Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was one of the first cities in the world to implement true Account-Based Ticketing (ABT) for public transport. The system was introduced in 2004, enabling Estonian ID-code holding citizens to have the right to buy tickets and season passes online or via mobile phones. For each citizen, travel rights were stored in the ABT system’s back-office and verified against a person’s ID code, using handheld devices onboard vehicles by ticket inspectors. Since then, Tallinn’s ABT system has evolved several times, introducing self-service validators with closed-loop travelcards, 2D code acceptance, and more recently, contactless EMV bank card payments. There have also been multiple integrations with other Tallinn city services, such as Park & Ride and tourist sightseeing packages.
The Park & Ride solution (introduced in 2015) was envisioned in partnership with Tallinn’s Transport Department, as a means to encourage people to leave their cars outside of the city center and use public transport to move around the city instead. As an incentive to do so, Tallinn City Council enforced new parking tariffs, while at the same time, offering both free parking and public transportation to Park & Ride customers. The “free of charge” principle applies when Park & Ride customers use public transport at least once during the same day.
Tallinn’s public transport ticketing also extends to the surrounding county, making every day commuting more convenient for people from the suburban region. The system utilises a single e-wallet for both city and county service lines, but also numerous other additional city services, like Tallinn Zoo ticket purchasing or entrance to various Tallinn sports facilities and museums.
Besides, Visa and Mastercard, branded contactless bank cards (cEMV) are accepted across all Tallinn public transport vehicles, making the usage of buses, trams, and trolleybuses especially convenient for tourists and other occasional travelers. An hourly ticket can be purchased directly from the validator by tapping a contactless bank card and the system automatically applies daily capping, removing the hassle associated with figuring out ticket types and prices.
The automatic entitlements application was also implemented by developing integrations with national and municipal registries. This eliminated the need for citizens to manually apply for the discount they are entitled to. Instead, the system automatically verifies a person’s right to a discounted ticket price – for example, if you're a student, elderly, or from another entitled passenger group.