Like a local: Estonian public transport


Greetings to you all! The more you know before mobility, the faster your mobility and integration will be! The Estonian Public Transportation System provides a time efficient and easy to memorize connections for us, students. Moreover, as student residents, we get to move around as much as we want for FREE! This is your friend Islam walking you through the whole process.

Nowadays, we tend to rely so much on map applications and online times for public transportation. Sometimes, those times are not accurate due to delays and traffic jams, but that’s never the case in Tallinn and Tartu! All the buses are connected to an online tracking system designed to keep everyone informed about the real arrival time, so no one would miscalculate their arrivals.

How can we track these times, by using their website and mobile application (which I’ll speak about in details below). Also, you can rely on map applications: Google Maps, Ways, Apple Maps, etc.

What type of transportation is being used?

In Estonia, there are several means of transportation that you should familiarize yourself with if you’re moving inside city borders. There are trams, trolleys and buses. In Tallinn, buses have various colors; blue and green; in Tartu, the buses have a specific color, red! They look as follows:


A tram in Tallinn. Photo: In Your Pocket.


A bus in Tallinn. Photo: In Your Pocket.


Buses in Tartu. Photo:


A trolleybus in Tallinn. Photo: In Your Pocket.


How can I use public transportation?

Firstly, you’ll need to have your own transportation card. There are several options. You can buy the regular transportation card from any R-Kiosk. You could use this card for yourself, and it can also be used to upload money for individual tickets, weekly and even monthly tickets for your friends and relatives when they visit you! (They can also buy 1 time use tickets from the drivers directly) You will probably need to upload money on the card for use of the public transportation if you don’t receive your Residence Permit before your arrival.


Estonian R-Kiosk. Photo: Furninstal.


A local transportation card. Photo:


Student ISIC card. Photo: Swedbank Eesti.


Alternatively, as a student, I advise you your student card which is issued by your University and can also be issued as a bank card from your Estonian local bank. It is very convenient and can be used for as a student identification, a bus card and if issued from your bank, a bank card!


What's Next?

Then, you’ll need to verify you’re a student using your Estonian Residence Permit. You’ll need to go to website, go to card personalization and personalize your card. The page looks like this, all you need to do is fill in the correct information and click Card Personalization:




After uploading money or personalizing your card, you can hop on the transport vehicles and drive! But before, you’ll need to verify your ticket. To do so, every time you get on a new transport, you’ll need to swipe your card on one of the verification machines attached to the poles of each transport vehicle. They look like this:


Card verification. Photo:


The only thing you’ll need to do after is chill, enjoy the ride, look around and cherish the memory!

Oops, don’t forget! Before arriving to your stop, press on the stop button that is on the poles of the vehicle!

If you’re still unsure how to use the public transportation or have a question concerning the process, reach out to us Student Ambassadors and we’ll help you as much as we can! We’re here for you!

 Text: Islam Aboulela