Free public transport in Tartu County sees ridership soar

Tartu County is one of many across Estonia to offer free public transport on county bus lines. Source: Anette Parksepp/ERR

Since the introduction of free public transport in Tartu County last July, the number of bus passengers on county routes has seen significant growth, regional Tartu Postimees reports.

A total of 131,269 passengers used the free regional bus service in July 2018, up 35.2 percent on year from 97,083 in July 2017, Tartu County Public Transport Centre management board member Tõnis Piir said. This July, the number of passengers using the county's free transport totaled 153,049, indicating a further 16.6 percent growth on year in ridership.

"This demonstrates that riding the bus is popular," Piir told Tartu Postimees.

The introduction of free regional bus transport on July 1, 2018 initially faced several challenges, such as unexpected hikes in passenger numbers. Many issues have since been resolved, however.

Over the past year, the Tartu County Public Transport Centre has extended and reorganized existing bus routes, established some new ones, and increased the total length of its routes by 13.9 percent.

Despite the fact that the current system is dependent on the economic situation and the public purse, Piir nevertheless said that he was convinced of its sustainability.

"The fact is that people started using it more, and they find this system suitable," he said.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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