Ticket reform expected to increase the use of public transport in the HSL area

HSL will introduce new public transport fare zones and tickets in spring 2019. HSL’s Board decided the prices of the new tickets on 30 October. Ticket prices will drop by 1.3 per cent. In the new model, the HSL area will be divided into four zones, designated by the letters A, B, C and D. Passengers need to buy a ticket for all zones they travel through.

In zones A, B and C, passengers need an AB, BC ticket or ABC ticket, and there are no one-zone tickets for zones A, B and C. The new 30-day season ticket for zones AB or BC will cost five euros more than the current city internal season ticket. However, the new tickets will allow passengers to travel in a much larger area than the current internal tickets. In practice, the cost of travel will decrease for those currently using city internal season tickets. For example, a resident of Helsinki who has a Helsinki internal season ticket, currently pays over 8.40 euros for a return journey to e.g. Tapiola, Leppävaara or Myyrmäki. In the future, an AB season ticket will cover these journeys.

HSL will also introduce new zone extension tickets that passengers can buy when traveling outside the validity zone of their season ticket. For example, if you have an AB season ticket and want to travel to zone C, you can buy a zone extension ticket for zone C. The ticket costs 2.50 euros.

The transport costs of many passengers using regional tickets will decrease significantly, because in many cases, an AB or BC season ticket will suffice in the future. A 30-day AB or BC ticket will cost almost 47 euros or 44 per cent less than a regional ticket. Many passengers will benefit from the reform as the B zone is large, with over 600,000 people, about half of HSL area residents, living within the zone.

 “The new fare zones will increase the use of public transport in particular in zones B and C. Public transport journeys will increase and car journeys decrease, in particular in the direction of Helsinki. According to our traffic forecasts, the number of kilometers traveled by public transport will increase by 5% thanks to the reform,” says HSL’s Executive Director Suvi Rihtniemi.

In addition, HSL will introduce an annual ticket that is payable monthly. The ticket will be the most ecomical way to use public transport. For example, the new AB or BC annual ticket will cost almost two euros less a month than the current internal 30-day ticket. Customers benefit from the lower price if their subscription is at least for 360 days in duration.

Ticket prices to be based on the distance traveled

 “HSL is introducing the new fare zones to remedy the defects in the current system. The current ticket zones are based on municipal boundaries and short journeys across municipal boundaries are expensive relative to the distance traveled. Another problem is that the journeys made with the same ticket can vary a lot in length: in the east, you can travel all the way to the border of Sipoo, while in the west, the regional ticket zone begins already in Hanasaari,” says Rihtniemi.

In addition, the new model will simplify the ticketing system. The current tickets and their validity zones are difficult to understand: what do region, extended region 2 and extended region 3 mean? Zones radiating from the center of Helsinki, indicated by letters ABCD are easier to understand.

A 45% discount on season tickets for all students

HSL municipalities subsidize public transport journeys of students by about 28.5 million euros a year. Currently, students over 30 years of age must prove that they have been granted a student allowance in order to get the discount. In the new fare system, the age limit and requirement of a student allowance will be removed. The discount requires full-time studies. The discount rate will be cut by five percentage points to 45% in order to keep municipal funding at its present level. Discount will no longer apply to single tickets puchased with a Travel Card.

The HSL Board decided already in 2015 that the discount criteria for pensioner and disabled discounts will remain unchanged, but the discount rates will be harmonized so that the discount is 50% for all. The blind will be entitled to free travel also in the future, as well as passengers traveling with small children in a pram or push chair. Passengers traveling with a wheelchair will also retain the right to travel without a ticket. The age limit for child tickets will be extended to 17 years.

The HSL Board also decided in 2015 to grant a discount on single tickets to residents of HSL municipalities over 70 years of age. In the new zone tariff system, they will get discount on single tickets purchased with the HSL card. The discount will be 50% on adult single tickets and zone extension tickets and it will apply to journeys between 9am and 2pm on all days of the week.

Replacement of Travel Cards and introduction of the zone tariff

HSL will introduce the new public transport fare zones and tickets as soon as the majority of Travel Cards have been changed to new ones. The replacement of cards started on 23 October. The goal is to introduce the new zones in spring 2019. The introduction of the zones was postponed because the replacement of cards could not be started quite as planned.

Further tests are required before the introduction of the zone tariff to ensure everything works as it should. HSL will monitor the situation and make sure that a sufficient number of cards are replaced before the introduction of the new zones. The current tickets and fares will be used until then.