the contracting entity in public transport, needs to be honest and statesmanlike in admitting when there is no demand. "In which case we should not offer trips and flights. Unfortunately, no one dares admit that today," he said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski