North-Estonia Public Transport Centre decided on Thursday that it will be terminating its public transport contract with bus operator Atko, beginning the process of replacing the carrier in Harju County's Harku Municipality, daily Postimees writes.
Transport centre director Vello Jõgisoo told the paper that in order to terminate contracts with the bus company early, certain specific requirements must be fulfilled and the company has to have committed two major infractions.
One more extreme case took place just this week, he noted, when a bus driver who had worked for 16 hours was caught behind the wheel of an Atko bus.
Speaking on Vikerraadio's morning program on Friday, Jõgisoo said that difficulties with Atko first began two years ago already, but have continued to escalate since. "We have issued citations, and we have requested plans for improving the quality of the service, but they've simply remained on paper," he said.
"Now Atko isn't even responding to our phone calls," he added. "The majority of their promises are unfulfilled."
Terminating the contract and finding a replacement carrier will likely take time, however.
"We certainly have to ensure safe transport for our riders, but we cannot overlook the fact that Atko is serving over half of Harju County transport," Jõgisoo said.
He anticipated that the termination of the contract will end up in court. Atko did not agree to canceling the contract by common agreement, as it did not wish to pay more than €30,000 in contractual penalties.
Atko Liinid OÜ currently serves west- and eastbound public intermunicipal bus routes in Harju County as well as internal bus routes, known as school bus routes, in Harku Municipality.
Editor: Aili Vahtla