The public transport subsidy made available by the Estonian government will increase by €9 million to €101 million in 2019, it appears from the state budget bill that has received the informal nod from the government.
A large portion of the increase can be attributed to the increased subsidisation of bus services.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Centre) said that greater support for public transport services will ensure better mobility as well as reduce motorisation and pollution of the environment. The state subsidies also make movement easier for less well-off residents, the minister said according to spokespeople.
"Thanks to free bus services, the number of passengers on county bus lines grew by 33% on average in August, which demonstrates that ticket price matters a lot to our people," Simson said. "It is definitely our goal to continue with free public transport, and this is reflected in the new budget as well."
The subsidy for bus services will grow from €34.8 million this year to €43.3 million in 2019. Domestic ship, air and rail passenger services under public passenger service contracts will be ensured at 2018 levels at least.
Air services to the major Western Estonian islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa will be given €5.53 million, more than double the €2.6 million subsidy they received this year. The minister described regional air services as one of the priorities for the state in regional development.
An additional €7 million will be allocated to the state-owned airport company Tallinn Airport to improve air connections and support regional airports.
The subsidy for the state-owned domestic passenger rail service operator Elron will total €30.8 million next year. This money will come in addition to Elron's ticket revenue, which in the first eight months of 2018 had increased by 23% on year.
Editor: Aili Vahtla