Helsinki regional transport braces for cuts amid revenue collapse
The service has had one of its worst quarters to date due to the coronavirus pandemic
- September 07, 2020 14:30
- Anton Stoyanov
Helsinki’s Regional Transport Authority (HSL) has had a tough few months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown measures and the strong discouragement to venture outside has led to a severe drop in ticket sales and to dire consequences for the agency. Now, officials are mulling different ways of addressing the financial catastrophe as they eye cuts to some much-loved services and promotions currently on offer.
Making tough choices for the benefit of all citizens
In order to prevent financial ruin, officials at HSL have been looking at ways to increase revenue – something that will not simply happen on its own as coronavirus restrictions are eased but would rather need a comprehensive approach and policy.
The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority currently serves a vast area, encompassing not only the Finnish capital and its immediate surroundings but also the cities of Espoo and Vantaa. Thus, the decisions that the authority makes will impact a large chunk of Finland’s population and need to be carefully calibrated so as to not cause far too much damage to use of the service.
One of the main ideas currently floated by officials is the suspension of a much-loved and established practice – namely, the free rides for persons with prams and strollers. These free rides have been company policy for decades, but the current situation, in which HSL stands to lose over 120 million euros in ticket sales, requires a drastic rethink of how it operates.
HSL officials have asked municipalities for their opinions on the matter, stating that other options include raising ticket prices altogether or increasing the share that municipalities pay into the Authority’s budget. Should the HSL’s financial situation worsen, however, it should not come as a surprise if all these measures are employed in order to protect the vital services it provides.
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