New fare zones will transform public transport

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 the old Travel Cards have been replaced with new cards. The goal is to introduce the new fare model in early 2019.

Zones

In the new zone model, the Helsinki region is divided into four zone circles with a diameter of about 10 kilometers, radiating from the center of Helsinki. Ticket prices will be based on the distance traveled. The capital region (Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa) will be located in zones A, B and C, Kerava, Sipoo, Tuusula, Kirkkonummi and Siuntio in zone D.

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Tickets and fares

Along with the new fare zones, new tickets will be introduced. In Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa, i.e. in zones A, B and C, you need an AB or BC ticket instead of the current city internal ticket. The regional ticket is replaced by an ABC ticket. If you have a season ticket, you can expand your travel area at a low cost by buying a zone extension ticket.

 

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Frequently asked questions

Why the new zones?

Population in the Helsinki region is growing. The urban structure is becoming more compact and people’s travel needs are changing. The Helsinki region constitutes an integrated commuting area, where residents travel across municipal boundaries. In many places, the closest shopping center, library or swimming hall may be in the neighboring municipality. The region’s municipalities are increasingly developing their services so that it is easy to use them across municipal boundaries.

The current ticket zones follow 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.

In addition, the new model will simplify the ticketing system. The current tickets and their validity zones are diffiicult 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.

How have the zone boundaries been determined?

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 existing and future public transport network, including the Metro to Matinkylä, Ring Rail Line in Vantaa and planned trunk routes and crosstown routes, have been taken into account when drawing the boundaries.

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. For more details, see the map.

HSL’s member municipalities have together agreed on the zone boundaries. In addition, all municipal councils have given their statements on the zone boundaries.

Is it possible to make changes to the zone boundaries?

The HSL Board decided the zone boundaries on 12 June 2012. The decision was made on the basis of extensive preparatory work and statements from the 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. If there is a common understanding in the region that the boundaries should be revised, preparations for changes can be started. 

Why can’t I buy a one-zone ticket?

In the new model, the zones and tickets do not follow the same boundaries. In Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa, i.e. in zones A, B and C, you need to buy an AB or BC ticket. Because zone B is geographically very wide, in the future, an AB or BC ticket will be enough for many who currently need a regional ticket. An AB or BC ticket is 40% cheaper than the current regional ticket.

The new zone model has been designed from the perspective of the whole Helsinki region commuting area and people’s travel needs across the region. The reform is based not only on the shared understanding of the travel zones in HSL’s member municipalities but also on travel surveys studying journeys made in the Helsinki region. In the new model, ticket prices will be based on the distance traveled.

The key idea is to remove the former high price gaps between municipalities and to make travel independent of municipal boundaries. At present, 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.

In the new model, prices and travel are less dependent on municipal boundaries. In many places, the closest shopping center, library or swimming hall is located in the neighboring municipality. The new model makes it easier to use local services. On the other hand, municipal services of people’s home municipalities will be accessible using the most economical ticket also in the future:  In Helsinki with an AB ticket, in Vantaa and Espoo with a BC ticket and in other municipalities with a D ticket.

Zone B is very large, covering parts of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa. Approximately 50% of the regions residents, more than 600,000 people, live in zone B. A whole variety of services, including nearly all shopping centers, are located in zone B. The AB ticket covers journeys from Helsinki to eastern parts of Espoo, e.g. Tapiola and Matinkylä, and to southern and western parts of Vantaa, e.g. the Jumbo shopping center and Myyrmäki. In addition, the AB ticket covers Metro journeys from end to end.

As zone A is geographically too narrow to form an independent travel zone, it has been combined into zone B. If separate tickets for zone A were made available, the price of the ticket should be nearly the same as that of AB tickets, in order to collect a sufficient amount of ticket revenue. Zone A has the highest supply of public transport services in the region and consequently, it is also the zone with the highest service provision costs.

Half of the funding for HSL’s public transport services comes from ticket revenue, the other half from the member municipalities’ tax revenue. It has been agreed that the amount of municipal funding will not be increased, which means a sufficient amount of ticket revenue is needed to maintain the level of service.

Why is the ticket price not directly based on the distance traveled?

Pricing based solely on the distance traveled was studied when preparing the reform and one of the options considered was to use if for value tickets. We studied the systems in place around the world. The systems used elsewhere have onboard devices for checking in and out.

This kind of check in/check out system would be difficult to implement in the Helsinki region because of partly open fare collection system where passengers do not need to validate their season tickets and valid value tickets on commuter trains, metro, trams and trunk route buses 550 and 560. The check in/check out system would slow down public transport.

In addition, a pricing system based solely on the distance traveled would have been expensive to implement. Consequently, the HSL Board decided on 23 March 2010 that ticket pricing will be based on zones.

What will the tickets cost?

The HSL Board will decide the ticket prices for 2019 in autumn 2018. On 12 June, the Board circulated the Operational and Financial Plan 2019-2021 to municipalities for comments. The prices included in the plan are proposals used to calculate the budget. The HSL Board decides the prices on the basis of the municipalities’ statements on the Operational and Financial Plan in autumn 2018.

We have made various calculations of prices during the course of developing the plan. The prices now proposed are based on a growing population and increasing public transport ridership, as well as on keeping the share of municipal funding at 50 percent.

According to the proposal, AB and BC tickets would be slightly more expensive that the current one-zone tickets. In case of 30-day tickets, the price difference would be five euros, in case of single tickets 60 cents. However, as the new ticket allows travel in a much wider area, passengers might actually save some money despite the slight increase in price. For example, a resident of Helsinki, who has a Helsinki internal season ticket, currently pays over 5 euros for a return journey to e.g. Tapiola, Leppävaara or Myyrmäki, as the cheapest single ticket from Helsinki to Espoo now costs 4.20 euros.

The following prices were used in the Operational and Financial Plan for 2019-2021:

 

 

 

 

 

AB/BC/D

ABC/CD  

BCD

ABCD

Single ticket

2.80

4.60 

5.40 

6.50

Season ticket, 30 days

59.70

107.50 

115.80

157.60

Annual ticket/month

53.00

96.00 

104.00 

141.00

The calculations only include some of the new tickets, i.e. single tickets, 30-day season tickets and annual tickets. The new AB or BC annual ticket costs 10 per cent less than the current internal 30-day ticket. The customer commits to an ongoing subscription for a year and gets the ticket for a cheaper montly price, debited once a month. If the customer cancels the subscription before the end of the term, they must pay a sanction fee.

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

You can use the Journey Planner or HSL app to plan your journeys. They will show the new zones and the ticket you need for your journey. In addition, a map will be available on hsl.fi showing in which zone different places are located. The printed route map, which will be updated before the introduction of the new zones, will also show the zone boundaries. At stops and stations, 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 and the tickets available in the current zone. In the Journey Planner, you can track your journey in real-time.

What will happen to valid tickets?

All valid season and day tickets will be automatically converted into new tickets under the new fare structure. The validity areas of tickets will either expand or remain unchanged, 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.

 

If the new season ticket does not suit your travel needs, you can change the validity area of your ticket at a service point for two months without the 6 euro processing fee.

This is how the tickets will be converted:

Old tickets

Zone tickets

Helsinki internal

AB

Espoo and Vantaa internal tickets

BC

Kerava–Sipoo–Tuusula ticket and

Kirkkonummi–Siuntio ticket

D

Regional ticket

ABC

Extended region 2

BCD

Extended region 3

ABCD