Helsinki region found the means to halve transport emissions

The Helsinki region found the means to halve transport emissions - HSL Executive Board approved the Land Use, Housing and Transport Plan, MAL 2019.
Transport emissions in the Helsinki region will be reduced by half compared to 2005 by 2030. Transport of people and goods will be facilitated with transport investments of four billion euros. A road charge model suitable for the Helsinki regionwill be developed. A total of 16,500 new homes will be built annually. These goals and concrete means to reach them are included in the Helsinki Region Land Use, Housing and Transport Plan, MAL 2019. An agreement between the Government and municipalities of the region will be negotiated on the basis of the plan.

Created in cooperation by the entire region, the plan lists several concrete means that will make the region low-emission, attractive, prosperous and vibrant by 2030. In its meeting on 26 March 2019, the HSL Executive Board approved, in its part, the Helsinki Region Land Use, Housing and Transport Plan, MAL 2019 that will help to achieve these goals.

The plan includes a statutory transport system plan for the Helsinki region, for which HSL is responsible. It determines how the transport system will be developed in the years to come to make it more functional. The measures set out in the MAL 2019 Plan ensure that the entire transport system will be made more sustainable.

Four billion euros will be invested in sustainable mobility

The Helsinki region is growing at a fast pace. For the growth to benefit both current and future residents and for the negative effects to be as low as possible, the growth in traffic will be directed to sustainable modes of transport.

The MAL 2019 Plan proposes transport investments of some EUR 4 billion, of which 85% will be directed to public transport.

“The investments have been planned to make people move in a manner that benefits their own health and also the environment. If the investments are made at the correct time, they will also ensure that services, housing and jobs are located in areas with sustainable mobility,” says Suvi Rihtniemi, the Executive Director of HSL.

The plan is to invest the most, some EUR 3.3 billion in the next ten years, in rail transport. The biggest public transport investments to be launched in the 2020s include the Espoo city rail link to Kauklahti, depots along the main rail line and the coastal line for commuter trains and the Pisara Rail Loop to be built under downtown Helsinki. Capacity of the Pasila-Riihimäki rail line will be increased, and passenger transport on the Kerava-Nikkilä rail line will be started once land use has been developed to a stage where there are enough commuter train users. The light rail network in the region will be expanded by five new lines in Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo. Capacity of the metro system will be ensured by means of a turnaround track and automation.

Cycling will be promoted by creating a competitive main cycling network. The network will be improved in the next few years by, for example, building a cycling tunnel below Helsinki Central Railway Station and a cycling route between Järvenpää, Tuusula and Kerava along the main rail line.

“The more transport options there are available, the more residents the transport system will serve. Each pedestrian, cyclist or public transport user reduces congestion,” says Sini Puntanen, Director of HSL’s Transport System and Research Department.

Road investments will be made to improve the flow of freight traffic accross the country. Freight traffic connections will be improved from Järvenpää towards Finnish national road 3 in Central Uusimaa, on Ring Road III and on national road 4, for example.

“The means included in the MAL 2019 Plan will effectively prevent congestion. This will make it easier for everyone to move about and improve operating conditions for business and industry by, for instance, improving accessibility of labor and speeding up freight and delivery traffic,” Puntanen explains. 


Transport emissions will be halved by 2030

One of the key goals of the MAL 2019 Plan is to halve greenhouse gas emissions from transport. The aim is to reduce transport emissions by half compared to 2005 by 2030, in compliance with the national transport emission target. The most efficient means of reducing emissions include a strong increase of the share of electric and low-emission vehicles, the introduction of road charges and reducing emissions from buses.

Road charges are an effective means to prevent congestion and facilitate the moving of people for whom a private car is absolutely necessary. When combined, better public transport and road charges will reduce car, public transport and freight travel times. Furthermore, road charges will reduce the number of accidents, noise and particulate emissions in the region.

“The Government and municipalities must develop a road charge system for the Helsinki region, assess its impacts and prepare for its commissioning. Legislative amendments will also be necessary before road charges can be tested. Even though the means available in the MAL 2019 Plan are comprehensive, road charges need to be introduced to achieve the desired reduction in emissions,” Puntanen says.

Surveys on optimal models, impact assessments and the required legislation for transport pricing will be prepared first, before making the necessary decisions in the region.

The share of electric cars can be increased by changing taxation and making sure that there are enough charging stations. Parking policy must direct people towards sustainable mobility. In addition to buses, emissions from heavy traffic must be reduced. 


Some 16,500 homes to be built annually

The Helsinki region is growing. It has been estimated that in 2050, the region will be home to 2 million people. One of the goals of the MAL 2019 Plan is to make the region attractive and functional for the current and future residents.

Growth is directed to the existing urban structure to ensure that the region develops sustainably. The objective is to create most of the homes and jobs in the primary development zones specified in the plan, i.e. in areas where public transport is a competitive option.

A sufficient number of new homes will be built while ensuring good quality of the living environment. According to the MAL 2019 Plan, the aim is to build 16,500 new homes in the region each year. 


MAL 2019 Plan to be followed by agreement between Government and municipalities

HSL is responsible for the preparation of the transport system section of the MAL 2019 Plan. The objective is to have the plan approved by decision-makers in the spring of 2019. Implementation of the plan will start once it has been approved.

The HSL Executive Board approved the MAL 2019 Plan in terms of transport and its own member municipalities at its meeting on 26 March. In the case of the municipalities that are not members of HSL, the transport sections of the plan will be approved separately for each municipality based on a proposal by the KUUMA Board. The Helsinki Region Cooperation Assembly (HSYK) discussed the land use and housing sections of the plan at its meeting on 28 March. Once it has approved the plan, HSYK will send it to the municipalities to be approved.

The MAL 2019 Plan will be the starting point for an agreement on land use, housing and transport between the Government and the municipalities, which will be prepared this year. The agreement will include the most important measures in the next few years, such as major rail projects and housing production. The MAL 2019 Plan will also be used as the starting point for the first twelve-year nation-wide transport system plan.

A draft of the Helsinki Region Land Use, Housing and Transport Plan and a draft on the impact assessment report on the plan were circulated for comments from 14 November 2018 to 18 January 2019.  A total of 28 statements and 20 opinions were submitted. Furthermore, 775 people replied an online survey on the draft plan.

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