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Tartu dreaming of tram line, driverless buses, bikeshare system

Tartu is Estonia's second-largest city by population.
Tartu is Estonia's second-largest city by population. Source: (Väino Valdmann)

The Southern Estonian city of Tartu envisions driverless buses and a tram line transporting passengers from one end of the city to the other by 2030, with traffic volumes further decreased by the establishment of a bikeshare system.

Tartu plans on following the lead of Finnish city Tampere, where the decision to construct tram lines was adopted at the end of last year. Based on the latter city's experience, Tartu would have a difficult if not downright impossible time constructing a tram line on its own, which is why cooperation is crucial.

"The key is cooperation between traffic planners, city planners, real estate developers and real estate owners," explained Tampere public transport planner Juha-Pekka Häyrynen to ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

The city of Tartu sees that the need for a tram line exists.

"This car-based transport just doesn't fit [in the city] anymore," said Tartu deputy mayor Jarno Laur. "And if we follow this rule of thumb, then one tram equals three buses, equals 167 cars and about 300 people."

Other plans include the adoption of driverless city buses.

"We are also interested in testing prototypes in our urban space and I believe that something will be coming here in the near future too," noted the deputy mayor. "I think that, in term of time, we're talking about a period of about a year."

A bikeshare system will also be integrated into Tartu's public transport system within the next couple of years as well, offering opportunities of its own in the future.

"We don't need to build docks; we don't absolutely have to attach them to some kind of post," Laur explained, noting that alternative opportunities exist for tracking bikes in the bikeshare system, including apps.

With these planned changes to the public transport system, the city hopes to create a denser cityscape, which would support the development of various services and thus stimulate the local economy.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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