Estonia: Free public bus transport makes passenger numbers soar in Tartu County

Free public transport, which was implemented in Taru County a year ago, has increased the number of bus passengers, and the change has been a persistent one, according to the regional Tartu Postimees information reports LETA/BNS.

Tonis Piir, member of the management board of the Tartu County Public Transport Center said that the number of passengers who used the free regional bus service in July 2018 was 131,269, whereas those who used the service the year before, when it was subject to a fee, had been 97,083, which marks a 35.2%  growth on year. In July 2019, the number of passengers using the free-of-charge service was 153,049, indicating a further 16.6% growth year on year.

“This shows that riding the bus is popular,” Piir told Tartu Postimees.

The implementation of free regional bus transport on July 1, 2018, initially entailed a number of problems, such as an unexpected hike in passenger numbers. Many of the problems, however, have by now been solved.

Over the past year, the Tartu County Public Transport Center has extended and reorganized its bus routes, created some new ones and increased the total length of the routes by 13.9%.

Even with the current system being dependent on the economic situation and the public purse, Piir nevertheless said he was convinced in its sustainability.

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

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