HSL: Passenger numbers on public transport closer to pre-pandemic levels

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HSL: Passenger numbers on public transport closer to pre-pandemic levels

Passengers on a platform at Helsinki Central in October 2021. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

PASSENGER VOLUMES on public transport in the capital region have rebounded closer to the record-high levels witnessed before the coronavirus pandemic, reports YLE.

Mari Flink, the director of sales at Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL), told the public broadcasting company earlier this week that records have been broken recently in both fare revenue and passenger volumes.

“Returning to public transport is for many the first step toward normal life after the coronavirus pandemic,” she viewed.

She told that the nationwide remote work recommendation expiring at the end of last month helped to push weekly fare revenue over the seven-million-euro mark at the beginning of March. The lifting of coronavirus restrictions, meanwhile, has had an impact on passenger volumes over weekends.

Passenger volumes over weekends have been only about 20 per cent lower than before the pandemic, having been as much as 40 per cent lower as recently as in January. Volumes on weekdays have improved from about 40 per cent lower to 30 per cent lower than in 2019.

“If the situation continues to develop on this trajectory, we’re talking about a good situation in light of the circumstances,” said Flink.

She also confirmed that soaring fuel prices are creating pressure to increase fares but declined to speculate on the extent of the possible increases. Fuel prices, though, should have an even greater impact on car owners and could thus boost the passenger numbers further.

“In public transport, fuel prices are only one cost factor,” she said.

Flink admitted that the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain the finances of the public transport company, along with costs arising from the western expansion of the metro network and the construction of new high-speed light rail services.

“At the same time, these are an opportunity to raise passenger volumes further.”

HSL on 4 March announced that Ukrainian passport holders can travel on its public transport for free until 30 April. “By offering free travel, HSL wants to express support to the numerous Ukrainians who are forced to flee their homes because of this appalling war,” stated Mika Nykänen, the executive director at HSL.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Source: www.helsinkitimes.fi

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