The Tallinn experiment: what happens when a city makes public transport free?

Since Estonia’s capital started providing free public transport for residents in 2013, it claims to have turned a €20m a year profit each year. But has the scheme achieved its ambitions of reducing traffic and saving people money?

In London a monthly travel card for the whole city costs almost £200. In Copenhagen, a city a fraction of the size, you’ll pay £160. So when you ask the residents of Tallinn about the benefits of free travel across the city, it’s a surprise to be met with a roll of the eyes or a sarcastic smile.

The capital of Estonia introduced free public transport at the beginning of 2013 after their populist mayor Edgar Savisaar called a referendum on the decision, dismissed by critics at the time as a political stunt that the city couldn’t afford.

Three years on Savisaar has been suspended amid allegations of corruption, but the city remains committed to the programme – claiming that instead of it costing them money, they are turning a profit of €20m a year.

Read the full story at theguardian.com.

Victoria Krisman is Interactive Media Specialist for the Intelligent Community Forum.
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