Public transport fares rising again in Helsinki region

According to Helsinki Region Transport (HSL), there are few alternatives to price increases, due to the financial blow from the pandemic.

Season ticket prices will rise by an average 1.6% (file photo from Herttoniemi Metro station last March). Image: Jorge Gonzalez / Yle

Prices of season tickets for public transport in the Helsinki region will increase for the shortest journeys at the beginning of next year, Helsinki's Regional Transport Authority (HSL) has announced.

The inspection penalty for ticketless riders may also increase if approved by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the authority added.

Season ticket prices for some regional traffic zones will increase at the turn of the year. The average price hike will be 1.6 percent.

The prices of AB, BC, CD and D season tickets will rise by 2.60–3.30 euros per month. The prices of ABC, BCD and ABCD tickets as well as the prices of single and day tickets will remain unchanged.

HSL's Board of Directors has also asked the Ministry of Transport and Communications to raise the inspection penalty fee from the current 80 euros to 100 euros.

Ticket prices were last increased a year ago, but the inspection fee has remained the same for 13 years.

HSL says that its 2022 budget is based on the assumption that public transport use will be 23 percent lower next year than in 2019. Meanwhile operating costs are on the rise, it says.

There has been much public criticism of the increases on social media and in the comments section of HSL's website.

After the increase, the inspection penalty would be higher than Helsinki's most expensive parking tickets. According to Elina Kauppila, a Left Alliance member of HSL's Board of Directors, for example, this would penalise low-income earners in particular.

Pajula: Using mass transit is best way to minimise price increases

Board Chair Matias Pajula (NCP) sees no alternatives to the decisions made on Tuesday.

"HSL's financial situation is challenging, and we need to find ways to balance the economy. The increase is in line with inflation, so it is very moderate," he said. Yle asked him more about the latest fare hike.

Why will prices now be increased specifically for the shortest journeys?

"On the longest trips, demand has already dropped very strongly. In these ticket categories, volumes are also so small that the significance of the price increase would have been negligible. In this situation, we were forced to raise the cost of cheaper tickets."

What other means would be available to cover the income deficit?

"Reduction of service levels. I, at least, think that should be avoided. It’s also tricky because we have long-term contracts with operators."

Are you concerned that the price increase will affect the demand for public transport?

"Of course, everything has an effect on everything. However, the increase is moderate, so the competitive position of public transport compared to other modes of transport will not really change."

HSL proposes that the penalty fee should be increased to 100 euros from the current 80 euros. Why?

"The inspection fee has been the same since 2007. Ticket prices, on the other hand, have been raised several times over the years. At least I personally think it’s reasonable to have to pay for travelling without a valid ticket. A very affordable inspection fee inevitably creates a temptation to travel without a ticket."

In Helsinki's southern neighbouring city of Tallinn, Estonia, the use of public transport is free. How far off is this in the metropolitan area?

"At the moment, it is not possible to increase the share of municipalities and cities in public transport costs to 100 percent. Instead, I strongly encourage people to use public transportation now. It is the best way to maintain service levels and minimise price increases."