In January 2013 the Estonian capital Tallinn became the first European capital city to offer free public transport to its citizens. What can we learn from this experience one year later?
Public transport ridership is said to have risen by 10% while car traffic decreased by up to 15% in the first half of 2013. During the same period, Tallinn’s population rose by some 11,000. The city expects that the additional tax income from its new residents will alone offset the loss of ticket revenue. On the other hand, public transport is now becoming more popular for shorter distances, which can lead to crowding.
Above all, this experience highlights the importance of resilient funding in public transport. When assessing any revenue strategy we should ask ourselves: where is the funding coming from and is it stable? UITP will be exploring this theme in more detail on uitp.org in the coming days. You can also find out more in UITP’s latest Policy Brief, dedicated to public transport fare policy, to be released next week.
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