New zones

There will be major changes to Helsinki region public transport when the current fare zones based on municipal boundaries will be replaced by new zones. The new zones will be introduced, once all new devices have been installed, Travel Cards have been changed to new ones and the entire information reform package has been completed.

 

 

Zones

In the new zone model, the Helsinki region has been divided into four zone circles with a diameter of about 10 kilometers, radiating from the center of Helsinki. The capital region (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, and Kauniainen) will be located in the three inner Zones A-C, the neighboring municipalities in Zone D.

 

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Tickets and fares

Along with the new fare zones, new tickets will be introduced. In the capital region, i.e. Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, the minimum purchase will be two zones. In addition, there will be zone extension tickets. Ticket prices will be decided in autumn 2018.

 

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Frequently asked questions

Why the new zones?

The aim of the reform is to provide smooth, attractive and fair public transport services for the growing number of inhabitants in the Helsinki region. The urban structure is becoming more compact and people’s need to use public transport will increase.

During the next decade, population in the Helsinki region is forecast to increase by half a million. The aim of the zone model is to make the capital region more coherent and easily accessible.

At present, the fare zones follow municipal boundaries. The problem is that short journeys across municipal boundaries are expensive in proportion to the journey length. Nowadays, the Helsinki region constitutes an integrated commuting area, where residents travel across municipal boundaries every day. In the future, municipalities in the region aim to develop cross-boundary day care, health, educational and library services. The existing zone system does not support this.

One of the problems of the current fare and ticketing system became apparent when Sipoo joined HSL at the beginning of 2012. Sipoo is currently part of the third zone just like its neighbor, Kerava, but also Sipoo and Helsinki are neighbors. In the current system, there is a two-zone price gap between Sipoo and Helsinki.

Thanks to the new fare system, the capital region will amalgamate into one. Short journeys from one municipality to another will become cheaper and ticket prices will be more based on the distance traveled. The boundaries of the new zones are primarily based on distance from Helsinki city center. Unlike at present, the boundaries do not follow municipal boundaries. This enables flexible expansion of the system.

The Executive Board of HSL decided the zone boundaries in June 2012. Tuusula and Siuntio joined HSL at the beginning of 2018.

How are the zones determined?

The municipal councils of HSL’s member municipalities have agreed on the zone boundaries. In addition, all municipal councils have given their statements on the zone boundaries.  When determining the zone boundaries, the location of basic municipal services, key traffic routes, waterways, forest areas and fields were taken into account.

In addition, the boundaries take account of the existing and future public transport network, including the Metro to Matinkylä, Ring Rail Line in Vantaa and planned trunk routes and crosstown routes.

The boundaries closely follow zoning, housing and traffic routes. Helsinki spreads into Zones A, B and C, while Vantaa and Espoo are in Zones B and C. Kauniainen is in Zone B and the neighboring municipalities in Zone D.

Zone B is mainly bounded by Ring Road III in the east and Lake Pitkäjärvi in the west. However, the boundaries are placed so that they do not split contiguous residential areas. For example, the area surrounding Vuosaari harbor belongs to Zone B, in Espoo the boundary runs to the west of Matinkylä. Consequently, the West Metro runs entirely in Zones A and B. Huopalahti, which is an important interchange e.g. on journeys to Helsinki Airport, is in Zone B.

The rest of Espoo and Vantaa are in Zone C, bounded by the neighboring municipalities.

How do I know the zones I need to pay for?

You can use the Journey Planner to plan your journeys. The planner will show the new zones and the ticket you need for the journey. At stops, the zone is shown on stop signs as well as on the posters on bus stop shelters. On board, Travel Card readers display the zone you are in. Onboard audio announcements alert passengers when changing zones. In the mobile version of the Journey Planner, you can track your journey in real-time.

Why can’t I buy a one-zone ticket in the capital region?

In the capital region, i.e. Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa you always have to buy a two-zone ticket. In practice, there will be no major changes to the travel zones: a two-zone AB ticket or BC ticket broadly corresponds to the current city internal ticket, while a three-zone ABC ticket corresponds to the current regional ticket. According to current plans, AB and BC tickets will be of the same price. In Espoo and Vantaa, all municipal services will be accessible using this most economical ticket also in the future. 

The benefit of the new ticketing model is that it makes it even easier for people to choose the ticket that best suits their travel needs. In the future, a cheaper AB or BC ticket will be enough for many who currently need a regional ticket.

The reform will remove the former price gaps between municipalities. The new pricing makes transport more equal as the fares are based more on the distance traveled than the municipality of residence. At the same time, it makes travel between municipalities more attractive.

Desired changes to zone boundaries

The Executive Board of HSL decided the zone boundaries on 12 June 2012. The decision was based on extensive research and statements from the member municipalities. The decision is final and cannot be appealed. The performance of the zone model will be assessed once the new system has been in use for a few years.

What will happen to valid tickets?

All valid season and day tickets will be automatically converted into new tickets under the new fare structure overnight. After that, only new tickets will be sold.

The old, converted tickets will be valid until their expiry dates but their validity areas will change. In practice, the validity area will expand (internal tickets for Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa as well as 2-zone extended regional tickets) or remain the same (internal tickets for the neighboring municipalities, regional tickets and 3-zone extended regional tickets), with the exception of Östersundom, which will be in Zone C in the new system. In the future, residents of Östersundom will need an ABC ticket to travel to Helsinki city center.

Before loading a season for a long time, it is worth finding out whether an AB or BC ticket would be enough in the future.