Decrypting Fare-Free Public Transport in Tallinn, Estonia
Among many possible interventions in public transport finance and policy designed to enhance the attractiveness of riding public transport, one of the most extreme, which is seldom implemented, is the elimination of passenger fares, effectively making public transport “free” for riders (with operating costs paid from other funding sources). This article describes a fare-free public transport program in Tallinn, Estonia, launched in 2013, which has exhibited lower-than-expected increases in ridership. Evaluations of Tallinn’s fare-free public transport program are presented and synthesized, with a focus on program goals and how goals are met through program performance. Findings suggest certain flaws limit the program’s potential success since the program design is misaligned with its primary stated goals, and several program goals relating to external effects of fare reform cannot be evaluated. Although it would be valuable for transport managers in other cities to learn about this experience, the Tallinn fare-free public transport program provides scant transferable evidence about how such a program can operate outside of a politicized context, which was crucial to its implementation in Estonia.
To access the article in Case Studies in Transport Policy click here.
Here are a few images from a recent visit to Seda, a small town in Northern Latvia (current population 1,700). Built amid swampland, the town was established in the 1950s to house workers of a nearby peat extraction plant. The town is dominated by a formal geometric street pattern lined with 1950s-style apartment buildings in the Stalinist style, as well as 1960s- and 1970s-era Soviet-style apartment buildings.
Revisiting the role of architects in planning large-scale housing in the USSR: the birth of socialist residential districts in Tallinn, Estonia, 1957–1979 (2017).
In Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, housing estates are often associated with inhumane architecture and unwelcoming public space, an outcome that can be attributed to strict design requirements in a rigid centralized system. Due to the uniformity of residential housing produced during socialist times, both the design process and its master – the architect – are believed to have played only minor roles in shaping townscapes. This study, situated in the large housing estates of Tallinn, Estonia, challenges these assumptions using analyses of archival material (relating to planning procedures during state socialism) and articles in specialized magazines. Continue reading New publication in Planning Perspectives