Tartu County Public Transport Centre has decided to introduce free rides on county bus lines beginning July 1.
"We had a general meeting yesterday and it was decided there that we will submit a proposal to the Estonian Road Administration to switch to free transport," Tõnis Piir, a member of the management board of the Tartu County Public Transport Centre, told BNS.
According to Piir, the downsides to implementing free transport were also discussed at the meeting, but it was concluded that it should be introduced nonetheless.
"There were a lot of doubts and hesitations here that were discussed beforehand, starting with how consistent this project is and how long the free transport will last," he explained. "The upside would be that the municipalities would directly benefit from students riding for free, and municipalities could use the money freed up there elsewhere, even for the development of the municipality."
Piir noted that the introduction of free transport on county bus lines would not affect commercial lines, as there were very few such lines operating in Tartu County.
Late last month, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center) signed a ticket price regulation that, beginning in July, will allow for either ticket prices on county bus lines to remain at the same rate or for free public transport to be introduced. Should local pulic transport centers decide not to discount ticket prices or offer free transport on county bus lines beginning this summer, they will partly miss out on additional funding from the state budget meant to be allocated for county public transport.
To date, the Southeastern Public Transport Center, repsonsible for organizing the public transport of Võru and Põlva Counties, Lääne County, Jõgeva County as well as Saaremaa Municipality have decided to implement free public transport.
Harju, Rapla and Lääne-Viru Counties have turned down the option to introduce free public transport.
Editor: Aili Vahtla