The Hiiumaa municipal government wants the state to increase the number of departures on the Rohuküla-Heltermaa route connecting Estonia's second-largest island to the mainland by 120 beginning this year at an estimated cost of €76,600.
"In recent years, the quality of the Hiiumaa ferry connection has significantly improved thanks to the purchase of new vessels and the dredging of the Rukki Channel," Hiiumaa Municipal Mayor Reili Rand wrote in an application submitted to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. "Still awaiting a solution is the departure of at least six trips from both directions at the same time the year round, the need for which the community of Hiiumaa has been signalling for years but for which a financial opportunity has not yet existed."
According to the winter schedule, which runs from January until the end of March, there are five departures per day from both ports on the Hiiumaa route; the total increases to six at other times. Extra departures are also on the schedule on Fridays and Sundays year round, when demand is greater.
The municipal mayor said that stable departure times year round would ensure the smooth and reasonable flow of both business owners' supply chains as well as the transport of passengers.
Ms Rand said that the long-term changing of departure times that comes up ahead of ice conditions brings with it a situation in which already developed logistics plans do not work in the first quarter of the year.
She also noted that a five-departure schedule would mean a significant increase in the expenses of Hiiumaa residents both in terms of time and money. For example, according to the winter schedule, there is a 4.5-hour gap in the connection between the island of Hiiumaa and the mainland in the afternoon.
The municipal mayor said that the new ferries and the dredging of the Rukki Channel have meant increased transport security, which in turn has resulted in an increase in the number of passengers on the route. For example, last December, the route served 3,181 more passengers and 1,456 more vehicles than in December 2017; the route saw 15 more departures as well.
Ms Rand said in the application that the travel fee on the Heltermaa-Rohuküla route in the fourth quarter of last year totalled €654.93 and, considering prior practices, the six-departure schedule has been applied from the 13th week of the year.
"Thus, in order to service with six departures from the beginning of the year, it is necessary to increase the carriage volume by 120 departures, which, considering the travel fee in the fourth quarter of 2018, would be as follows: €654.93 x 120 departures is €78,600," she calculated.
Based on all of the above, the Hiiumaa municipal government has proposed increasing the state order on the Heltermaa-Rohuküla route by 120 departures from 2019, the financial cost of which according to the aforementioned calculations is €78,600.
Editor: Aili Vahtla