Tallinn delays new bus routes due to lack of drivers ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Tallinn city buses. Image is illustrative.
Tallinn city buses. Image is illustrative. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Tallinn City Government's plans to create new bus routes and expand existing services have been stalled due to a lack of bus drivers.

ERR reported on Monday that Tallinn wants to hire 50 new drivers but is having problems with recruitment.  

The city had planned to open five new bus routes or extend existing ones in Tallinn this year, but will not be able to due to a lack of drivers.

Officials are considering lowering the minimum age requirement for drivers, but such a measure will not bring results immediately. Rising wages will also not solve the problem, said Tallinn's deputy mayor, Andrei Novikov (Centre).

Currently, bus drivers in Tallinn are paid around €1,300 a month and have the option of additional overtime. But if salaries were raised in Tallinn to attract more drivers to the capital, wages would increase in the rest of the country too, Novikov said.

"The problem is that the number of drivers in our country does not change," the deputy mayor explained.

He also said the average age of drivers in the capital's bus fleet is over 50 years old, which means that every year drivers retire and the problem worsens.

Speaking about services Tallinn wants to create or improve, Novikov said: "We will definitely open the line connecting Lasnamäe and Northern Tallinn when Reidi Road is completed. We will certainly tighten the number 39 line (Veerenni - Liikuri). Apparently we will be able to open Väike-Õismäe-Mustamäe-Ülemiste City line number 64 next year. The bus is ready but there are no drivers."

There are also plans to extend bus line number 37, which travels from the city center to Tallinn Zoo.

About 1,100 drivers work in Tallinn, 900 of which are drive buses. There is no shortage of tram and trolley bus drivers, but at least 50 more bus drivers are needed.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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