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Ride-hailing from Bolt comes to Estonia’s island of lighthouses and vikings

Hiiumaa, Estonia's "Island of Lighthouses," is getting a high-tech boost. Ride-hailing unicorn Bolt is launching a pilot project on the island to offer on-demand rides, contributing to sustainable tourism.

Estonia’s second-largest island, Hiiumaa, is known for many things. Often referred to as the “Island of Lighthouses,” it boasts the highest number of lighthouses per coastline in the world, including the Kõpu Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the Baltic region (and a prime photo spot!). The island’s rich history includes Viking settlements and a vibrant maritime culture, famous for its traditional wooden sailing ships.

Now, Estonian ride-hailing unicorn giant Bolt, in collaboration with the local government and the Estonian Ministry of Regional Affairs, has launched a pilot project to bring its services on the island. This will make it possibly the smallest community globally to offer on-demand rides, according to the co-founder Martin Villig.

Hiiumaa, with a year-round population of nearly 10,000, attracts over 130,000 visitors during peak season. People come from far and wide for the island’s pristine beaches and old forests. However, the public transport system struggles to meet the demands of tourists, particularly during the summer months when ferries often sell out of car spaces. Visitors arriving without vehicles face difficulties accessing cultural events and navigating the “last mile” to their destinations.

Orjaku Birdwatching Tower

To bridge this gap, Bolt will now offer its ride-hailing service on the island. Besides boosting the local economy, these efforts will support sustainable tourism by encouraging visitors to leave their cars behind and reduce emissions. Estonia, with its goals to become carbon-neutral in the coming decades, is not leaving tourism out of the equation.

“It is also a win for Bolt, as this pilot provides us with valuable insights to apply in other small communities”, says Villig. The company is no stranger to experimenting. Last year, it introduced an electric-powered “traffic buster” in Malta. In several African countries, Bolt has launched a motorcycle taxi service known as Bolt Boda. And the company has been piloting autonomous delivery robots in Estonia and Lithuania, experimenting with cutting-edge tech in partnership with Starship Technologies.

Hiiumaa is certainly not the only small community in Estonia enjoying the attention of high-profile startups. Põlva, a lovely town in Southern Estonia, recently got the smartest road in Estonia, integrating various intelligent transportation system units to shape driving habits. Viljandi, a small town in Southern Estonia, has deployed a driverless teleoperated robot carrier from Clevon to assist in the local hospital’s operations.

Want to learn more about Hiiumaa attractions and top spots? Read this detailed guide from Visit Estonia.

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