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TALLINN – The public transport subsidy made available by the Estonian government will rise by nine million euros year over year to 101 million euros in 2018, it appears from the state budget bill that has received the informal node of the government.
A big portion of the increase is a result of additional subsidization of bus services.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson said that greater support for public transport services will ensure better mobility, reduce motorization and pollution of the environment. The state subsidies also make movement easier for the less well-off residents, the minister said according to spokespeople.
"Thanks to free bus services, the number of passengers on county bus lines grew by 33 percent on the average in August, which demonstrates that ticket price matters a lot to our people. It is definitely our goal to go on with free public transport and this is reflected in the new budget as well," Simson said.
The subsidy for bus services will grow from 34.8 million euros this year to 43.3 million euros in 2019. Domestic ship, air and rail passenger services under public passenger service contracts will be ensured at least at the level of 2018.
Air services to the two biggest islands, Saaremaa ja Hiiumaa, will be given 5.53 million euros, more than double the subsidy of 2.6 million euros they received this year. The minister described regional air services as one of the priorities for the state in regional development.
In addition, seven million euros will be allocated to the state-owned airport company Tallinn Airport to see to better air connections and support regional airports.
The subsidy for the state-owned domestic passenger train operator Elron will amount to 30.8 million euros next year. The money comes in addition to Elron's ticket revenue, which in the first eight months of this year was bigger by 23 percent than in January-August 2017.