Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas signed the draft transport and mobility master plan for Estonia for the next 15 years, which plans to make the transport system more sustainable and safer and pay more attention to the strategic development of mobility.
To create the development plan, the Ministry organized involvement events all over Estonia during the last 18 months to include the views of the target groups and capture the general opinion on the developments in the transport sector. The Ministry also commissioned a study from the International Transport Forum to identify the challenges of the Estonian transport system.
According to Minister Aas, such a long-term vision is necessary to achieve green aspirations. "Although the whole world is in both a health and economic crisis, and each country is looking for ways to protect its citizens' health and support its economy, we must also pay attention to our long-term aspirations, especially in light of last week's new greener deal," added Aas.
"I hope that the vision of the future created based on meaningful inclusion and empirical research will further increase the demand for new technological solutions that create new and better opportunities for companies and our people."
In creating the future direction of transport and mobility, the Ministry stemmed from the goal of ensuring convenient, safe, fast, accessible and sustainable mobility opportunities for residents and companies. The main focus of the development plan is to reduce the environmental footprint of transport vehicles and systems to contribute to the achievement of the 2050 climate goals. To manage people's behavioural changes, more attention must be paid in the future to the polluter pays principle. The development plan also calls for the introduction of low-carbon fuels in all modes of transport. Due to the climate goals set by the European Union, the development plan sets the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Estonian transport sector by 23-38 per cent by 2035 compared to 2018.
Mobility, which aims to bring the use of public transport closer to the people and make its use more convenient, faster and more accessible is also a major direction in drawing up the master plan. It is also planned to pay more attention to cycling and walking to increase the share of public transport, cycling or walking workers from 38% to 45-55% through better mobility. One of the activities in making public transport more attractive is the creation of a unified ticketing system, which should be operational in Harju County in a few years. In the future, it should be possible to use it all over Estonia.
In infrastructure development, the Ministry follows the logic of integrated transport corridors and multimodal infrastructure, in particular, keeping in mind the needs of vehicle-free road users. In the future, the goal is to halve the number of road deaths and serious injuries.
The aim is also to reduce the population's expenses for the use of personal cars, which in Tallinn and Harju County alone are about 1.5 billion euros a year. To achieve this, it is planned to offer better train connections, in combination with fast and convenient local public transport (light rail, bus traffic).
Over the next 15 years, it is planned to increase rail speeds, safety and create new connections and shift both passenger and freight traffic from road to rail. The goal is to reach Narva from Tallinn in one hour and forty-five minutes by 2035 and Tartu from Tallinn in one hour and thirty minutes. There will also be an international train connection with Europe - Rail Baltica. It is also planned to introduce local stops for the Rail Baltica route in cooperation with the rest of the railway network.
The master plan confirms the continuation of constructing four-lane roads from Tallinn to Narva, Tartu and Pärnu to reduce time-space distances and increase traffic safety. Asphalting of the country's gravel roads will also continue to improve the quality of public transport and provide better roads for companies.
The concept of maritime transport was also created as an appendix to the master plan, as the current Maritime Policy 2014-2020 is also coming to an end. The plan is to make the maritime transport sector more competitive and greener and to integrate it with other infrastructure. It is also planned to keep connected to Estonian flights through the development of new business lines in the aviation sector, such as aircraft maintenance.