Free intra-county public transport, which seems to be in Estonia, but which is not everywhere, was severely criticized in the report of the National Audit Office. The National Audit Office analyzed 2017–2019. public transport statistics for 2006 and concluded that the target was not met. The goal was for a quarter of employees to use public transport instead of a private car to go to work. In addition, public spending on free transport is growing faster than expected.
According to Ailar Ladva, Adviser of the Haapsalu Urban Environment, public transport is expensive – the distances are long and the population is sparse. This is not just about Lääne County. The politicians of the Center Party immediately responded to the criticism of the National Audit Office, eagerly defending the service, which is becoming especially expensive in sparsely populated areas.
But what would be the options then? Go back to paid transportation or continue on a free course?
There are almost no good choices right now. At a high level, fast and flexible public transport costs a lot and public spending should increase significantly in this case. Restarting the ticketing system is also not cheap, and sparsely populated areas are the ones where it pays off the least. Besides, if you suddenly start asking for money for a free service, it can be a problem for many.
The focus on the development of public transport should have started a long time ago – when car use was not so widespread. To move back from the car to public transport, it is necessary to offer much more convenient connections at a much cheaper price.
Real development is going the other way one way or another. If there are no or few passengers, the routes will be reduced. As has already happened. When choosing a place to work and live, a person takes into account the opportunities that currently exist. In a way, the spread of the coronavirus also reduces the possibilities of public transport, which made many of those who otherwise rode a bus with good appetite prefer a car.