After a close vote in Monday’s council meeting, Tuusula city councilors agreed to sign up for membership in the Helsinki Regional Transport network (HSL). The vote means that the municipality, located slightly northwest of Helsinki, would become part of the capital city regional transportation system at the beginning of 2018.
However changes to bus routes and timetables would not commence immediately with membership. Instead, based on the wishes of Tuusula residents, a transition period is only likely to begin after summer 2018 and commuters will likely see the first phased changes to public transportation during 2018 and 2019.
Adopting an HSL travel card would be especially useful for commuters who currently have to pay separately for transfers to travel from Tuusula to Helsinki. Children between the ages of 7 and 16 as well as students would also pay lower fares for bus tickets.
Cheaper bus fares for some residents
Once incorporated into the HSL network, some Tuusula connection fares will become transfers: a bus will take commuters to Helsinki-Vantaa airport’s Kehärata station or other main stations, while southern Tuusula will have feeder traffic. Commuters will have access to more travel options during the evenings, at night and on weekends by way of bus-train combinations.
Officials plan to maintain direct bus connections between Hyrylä, Tuusula's administrative capital, and downtown Helsinki during morning and afternoon rush hours.
Member municipalities currently pay for usage of HSL public transportation services. Ticket sales cover roughly half of HSL operating costs, while member contributions cover the other half. According to initial estimates, Tuusula would have to hand over three million euros for HSL services in 2018.
A decision long in the making
The debate over whether or not to join the regional transportation system has been ongoing in Tuusula for years, with municipal leaders weighing the advantages and drawbacks for residents.
"A motion on the matter has been around for 10 years. The discussion now emerged again, given that there is an ongoing upheaval in public transportation anyway," said Tuusula city council chair Arto Lindberg.
Decision-makers were also divided on the matter during Monday’s meeting. About 14 councillors representing different political parties proposed that the motion should be referred for further preparation and that a decision to consider it would be made at the beginning of next year.
However the council voted 29 - 22 to discuss the matter during the Monday meeting. Councillors voted 31 – 20 on the final decision to join HSL. At the end fo Janaury, Siuntio, which is located in the western part of the Uusimaa region, also decided to join the regional transportation network, also starting from 2018.