Where and how to use additional funding earmarked for public transport in next year's state budget should be decided by the regional public transport centers themselves, not the Minister of Economic Affairs, said Economic Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu chairman Sven Sester (IRL).
"My position as chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee is that decisions regarding whether to use the additional money to reduce ticket prices or to establish additional bus connections should be made by the public transport center, or, in its absence, by the municipality," Sester told BNS on Monday.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center) provided the standing committee an overview of the current state of affairs in public transport as well as the organization of the additional funding to be made available to public transport next year.
The point on which they disagreed, according to Sester, was the authority by which the decision regarding the use of the extra money should be made.
"The minister's vision is that the decision-making should be done in collaboration with the public transport center, but [the money] should go primarily toward lowering fares," the committee chairman explained.
Sester said that while an agreement in principle exists between the government partners on the allocation of additional funds for the organization of public transport in the counties, both when it comes to the coalition agreement as well as items of funding in next year's state budget, the government does need to reach an agreement regarding the place where the decision regarding the use of the funding is to be made.
Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder told daily Postimees last week that although Simson has every legal opportunity to introduce free rides on county bus lines beginning July 1 next year, no such political agreement on the subject has been reached between government parties.
"The Center Party has been trying to convince the government to move toward it, but the government has not approved it — on the contrary, IRL has been against free public transport," Seeder said.
Editor: Aili Vahtla