Leaders from municipalities, researchers and civic activists from all over the world came to Tallinn from the 9-12 May to discuss free public transport.
Estonian Minister for Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, Kadri Simson, and French MEP, Karima Delli, Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism at the European Parliament, gave the keynote address to the 135 attendees.
Paris was the biggest city to be represented at the conference “Free Public Transport for all. Dream or reality”.
Emmanuel Gregoire, Deputy Mayor, Paris, said he believed free public transport was technically feasible in the French capital and was encouraged by what he had learned at the conference.
“Tallinn is the biggest city in the World which has free public transport. The main objective in Paris is to fight against pollution. Here in Tallinn, the main objective is to develop mobility. I will need to implement a study with the point of view to reduce pollution.
“The purpose is not only to increase the use of free public transport but to reduce the use of cars.”
Boris Palmer, Mayor of Tübingen said the main difference between his city and Tallinn was people register in the city and that meant taxes flowed back into the city.
“If it would happen in my city I could fly back and start it tomorrow, knowing the money will flow back. “
Palmer said the conference made clear the motivation for free public transport is different and the solutions and problems in each city are different.
“There are really very different situations and this influence whether people switch to public transport or not,” Palmer said.
“We have a fairly rich population. In Poland, they started such an experiment because people couldn’t afford their children buying bus trips even,” Palmer said.
Other representatives at the conference came from United States, Italy, Sweden, Poland, Brazil, China, Lithuania and the United Kingdom including the mayors of Dunkirk (France) Mayor, Avesta (Sweden) Templin (Germany).