Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone riding the public buses in Tallinn is that you must validate your bus ticket once you board the bus. Sounds easy (and obvious) enough, but if you make a mistake, you probably won't be happy with the outcome.
After arriving in Tallinn after a 10-hour overnight bus ride from southern Lithuania, we were a little frazzled and sleepy upon arrival in Estonia. To make things worse, the tram that would take us from the Eurolines station to the station where we needed to catch the bus to our hostel was in-operational, so we had to make our way blindly about one kilometre on foot. Oh well, that journey made another story.
Anyways, we bought our bus tickets from a newsstand near the bus stop and boarded the bus. I stuck my ticket into the little validation machine thinking that it would automatically stamp it (as the machines do in Germany and Australia), though this was not our luck. We waited until someone boarded the bus two stops later and watched them how to validate it. You simply had to stick the ticket in, and then pull the green thing towards you to punch holes in it. After validating our tickets (and feeling pretty dumb that we didn't figure that out ourselves), we sat in for the ride to our hostel.
Before reaching the next stop, though, our bus pulled over on the side of a fairly busy street next to a red van. Out of the van stormed about five people in black clothing (I thought that the bus was going to get robbed) and entered the bus from every door. They began to ask (or rather demand) to see the passenger's tickets. Because we saw someone do it the prior stop, my friends and I had all ours validated, though there was some unlucky bloke at the back of the bus who wasn't carrying a valid ticket. Two of the workers grabbed him by the arms and forced him out of the bus and into the back of the red van. Now, I don't know what happened to him, but I'd also rather not know. Thank God for the woman who had validated hers one stop earlier, showing us how to do it!
So, what seems like a relatively straightforward task of validating your ticket can turn into an interesting experience. Whenever we rode the bus in Estonia, we made sure that our tickets were properly validated, as none of us wanted to see the back of the red van.