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Estonia: Free public transport to enter into force in 11 counties from July 1

TALLINN – Starting from July 1, zero price county bus line tickets will enter into force in 11 Estonian counties, including Valga, Voru, Viljandi, Polva, Jarva, Jogeva, Tartu, East-Viru, Hiiu, Saare counties and on routes managed by NGO North Estonian Public Transport Center in Laane County.

Four counties will not implement free public transport -- West-Viru, Harju, Rapla and Parnu counties -- but according to Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson, these counties will be able to change their mind if they deem it necessary.

Buses offering zero price tickets will bear a relevant sign. Journeys must be registered upon entering the vehicle, which means a travel card must be validated. If there are no validation machines on the bus, the bus driver will issue a relevant zero price ticket to the passenger, the Road Administration said.

The ride must be registered so that organizers of regular services can receive statistics concerning the number of passengers on the route in order to assess the necessity of keeping the bus route operating. Travel cards can be bought for two euros either from the bus or other sales points. Travel cards do not have to be personalized and it is valid in all counties that have implemented free public transport.

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.

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