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Citybee car rentals on hold due to parking impasse with city government

Citybee cars are not available for hire in Tallinn yet, due to ongoing issues with the city government.
Citybee cars are not available for hire in Tallinn yet, due to ongoing issues with the city government. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Vehicle rental app Citybee has faced opposition to its scheme to roll out hire cars in Tallinn. Tallinn City Government has said that such cars as unnecessary, and says free parking for the vehicles, which would be hired short-term in much the same way as the company's electric scooters, is off the table.

Citybee, a Lithuanian firm, started offering electric scooter hires in the capital in June, in competition with taxi hailing app Bolt which launched a similar service around the same time.

As reported on ERR News, the company brought a fleet of small cars to Tallinn recently, planned for a four-wheel version of the scooter hire setup, as already available in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

If available the service would bring over 100 cars to the streets of Tallinn, which the city government says cannot be parked for free, as well as being an unnecessary addition to the traffic and taking away from public transport volumes.

"The city government sees low-cost car rental customers primarily as current public transport users, since those who already drive, drive their own cars," said Deputy Mayor Kalle Klandorf (Centre), according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

"There is no need for such a service. It will pollute the environment more," Klandorf went on, speaking at a press conference.

"These things aren't so straightforward that you just start parking on the city streets [for free]. We discussed the matter and our view is that the city cannot support free parking on the streets because it is not environmentally friendly," he continued, also claiming road safety may be compromised by the Citybee cars, in addition to contributing to congestion and obstruction.

"We need to clear the snow off the streets in winter; when that happens, who is going to move those cars?" Klandorf enquired, adding that even cheaper parking fees for the rental cars would not be an option.

"In addition, it [the rental cars] would take away from parking for locals. Parking restrictions and parking fees are set to prevent cars from obstructing pedestrians and traffic, so paying parking fees would motivate people to vacate the parking space as soon as possible," he continued.

Klandorf also rebuffed Citybee's claim that talks between Tallinn City Government and the company are ongoing, saying he could not identify who Citybee had been negotiating with so far.

Another Deputy Mayor, Aivar Riisalu (Centre) said that Citybee had left it too late to assume that the car rental service was a given, and shouldn't have announced the roll-out before it was agreed, regardless of how the scooter service had gone.

Citybee response

Citybee took its scooters off the streets recently, for the winter, with the idea that the cars would replace them. Under the proposed service, both refuelling and parking costs would be a matter for Citybee and not users.

Citybee spokesperson Triin Adamson said that there was never any plan to require free on-street parking, simply that users could not park in parking lots on the company, adding that negotiations, including on parking, are still underway so a start-date for the service cannot be announced yet.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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