If you’re traveling by public transport in the capital city region this week – especially to or from Espoo – you’ll be facing some major changes.
The network is undergoing its biggest overhaul in a decade, with new fares, new rules on traveling with children, and a whole new integrated bus and metro route connecting Espoo with Helsinki.
The biggest change is along the southern commuter corridor through Espoo to Helsinki where the launch of the Länsimetro extension in November means bus routes get a radical shakeup.
From 3rd January, dozens of bus routes will terminate at two main ‘hubs’ with passengers expected to change to the metro, at Iso Omena shopping centre in Matinkylä and in Tapiola.
It’s an easy transfer in Matinkylä, as the new bus station is integrated with the metro – and has shops and services on the concourse for bus passengers.
But in Tapiola, the new bus station isn’t scheduled to be completed until spring 2019, so passengers have to walk several hundred metres between the metro and the temporary bus stops.
“Both Matinkylä and Tapiola are city centres of Espoo and therefore natural locations for transport ‘hubs’ where busses connect with the metro” explains Jonne Virtanen, Head of route and timetable planning at transport operator HSL.
“For some people the journey will be faster than before, for some slower. In total the effect on travelling times is positive” he says, adding that the new metro line also connects many other work clusters like Aalto University and Keilaniemi – home to Microsoft and Rovio among other tech companies with thousands of workers – with Helsinki City Centre and destinations further east towards Itäkeskus.
“Many public transport journeys between Southern Espoo and Helsinki will be made [in future] by metro or by bus plus metro” says Virtanen.
Regional bus services from Kirkkonummi to Helsinki will terminate at Matinkylä. And all bus services in Lauttasaari will go via the new metro station.
From the start of the year there are also changes to ticketing across the whole of the capital city region.
Tuusula north of Helsinki, and Siuntio west of Kirkkonummi both joined the HSL network from 1st January, meaning tickets can be bought and used from those destinations to other municipalities all within the greater HSL transport region.
The price of HSL’s mobile tickets has decreased from the start of the year, and the higher overnight ticket price has been scrapped as well – it was considered an unfair penalty for people who work night shifts or start their job in the early hours of the morning. However, HSL’s tickets are no longer available at VR railway station ticket machines, with passengers being encouraged to use the HSL to buy their mobile tickets instead.
And also from 1st January, children up to the age of 7 will travel for free on both HSL’s public transport network and VR’s commuter train network in the capital region. That’s an increase in the age limit for VR services.
More Espoo – Helsinki Commuters
With the expected rise in commuters along the Espoo to Helsinki corridor, new infrastructure has been put in place to cope with more ‘park and ride’ commuters.
“We have estimated that the metro and new bus system will attract about 11,000 new public transport journeys per day, and two out of three of these will be from people who used to take private cars” HSL’s Jonne Virtanen tells News Now Finland.
There’s a thousand new parking spaces spread over several new Länsimetro stations – although notably neither Aalto University nor Keilaniemi have extra parking at stations – and another thousand new bike spaces as well.
The new ‘hub’ system also means that there is a more dense bus schedule within Espoo, going between the major population centres like Matinkylä, Espoonlahti, Tapiola, Espoo Keskus and Leppävaara.