Thursday, January 19, 2017

Helsinki region: 59% want free public transport

Yle Uutiset | "The majority of residents in the Helsinki region, 59%, back the idea of free public transport, according to a poll published Monday morning by the daily Helsingin Sanomat.

Reacting to the survey, the CEO of Helsinki Regional Transport Suvi Rihtniemi said she does not believe a completely ticket-free system would be possible, at least not for a very long time. One reason she gave is that the present arrangement in which municipalities pay half the costs and users pay the other half works well.

The Estonian capital Tallinn successfully introduced free public transport for residents in 2013. One study carried out last April shows that free public transport there had drawn in 25,000 to 30,000 new residents, increasing the city's tax revenues not only enough to cover costs, but to bring the city a profit of 13 to 18 million euros.

Since the elimination of fees for transport in Tallinn, the use of the public system has increased by over 14% while the use of private cars has fallen by the same proportion.

In Tallinn the sharpest increase in the use of public transport was among 15-19 year-olds, people between the ages of 60 and 74, people living on low incomes, and the unemployed. The Helsingin Sanomat poll found that these same groups in the Helsinki region are heavily in favour of introducing a similar system here."