An interview with Andrei Novikov, Deputy Mayor of Tallinn

City Voices is an Urban Mobility Weekly initiative highlighting the work that our city partners are doing to improve and advance the mobility landscape for their citizens. Talking with key city officials, the series will focus on how urban communities are overcoming challenges, finding solutions, and seizing the opportunities to render mobility more sustainable, accessible, intelligent, and inclusive.

  1. Can you share with us an overview of Tallinn?
  • Population & Modal Share

As of February 2022, the population of Tallinn is 444,592 inhabitants. Depending on districts, the population density varies with an average of about 2983 persons per km2. Public transport share in different districts is different as well as highly dependent to various user groups (employed, student etc). The average modal share is around 41%.

Sign Up

Subscribe

By signing up to the Autonomy newsletter you agree to receive electronic communications from us that may sometimes include advertisements or sponsored content.

  • Infrastructure

Tallinn currently has several infrastructure projects that are in final planning stages, for example Vana-Sadama tram line which should connect the Airport terminal with the Future RailBaltic terminal, existing bus terminal and passenger harbour. Another major project is the reconstruction of Peterburi Road. Future reconstruction projects are mainly in plans and are related to Liivalaia Street and Pärnu Road.

The implementation we started last year on the Tallinn Bicycle Strategy 2018-2027 will continue this year and in the following years. Furthermore, we are currently looking at 4 different tramline projects, of which we would like to implement at least 2 in the upcoming years. We started a pilot project early in 2022 to purchase 15 electric buses which involve charging stations as well as software.

We can say that in Tallinn, there are no informal communities as such. For the people with no place of residence, the city provides shelters and social premises to cover their needs. In addition, people and families that are unable to ensure their own housing and need help with everyday life, are able to reside in social housing units.The City of Tallinn has a total of 1,122 apartments in social housing units, which currently accommodate around 986 families on the basis of social rental contracts.

As Tallinn is a relatively small city, we can say that the vast majority of it is covered with a well-connected public transport network that enables daily commuting within 30 minutes. The same applies for cycling. Further statistics would need to be collected and analysed separately. According to the 2020 report by European Environment Agency, Tallinn ranks 4th in Europe in terms of the quality of urban air, closely following Umeå (Swe), Tampere (Fin) and Funchal (Por). In Tallinn, the level of fine particulate matter in urban air is 4.4 µg per cubic meter of air.

  • State of Transport

In 2021, the total of registered traffic accidents was 1,644, including 699 accidents involving public transport, 12 accidents between soft mobility users, 117 accidents between vehicles and pedestrians, and 76 accidents between vehicles and bicycles. In 1,644 accidents in 2021, 607 people were injured, and 5 people lost their lives.

In comparison, the total of traffic accidents in 2020 was 1,245, of which 488 those involving public transport, 109 involving pedestrians and 75 involving cyclists; altogether causing 510 injuries and 9 fatalities. We need to keep in mind that due to the COVID situation and lockdown periods, we had  significantly less traffic and therefore it makes more sense to compare with 2019: total accidents 857, involving pedestrians 142, injured 559, fatal 7.

Although the total of accidents was higher in 2021, we saw a significant decrease in fatalities comparing to both 2019 and 2020. In 2021, we payed extra attention to the introduction of the new bicycle strategy which lead to the formation of a cycling network within the City Centre.

Average travel time differs from district to district. For example, around 72% of City Centre residents spend less than 20 minutes to reach their main destination. 41% of residents of Pirita spend more than 20 minutes, similarly to residents of Haabersti (42%) and Nõmme (38%) districts. We can say that the average travel time for Tallinn residents is around 25 minutes and as of December 2020, Tallinn has a total of around 300,000 km of pathways, which are constantly maintained and fully accessible.

Approximately 70% of public transport users do not need a transfer to reach their main destinations. According to ticket validators, 25% of passengers require to commit 1 transfer and less than 5% require doing 2 transfers or more and currently, there are 470 cars per 1,000 residents in Tallinn.

Since the pandemic, we have recorded a 30 % decrease in the public transport use. Similar trends have been recorded in various locations around the world. Like the decrease in public transport, private car usage also decreased significantly in weeks 11-27 in 2020. This was due to the lockdown implemented to prevent COVID-19 spread. By now, private transport use has fully recovered to the pre-pandemic level.

As one of the reasons behind the drop of public transport use was that people felt unsafe, we have introduced additional services on lines with high demand and a new disinfection policy so that the level of service could be in accordance with the new reality.

  1. How did the pandemic affect Tallinn’s mobility? And what were the measures and policies adopted to tackle its impacts?

Since the pandemic, we have recorded a 30 % decrease in the public transport use. Similar trends have been recorded in various locations around the world. Like the decrease in public transport, private car usage also decreased significantly in weeks 11-27 in 2020. This was due to the lockdown implemented to prevent COVID-19 spread. By now, private transport use has fully recovered to the pre-pandemic level.

As one of the reasons behind the drop of public transport use was that people felt unsafe, we have introduced additional services on lines with high demand and a new disinfection policy so that the level of service could be in accordance with the new reality.  

  1. What are the main mobility challenges faced by Tallinn, in terms of mobility? And are there any policies being implemented to tackle these challenges?

One of the main challenges is the promotion of public transport. Although the Tallinn public transport services are one of the most modern in the EU considering the new fleet of buses and trams, it is still relatively difficult to convince people to leave their personal vehicles behind. To tackle this, we are facing a complete redesign of the public transport network. We have a scientific approach to the problem and therefore we have built a multimodal transport model and continue to build competence in data gathering and analysis.

  1. According to these 8 main categories: Active & Micro-mobility, Shared Mobility, MaaS – Ticketing and Payments, Smart City Services, Corporate Mobility, E-Mobility and Infrastructure, Urban Logistics and AV’s and Technologies, in terms of city mobility policies, which directions does Tallinn envision?

We are envisioning the promotion of soft mobility (i.e. active and micromobility). Therefore, we are implementing the bicycle strategy with temporary solutions, and we take this approach further to implement walking/cycling friendly solutions through out street reconstruction.

  1. What technologies does the city believe in and encourage?

Tallinn is a firm believer in developing and implementing technological innovations and digital solutions. Tallinn’s ambition is to become a carbon neutral city by implementing different technologies and innovations in cooperation with businesses so that we can offer an excellent living environment and quality of life, as well as smart and data-driven urban governance.

Autonomous transport solutions, a spatial planning information system, a mobile network-based system for analysing people’s movements, smart crossing lanes, and innovative in-car mapping technologies for self-driving cars are just some of the examples Tallinn is developing together with Estonian tech companies.