Free public transportation: there’s a Socialist idea if ever there was one, but it’s a concept that is being tried out at an ever-expanding list of European towns. One of the latest examples – and probably most prominent, since it is after all a national capital – is in Tallinn, Estonia, where city trams and buses have been free for around three months now, as we see from Czech Business News:
Free to those registered as having a permanent residence within Tallinn, that is: not for those just visiting. So it seems you still have to check in at some ticket-punching or RFID chip-reading apparatus while boarding, it’s just that you’ll get the tickets/chip-cards you need for free if you’re a city resident. Others have to buy them – but don’t worry, you can use your regular euros to do that, Estonia has been in the Eurozone for over two years now!
(Be sure to save a 1- or 2-euro piece or two as a souvenir for the unique Estonia image on the reverse side! OK, it’s just a map of the country, but it’s different!)
As the piece reports, yearly spending on public transport amounts to around €12 million, but this scheme does tend to flush out those who can be regarded as city permanent residents – and so can otherwise be taxed – but just have not been up to now. Plus there are the other more-obvious effects: ridership up 10%, traffic on main city arteries down 15%.
As it turns out, if you’re curious about this urban experiment but don’t read Czech (or don’t want to put up with Google Translate’s version), the Washington Post recently offered its own coverage.