Carbon neutral public transport system in Tartu
About this good practice
Since 2020, public transport service in Tartu, ESTONIA has been fully updated, providing new fleet of city busses, new routes, new options for contact free ticketing and using fully renewable biomethane based transport fuel, making it the first carbon neutral public transit system in Estonia. These updates are continuing the existing innovation on real-time monitoring/ information system and electronic ticketing.
The innovations are supported by the new the line network introduced in 2019, changing bus schedules and locations of stops, replacing diesel-fuelled the bus fleet (EURO 6 busses) with biogas busses using biomethane from waste, and operations were taken over by the new service provider. Users have benefitted from the implementation of an electronic ticketing system and real-time information system supported by digital information boards in the city centre and important highways. The electronic public transport card also allows travelling on county lines, and in addition to Tartu, it is offering contact-free ticketing service in Tallinn public transport network. Changes in public transport coincided with opening the Smart Bike Share service, providing a mixed fleet of conventional and electric bicycles using green certified electricity.
Many of the innovative measures in Tartu public transport system are an outcome of implementing the Smart ZeroCO2 City concept developed by SmartEnCity project
6,7 million euros per year.
Evidence of success
Transition was carried out during the 5 year period using natural gas as transition fuel. Biomethane based transport fuel is saving 4330 tons of CO2 emission annually.
Potential for learning or transfer
Using biogas bus system has several advantages in this but its success highly depends on the availability of the biogas in the region. Coincidentally, a national program for developing biogas reactors took place in Estonia few years before, helping to bring biogas into the mass market. Good synergy between the state initiatives and the local effort has helped municipality to take the initiative to inspire other actors and bring the biogas bus project into the reality.
Before preparing the investments, municipality participated in an INTERREG program project to analyse and understand the main characteristics of such complex system. International projects can be used knowledge transfer and learning, especially when there is no specific knowledge available locally. The project helped to design and pilot the first gas bus lines and prepare to large scale transition from using diesel fuel to natural gas. Natural gas turned out to be a good transition fuel for switching to biogas later.