Political parties talk public transport in Riga

Take note – story published 3 years ago

In the face of Riga City Council extraordinary elections at the end of August, political parties spoke their mind about public transportation in Riga. Parties promised both new discounts and varied route opportunities, Latvian Television reported July 30.

Joint transport-railway ticket

One of the most popular promises in party programs in the field of public transport is the connection of the city transport system with railway, which would also mean a single ticket on the train and in the transport of “Rigas Satiksme”.

Several lists have offered connections with railway: the National Alliance and the Latvian Association of Regions, Development/For!, The Progressives, New Unity, and the New Conservative Party.

The idea is not new, and the e-talons could be used on the train at the end of 2013. But a few months later, the experiment ended with a dispute over how to compensate for the free tickets and discounts. This dispute between Riga City Council and Passenger Rail has still not been resolved but both companies have agreed conceptually that a single ticket is needed.

Free public transport

In every election, there are parties which promise to introduce free public transport. This time there are four: New Harmony, the Latvian Russian Union, the Center Party and the Union of Greens and Farmers.

LTV asked the parties how much it could cost and where to get the money. Only two answers were received.

New Harmony said that savings can be made by cancelling the e-talons system, while a further EUR 60 million will be obtained following Riga regional reform, meaning that no more money will be paid in the municipal fund. However, the Ministry of Finance points out that the fund will not go anywhere and the Ministry is currently modeling ways how richer municipalities will support less wealthy municipalities.

Meanwhile, the Union of Greens and Farmers pointed to the big grant for “Rigas Satiksme” from the municipality budget and insists that this money would be enough for free transport, if it were correctly spent, for example, by abandoning the Riga discount card.

Rigas Satiksme itself says that the free transport option has been considered, but certain figures are not named.

Other ideas

Extending the free ride options was also encouraged by Harmony, which offers free rides for commuters under the age of 24 and over 64, and one year of free rides for the unemployed. The party replied to the question of costs: “When assessing what is happening in Rigas Satiksme, all indicators show that nothing will be needed in addition.”

In turn, the National Union for Justice ("Taisnīgums") calls for the abolition of free tickets for pensioners in the morning hours.

Center Party wants to expand modes of transport and create “river trams” to the Vecmīlgrāvis and Bolderāja.

Meanwhile, New Harmony promises to set up a new stock company, “Tautas Satiksme,” which, as written in the program, would develop sharing of electric micro-transportation at friendly prices.

15 political forces, who have submitted their lists of candidates, have applied for the Riga City Council's emergency elections.

In February this year, the Latvian Saeima voted to dismiss the Riga City Council. The extraordinary elections were originally planned for April but following the state of emergency the date was changed several times until it was set to August 29.

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