REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Tallinn's mayor wants it to be the flagship of Europe's green movement. 

Tallinn, Estonia, looks set to become the first European capital with a completely free public transportation system. As the BBC reports, Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar wants his city of 416,000 to be "the flagship of the green movement in Europe." By providing free public transit for locals (visitors would still pay), city government believes car usage will decrease enough to make it worthwhile.

Seventy-five percent of referendum voters supported the free rides program, which is slated to begin in 2013.

It remains unclear how the city will pay for this, however. One-third of Tallinn's mass transit funding comes from ticket revenue. Increased ridership combined with decreasing revenue is often a good recipe for lower quality service, a result that could easily have the opposite effect: pushing residents back into their cars. 

Many smaller European towns provide free public transit for citizens. France has 12 different municipalities that do not charge for mass transit. Türi, Estonia (58 miles south of Tallinn) also has a free transit system. Some American cities also provide public transportation free of charge, with Vero Beach, Florida, the largest of them. 

Currently, Tallinn has a flat-fare system, costing passengers €1.60.

Photo credit: Reuters

About the Author

Mark Byrnes
Mark Byrnes

Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design, history, and photography.

Most Popular

  1. Postcards showing the Woodner when it used to be a luxury apartment-hotel in the '50s and '60s, from the collection of John DeFerrari
    Equity

    The Neighborhood Inside a Building

    D.C.’s massive Woodner apartment building has lived many lives—from fancy hotel to one of the last bastions of affordable housing in a gentrifying neighborhood. Now, it’s on the brink of another change.

  2. Design

    The Military Declares War on Sprawl

    The Pentagon thinks better designed, more walkable bases can help curb obesity and improve troops’ fitness.

  3. Members of a tenants' organization in East Harlem gather outside the office of landlord developer Dawnay, Day Group, as lawyers attempt to serve the company with court papers on behalf of tenants, during a press conference in New York. The tenant's group, Movement for Justice in El Barrio, filed suit against Dawnay, Day Group, the London-based investment corporation "for harassing tenants by falsely and illegally charging fees in attempts to push immigrant families from their homes and gentrify the neighborhood," said Chaumtoli Huq, an attorney for the tenants.
    Equity

    Toward Being a Better Gentrifier

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to be a neighbor during a time of rapid community change.

  4. Equity

    The Hoarding of the American Dream

    A new book examines how the upper-middle class has enriched itself and harmed economic mobility.

  5. Equity

    The Poverty Just Over the Hills From Silicon Valley

    The South Coast, a 30-mile drive from Palo Alto, is facing an affordable-housing shortage that is jeopardizing its agricultural heritage.