Metro congestion to be tackled in the 2020s by increasing bus services

HSL, Helsinki City Transport (HKL) and the metro line company Länsimetro Oy have studied means for ensuring the Metro capacity also in the 2020s. According to current passenger number forecasts, the Metro may reach the limits of its capacity by the middle of the next decade unless measures are taken to alleviate the congestion both in the east and west.

From next August, headways will be reduced when the new section from Ruoholahti to Matinkylä, Espoo opens. There will be two Metro lines, Matinkylä (later Kivenlahti) – Vuosaari and Tapiola–Mellunmäki. On the joint section of route, Tapiola-Itäkeskus, the trains will run every two and half minutes at peak times instead of every four minutes as at present. Shorter headways ensure a sufficient capacity and level of service.

The Metro capacity may be exceeded in the west around Tapiola already in 2022 and in the east around Kalasatama in 2024. However, the current manual driving system does not allow headways to be further reduced from two and half minutes. Therefore HSL, HKL and Länsimetro Oy have studied other means for ensuring the Metro capacity until the end of 2020s.

According to the study, it will probably be possible to keep the Metro’s peak load within HSL’s planning guidelines until the end of 2020s simply by increasing bus services. HSL planning guidelines set out the maximum loads for the Metro and other modes of transport.

In the west, the Metro capacity would be ensured by increasing on-peak bus services in the busiest areas in central South Espoo and Lauttasaari. Another option explored was moving the terminus of the second Metro line from Tapiola to Finnoo, but extending the line would be expensive and new turnaround tracks would have to be constructed in Finnoo.

In the east, the problem would probably be solved by introducing a tram route to Laajasalo. If the tramway is not constructed, the best option would be to increase bus services. For example, the Herttoniemi feeder routes could be extended to Hakaniemi and trunk route 500 could be extended from Herttoniemi to Itäkeskus.

According to estimates, increasing bus services would cost at most three million euros a year.

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