Accessibility of Public Transport
No one needs much convincing today in the value of public transport, and its existence is important in several aspects. However, while the trendy topic is whether public transport should be a free or a paid service, a lot of people (particularly in rural areas) are much more interested in having any sort of public transport services in their place of residence at all.
In order to analyse the accessibility of public transport, we have studied individual rides in public transport on 8–12 October 2018. The analysis is based on the data on public transport stops and departures as of 7 October 2018 (Road Administration. Opening data of the public transport register). The analysis is based on the accessibility assessment criteria developed by the domestic services accessibility expert Veiko Sepp. We have looked at road and rail transport (buses, trams, trolley buses, and trains).
In order to assess the accessibility of public transport, different analytical criteria were applied to urban and rural areas (Statistics Estonia 2018). In urban regions, good accessibility of public transport is considered ensured if means of public transport stop up to 400 metres from the residence of the user every business day, at least twice an hour between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. In rural areas, public transport is considered accessible if it stops up to one kilometre from the residence of the user every business day, at least three times a day between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Additionally, one departure must fall between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. when the majority of the users leave for work or school, and another between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. when users return home, and a third one either between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. or 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
In urban areas, 690,900 people enjoy good access to public transport, which forms 76% of all the urban residents. In rural areas, 75% of the residents – i.e. 303,100 users – enjoy good access to public transport. This means that across Estonia, 76% of the total population has good access to public transport.
The accessibility of public transport is not linked to the surface area of the residential area or the number of its residents. There are a fair number of residential areas that provide excellent accessibility to public transport to almost all their residence thanks to their small number, but there are also those without a single stop that would fulfil the criteria. However, it should be noted that sometimes a single departure is enough to mark a difference between “good” and “inadequate” accessibility.
At the county level, the accessibility is the best in Harju County, where 86% of the population enjoys good access to public transport. The worst accessibility is in Lääne County, where only one quarter of the population has good access. At the local government unit level, the town of Loksa enjoys the best public transport system, available to no less than each and every one of its residents. The worst situation is in the town of Haapsalu, where public transport is accessible to only 6% of the residents.