School groups could in the future use public transport services in the Helsinki region free of charge when travelling with a teacher, according to a decision made by the Executive Board of Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) on 30 October 2018. The final decision on transport charges, including tickets for school groups, will be made by the HSL General Meeting on 27 November.
From the beginning of 2019 onwards, municipal school administrations would no longer be charged fees for public transport in the Helsinki region. Free use of public transport has for long been sought by Helsinki – especially teachers and cultural institutions in Helsinki have expressed wishes to exempt schools from public transport charges.
An important goal in education in Helsinki, as stated in the Helsinki City Strategy, is to use the entire city as a learning environment. This means that schools should be able to utilize the versatile opportunities offered by Helsinki for learning outside the classroom. This would support phenomenon-based learning and other learning concepts. Free use of public transport would also increase equality among students.
“Free-of-charge student tickets for schools are a major improvement for schools located far from the city centre. They give all students equal opportunities for learning in different parts of the city. City-centre schools are already familiar with the city’s museums, and I’m hoping that the removal of transport charges from schools will encourage all school groups to explore Helsinki more than before,” says Pia Pakarinen, Helsinki Deputy Mayor for Education.
Nasima Razmyar, Helsinki Deputy Mayor for Culture and Leisure, is delighted with the decision of the HSL Executive Board.
“Helsinki offers a broad range of cultural and sports services, which will now be better available to school groups thanks to this decision. It’s important for children and young people to get to know Helsinki’s cultural and sports services. I believe that a visit to a cultural institution or a sports site will inspire them to use Helsinki’s cultural and sports services at other times as well.”
The General Meeting of HSL on 27 November 2018 will make decisions on the budget estimate and budget proposal for the HSL municipal alliance.