Public transit gets more expensive

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A new study of public transit prices in Norway shows that bus, train and tram fares have increased much more than the overall inflation rate. The high fares have been imposed despite claims from most politicians that they want to encourage use of public transit systems.

Fares on Oslo's public system have gone up a lot in recent years. PHOTO: Views and News

Tram and bus fares have always been much higher in Oslo, for example, than in most other national capitals. It currently costs around NOK 30 (USD 5) for a single ride on a city bus, tram or metro. In Trondheim, a single fare ticket has also risen to NOK 30, from NOK 22 in 2005, meaning a fare hike of 36.4 percent.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) took a closer look at how fares have increased during the past five years. While overall prices have gone up less than 12 percent since 2005, transit fares have risen 15 percent on average.

Bus fares alone are now 20 percent higher in Oslo than they were five years ago. In 2005, it cost NOK 20 to buy a ticket in advance on the city’s tram and metro system. Now it costs NOK 26, equal to a fare hike of 30 percent.

A so-called Flexi-kort, a card allowing eight rides on public transit within Oslo, cost NOK 150 in 2005. Now it costs NOK 190, up 26.7 percent.

By contrast, the price of gasoline has gone up around 12 percent, even though taxes make it expensive in comparison to many other countries. A gallon of unleaded gasoline in Norway currently costs around USD 8.50.

“This is crazy, and sends out a very bad signal,” Lars Haltbrekken, leader of environmental group Naturvernforbundet, told NRK. He said the high public transit fares “basically encourage people to use their private cars instead of traveling collectively.”

Politicians contacted by NRK weren’t particularly regretful. Jøran Kallmyr, in charge of transportation for the city of Oslo, pointed out that the price of a monthly commuter pass was reduced a few years ago, making it more attractive to take public transit to work or school. He equated the fare “changes” to a “successful adjustment.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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