TALLINN – A general meeting of the Jogeva County Public Transport Center decided on Friday to introduce free public transport on county bus lines from July 1.
Heldur Laane, member of the board of Jogeva County Public Transport Center, told BNS that free rides on county buses will not undermine the market for other means of transport.
"We don't have the kind of long-distance lines and train services that would get in the way, we can permit it," Laane said. He said that the decision was made on pragmatic grounds, as the municipalities of the county do not wish to incur additional costs related to reduced fares.
Rapla County, for instance, has refused free rides on county buses on the grounds that it wishes to have a common fare system for trains and buses.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson at the end of April signed a ticket price regulation that from July will enable to ask for ticket prices at the existing rate on county bus lines but also offer free public transport. If the local public transport centers do now lower ticket prices of the county bus traffic from July, for example reducing them to a free ride, they will partly miss out on the additional funding meant to be allocated for county public transport from the state budget.
So far, the Southeastern Public Transport Center organizing the public transport of Voru and Polva counties, Laane County, as well as the municipality of Saaremaa have decided to implement free public transport. Harju County, Rapla County and West-Viru County have turned down the possibility to introduce free public transport.