Passengers are to get refund for delays in public transport services
In the future, those travellers who rely on public transport in the Greater Helsinki area will be refunded if a bus, train, Metro, tram, or even a ferry service is delayed.
If a public service runs late, passengers may be entitled to a refund if they are delayed for more than 20 minutes.
The maximum refund would be EUR 50, provided that the passenger in question is able to produce a receipt for a taxi journey, for example. The Board of Helsinki City Transport (HKL) is to handle the matter this week, but in principle, the policy has been decided upon.
”According to the planned refund policy, a passenger could take a taxi if a public service vehicle fails to appear. He or she should then make a complaint to a new organisation that will operate as a public transport authority in the Helsinki region from the beginning of 2010”, says Planning Chief Ville Lehmuskoski from HKL.
From the beginning of 2011, the new policy is to apply to buses, Metro trains, trams, and local commuter trains, as well as HKL's ferry services. The compensation could be given in cash or by loading value on the passenger's travel card.
A similar refund system has been used in many other Nordic countries for several decades. The Finnish version is based on the experiences gathered in Norway and Sweden.
In the neighbouring countries, passengers have been generally satisfied with the refund system.
Somewhat paradoxically, the compensations to be paid for delays are also seen as one way to improve passengers’ general impression of the reliability of public transport.
”We admit that we sometimes have problems. However, we undertake to serve our customers and bear the responsibility for them even in such situations. When passengers rely on us, we must make sure that they will reach their destinations”, Lehmuskoski noted.
The costs of the reform would depend on the area covered.
It is estimated that the annual number of claims for refund resulting from delays in public transport would be 42,000 in the entire capital area.
In terms of money, this is roughly equal to EUR 700,000.
In a trial run on Helsinki’s internal routes, a total of 17,000 delays could cost EUR 300,000.
The underlying factor behind the new policy is a hope that an increasing number of commuters would choose public transport and leave their own cars at home.
”For travellers, reliability is the most important factor”, Lehmuskoski stresses.
At the same time, the planned refund scheme would serve as a sort of quality guarantee.
”With the help of the guarantee and refund policy we would receive almost real-time information about problems, and the required improvements could be made without delay”, Lehmuskoski continues.
When money is available, people might be tempted into misusing the system.
However, Lehmuskoski does not believe that there would be any large numbers of bogus taxi journeys.
”Based on the experiences made in other Nordic countries, such abuses hardly ever happen”, he says.
”The passenger in question will have to be able to prove where the delay occurred. It is rather unlikely that a random taxi journey would coincide with a convenient public transport problem”, Lehmuskoski concluded.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Trains are often late at one in two Finnish stations (30.4.2009)
Helsinki City Transport to cut ticket prices in May (4.3.2009)
Commuters´ patience tested by delays while approaching Helsinki station (1.2.2007)
Helsinki City Transport
Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council (YTV): Metropolitan Area in the Future