Equal access to public transportation belongs to all students

The board of Tampere regional transport is about to process a reform to the ticket system in their meeting on 28 October. The student unions of Tampere University and Tampere University of Applied Sciences are concerned over several details in the reform.

The reform proposal includes many details that are problematic from the students’ point of view. After the reform, student discounts no longer apply to single-purchase tickets. Instead, students pay a full price when paying for an individual trip. In the future, a student discount would only be available on the Nysse mobile application, and not bus cards. Students under 25 years would continue to pay the extra night fare for night-time tickets both when using a value ticket and when using a season ticket, while older students using a season ticket would be relieved of the night fare. Additionally, the increases in the ticket prices would be unwelcome.

Some parts of the reform would however be welcome. The most glaringly unequal practice will be ended, if the board of regional transport goes through with the plan to include students over the age of 30 among those applicable for the student discount regardless of whether they receive Kela’s study grant. The Helsinki region public transport made a similar reform after the National Non-discrimination and Equality Tribunal deemed the unequal treatment of students of different age to be against the Equality Act.

We also welcome the new expansions to the Nysse mobile application, though we maintain that students should not be forced to use the application to get their discount. Removing the night-time fare from students who use a season ticket is also an excellent reform, but at the same time the new practice would put students under and over 25 years of age in unequal positions without justification.

As such, the student unions suggest the following actions in order to make the ticket system more equal: youth and students should be treated as a singular customer segment to which all residents under 25 years as well as all students over 25 years would belong. These people would no longer be charged for the extra night-time fare. We also suggest making student-discounted season tickets and value tickets equally available both on the mobile application and a traditional bus card.

Reasonably priced, accessible, high-quality public transportation is an important thing for all us students regardless of age. Typically our income is low, and we tend to use public transportation on longer trips. The planned reform will raise ticket prices for many of us. The required use of the mobile application will put those students in a difficult position who do not have a suitable phone in use. The reform also does not treat students of all ages equally. The proposed new ticket prices are inconsistent, and there is no justification for the unequal treatment.

Picture credits: Wille Nyyssönen, Raitiotieallianssi