Statistics: Shares of commuters on foot, by public transport have declined in Estonia

  • 2024-03-13
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The share of people who go to work on foot has almost halved in Estonia in the last 20 years and the numbers of public transport users have also dropped, whereas the numbers of car users have grown, Statistics Estonia said on Wednesday.

Tea Vassiljeva, analyst at Statistics Estonia, noted that the majority of our residents go to work either on foot, by public transport or by personal car. Where 20 years ago the shares of these three modes of commute were more or less equal, the proportions have changed greatly since, with the percentage of those who walk to their workplace and back falling from 27.3 percent to 14.6 percent.

"We also see a significant decline when it comes to public transport. In 2003, 29.9 percent of people commuted to work using public transport, while in 2023, only 17.8 percent did so. In parallel with the decrease in the numbers of people commuting on foot or by public transport, there has been an increase in the number of individuals commuting by personal car: whereas in 2003, 25 percent of people commuted to work by personal car, last year this ratio was 46.9 percent. Notably, the proportion of women commuting to work by personal car has increased more over the past 20 years than that of men," the analyst said.

She said that the increase in car usage is, of course, due to the overall increase in the number of cars. Besides, there has been a slight increase in the distance between workplaces and homes. The number of people working within a distance of up to two kilometers from home has decreased from 32.2 percent to 22.6 percent, while the number of those whose workplace is more than 10 kilometers away has increased. The proportion of those with an average commute of between two and ten kilometers has remained fairly constant. Overall, the average distance between home and workplace has increased by 3.5 kilometers during the period in question.

In 2003, three in four of the people living up to two kilometers from their workplace went to work on foot. In 2023, a little more than half did so. Thus, not only the distance from the place of work, but also people's other choices have reduced the percentage of those commuting on foot. In 2023, people who go to work on foot covered an average distance of 1.3 kilometers, 20 years earlier their journey to work was 100 meters shorter, said Vassiljeva.

The distances traveled by public transport have changed only slightly. Last year, the average person communing by public transport lived 11.1 kilometers from their workplace, compared with 10.2 kilometers 20 years ago. The average distance traveled by private car has increased by 1.7 kilometers. By contrast, the distance traveled by transport provided by the workplace has increased the most, by 5.5 kilometers.  

"Apparently, the prevailing modes of commute 20 years ago were due to a lack of opportunities. The number of privately owned passenger cars has doubled in the last 20 years, which means that their use has also increased. This is a reflection of the growth of economic well-being. At the same time, there have been other developments as well over the course of 20 years, with increases in awareness of the environmental impact of human activities and the health impact of daily exercise in recent years," the analyst added.