We, 31.05.2023
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Editorial: public transport «pudding» – proof of the state reform

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Photo: Urmas Nemvalts

Who’s untouched by public transport? None. Even the car owner will need the occasional taxi, bus or train ride. Public transport needs to be as fast and comfy as can be. It needs to work where needed while affordable for client and provider alike – the latter burning taxpayer euros.

So what better to expect from the new Public Transport Act as increasingly improved administration of the domain, the pruning of bottlenecks, updating of legal space. Yesterday, the bill passed its initial Riigikogu reading and we are probably in for some deeper discussions as not all issues have their explicit and exhaustive answers yet. By the way, we are talking about the big picture, not some nuances like taxi service of legal contradictions in the current Act as also pointed out by Chancellor of Justice.

As promised by letter of explanation to the bill, and economic affairs committee chairman Arto Aas who introduced it in Riigikogu main hall, the new law will help harmonise public transport arrangements and its financing models with real life and the practice by now formed. Pursuant to the bill, the agencies planning and organising public transport are the following: commune and city council, commune and city government, county government, Road Administration, economy ministry and Government of the Republic. Local government associations, carriers and carries associations may be involved. Wonderful with the diversity of options, while it is unclear if and how the increased flexibility will help the domain progress.

As early as four years ago, in a study ordered by interior ministry University of Tartu scientists showed how inhabitants of Estonia are increasing in mobility and in daily cross-county travel. That’s a matter of where the jobs are, plus suburbanisation. In 2010 already, over 380,000 people were working or studying outside their native local government.

Important and weighty, herewith, how the state and local government manage to plan public transport in the changed conditions. Cooperation is vital. By Public Transport Act, some current schemes will perhaps be turned legal, but in several areas where public interest would demand cooperation the law will not be bringing it about.   

The new law is probably needed. Better yet, let’s hope discussing the very bill will broaden deputy minds regarding Estonian public administration. For it is today we are talking about, not always some distant tomorrow.

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