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Tartu residents not happy with planned bus network changes

Bus stop in Tartu.
Bus stop in Tartu. Source: Eesti Meedia/Scanpix/Margus Ansu

A lot of work has gone into the Tartu city council's revision of the local bus lines, but the city's residents think that the planned changes fail to take everyday life into account, and that they aren't practical.

The city council introduced the planned changes in a public discussion. The proposed revision of the city's bus lines is based on an analysis carried out with the help of positioning data—but there seem to be considerable differences between the expectations of residents and the planned changes.

Riina Kallas, a member of the local neighbourhood association of Tartu's Annelinn district, pointed out that the revised schedule includes freak arrangements that would require eg. the children of the city's Ihaste suburb to catch a bus a full hour earlier than previously to get to their school in Kaunas Avenue.

"The kids would have to leave home an hour earlier, and once there wait for the school to open," Kallas said.

Urve Kuusk of the Karlova neighbourhood association said that people are worried that they will have to travel through the city centre on every trip, and that there will be no direct lines left.

"The kids can't get to school, the pensioners can't get to Maarjamõisa. The kids in Karlova that attend secondary school in Annelinn would have to travel through the city centre every time." (The bus trip is currently a good 15 minutes, travel time would likely double under the changed schedule; ed.)

Accordingly, Kuusk is anything but convinced that the new schedule actually comes with any advantages for Tartu's residents. The use of the existing infrastructure is less than ideal as well, Kuusk said.

"There is a bridge, but only one line will go across it, all the others will make a detour through the city centre. I don't see any point in travelling like that," Kuusk said.

There are difficulties ahead also for the residents of the city's Tähtvere district. According to Piret Tarto, also present at the discussion, the district has plenty of pensioners who depend on a stable and regular network, and to whom changes to the existing schedule would certainly be disruptive. Another lasting issue is that there is no direct connection to the clinics at Maarjamõisa, a popular destination with the city's elderly.

Deputy Mayor Raimond Tamm said that the discussion had indeed brought out several points the planners hadn't considered, and that the city council will continue to collect residents' feedback for another month.

The aim is to have an overview by the end of the month, and then draw the appropriate conclusions and include the new insights in the next revision, Tamm said.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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