Following the conclusion of a year-long pilot project financed by the EU, the electric bus serving the number 25 line connecting Tartu Bus Station and Tartu Railway Station introduced in September 2018 was replaced with a gas bus on Sept. 1. Over the past year, the free bus saw a total ridership of approximately 90,000.
The goal of the project was to determine the efficacy of using electric buses on urban routes, taking into account electricity consumption, charging logistics, ease of use as well as technical durability, the Tartu City Government said on Monday.
"We proved that an electric bus can operate well and efficiently under our conditions," Tartu Deputy Mayor Raimond Tamm (Reform) said, deeming the pilot project a success. "The main issue and concern requiring a solution is the correct planning of charging infrastructure and the availability of sufficient electrical capacity."
Tamm noted that the operating costs for an electric bus are lower, for example, than those of a diesel or gas bus, but admitted that the higher acquisition cost currently makes using an electric bus more expensive.
Nonetheless, rider feedback was positive. "We also received positive feedback from users, who greatly appreciated the smooth movement and low noise level of the bus," he added.
Number 25 to remain through end of year
According to Jaanus Tamm, a project manager with the Tartu City Government, the city considers it important to ensure a good direct connection between its bus and railway stations that allows travelers to quickly and conveniently reach the train from the city center and vice versa.
"Even though a slight reduction in passenger numbers was seen on this line due to the entry into service of the new urban network on Sept. 1, we decided to keep it running at least through the end of the year, at which point we will analyze the use of the line and decide whether to continue operating it over a longer period of time," Tamm said.
The electric bus was introduced to Tartu's public transport network on Sept. 3, 2018, in a pilot project implemented within the framework of the Baltic Sea Region program BSR Electric. Regular service on the number 25 line was financed in part by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
As the pilot concluded on Aug. 30, a gas bus took over service of the line on Sept. 1.
Change in route cutting out Ihaste, Annelinn
In connection with a lack of passengers traveling from the districts of Ihaste and Annelinn to the morning trains to Tallinn, beginning Monday, the number 25 bus will no longer serve these districts in the morning; the route will begin at Tartu Bus Station instead.
Editor: Aili Vahtla