Return of the private car, act 2

-By Kalle Toiskallio, Aalto University,  Finland

This is just a short note on how public traffic provision in pandemic times can lead to contradictions. As everywhere in Europe the public rule is to avoid participating in, let alone organise public gatherings. Another, decades old public message is to use public transport in urban commuting instead of the private car. In the Helsinki region a very strong transit actor, the Helsinki Region Transport (HRT, owned by 22 municipalities of the Helsinki region), has a monopoly over planning all public transit by public or private providers. It has also successfully promoted public  transport for a long time. Now HRT has restricted the frequency of metro line services as there are fewer passengers, but also because of not having enough metro train drivers. However, and this is my point here, although being a public organisation, HRT seems to be unable to ask people to minimise their use of public transport during corona times. Their only advise to people is to cough correctly. For individuals in social media discussions, however, it seems to be a basic health argument not to use public transit these days at all if possible. In practice this is also much easier now than usual, as main roads and public parking facilities are much less crowded during these days. Even the 10-20c lower than usual gas price nicely supports this “healthy behaviour” of individuals…

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