Traficom decides not to limit the number of passengers in Pirkanmaa amid decreasing transport usage and active efforts by operators
According to the assessment of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, the measures already implemented under the Communicable Diseases Act are currently sufficient to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic in transport services in the Pirkanmaa region. In light of the decrease in the number of passengers already observed in the region, additional restrictions would not achieve significant results at least while students in grades 7–9 and upper secondary schools remain at home.
In response to a notification by the joint municipal authority for the Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Traficom has issued a decision regarding the need for temporary limitations on the number of passengers to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic in the region’s transport services. The decision is based on analysis carried out by the agency in collaboration with health authorities and transport operators in the region.
Significant reduction in the number of passengers in the region
Reports received by Traficom indicate that the number of passengers carried by public transport in Pirkanmaa has seen a significant decrease. While lockdown measures apply from 8 to 28 March, students in grades 7–9 and upper secondary schools are taught remotely. On 16 March, the region also issued a recommendation on suspending indoor group hobbies for children and young people until 5 April. As a result, limiting the number of passengers allowed on public transport would only affect peak-hour services. Users of local bus services have already been advised to avoid travelling at peak hours, and steps have been taken to increase capacity.
Meanwhile, all scheduled air services have been suspended. They are currently not expected to resume until May at the earliest.
Measures required by the Communicable Diseases Act bring safety
The reports show that the compulsory hygiene and social distancing measures required under the Communicable Diseases Act have been implemented in a comprehensive manner. Steps have been taken to enable social distancing on local public transport by identifying the times at which demand is highest and increasing the frequency of services to ensure that rider density remains at appropriate levels.
Information on health security issues is being made available widely using a range of channels, including websites, digital screens and journey planner applications. Some transport operators have made mask wearing compulsory when using their services. Cleaning and ventilation have been enhanced where possible, and facilities have been introduced to enable passengers to maintain hand hygiene.
Current measures deemed sufficient
Based on the reports it received, Traficom has determined that the measures taken to ensure an appropriate level of health security are sufficient, and no restrictions are currently required as regards the maximum allowed number of passengers.
“The measures taken in accordance with the Communicable Diseases Act have resulted in a significant reduction of health security risks. However, it is essential that regional actors continue to closely monitor the situation and implement any additional measures as necessary to ensure that social distancing remains possible, for example. Reinforced monitoring efforts will be undertaken in the region,” said Traficom Deputy Director-General Jarkko Saarimäki.
Jarkko Saarimäki, Deputy Director-General, tel. +358 29 539 0576. Twitter @Saarimaki
With the entry into force of amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act on 22 February 2021, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom was designated a competent health security authority. The Act empowers Traficom to impose temporary restrictions on the allowed number of passengers in order to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic. Traficom may decide to impose limitations as necessary to control the spread of the virus, if it is apparent that hygiene and social distancing measures are insufficient. Decisions issued to this end may contain obligations for a transport service provider or a transport operator acting on its behalf to limit the maximum number of passengers allowed onboard its services by up to 50%. Such a decision, which applies exclusively to services used to transport more than 10 passengers at a time, may be in force for a maximum of one month and must be withdrawn immediately if the conditions on which it is based are no longer met.