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Minister floats coronavirus bailout for public transport

Up to 90 percent of commuters vanished when the pandemic broke out, Transport Minister Timo Harakka said.

Ihminen istuu metrossa
Helsinki Regional Transport HSL has said that it is losing 20 million euros each month in ticket sales. Image: Eleni Paspatis / Yle

Finland is planning extra funds in its supplementary budget to support public transport operators affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Transport and Communications Minister Timo Harakka told Yle that a major coronavirus package would be in order given that many operators are experiencing difficult times.

The minister said that all operators have lost considerable revenues as commuters avoid public transport over fears of contracting Covid-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus. He added that between 80 and 90 percent of passengers vanished when the pandemic struck Finland.

The capital region’s transport authority Helsinki Regional Transport (HSL) has said that it is haemorrhaging around 20 million euros per month in lost ticket sales. HSL has asked the government for 100 million euros to shore up operations.

"For example, city transport companies are in a situation where there is the risk that they will have to increase ticket prices," Harakka noted.

Harakka stressed that supplementary budget talks are still ongoing and that only later will it be clear if there is consensus within the government on providing support.

"It would have to be such that we could ensure that public transport will continue to be seen as a safe, effective and sufficiently regular for people to use as a sustainable transport alternative," Harakka said.

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