Tour bus turmoil on Trollstigen

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Norway’s famed Trollstigen, a mountain road full of hairpin turns in Romsdal, is a target of turmoil this summer over rules that limit the size of tour buses driving up and down it. Even one that was smaller than the maximum length allowed got hung up on a curve, blocking the route for several hours.

The road known as "Trollstigen" poses challenges for most drivers, not least bus drivers. PHOTO: Romsdalsalpene.com

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Thursday that bus firms and the local tourism industry want to extend the bus length allowed, from 12.4 meters to 13.1 meters. That would accommodate most modern busses and, they hope, turn the tide of tour busses that are dropping Trollstigen from their itineraries.

Local boosters of Trollstigen call it a “tragedy for tourism” that only small busses can legally drive on the popular and scenic route.

“Many tour operators turn around at Geiranger and head south again,” Kjell Gjerde of tourism promoter Destinasjon Molde og Romsdal told DN. “We have to open up for bigger busses.”

State highway officials, however, want to maintain the current limits because there already are too many busses getting hung up on the hairpin turns. They don’t buy the argument that modern busses have a better swing radius even though they’re longer than allowed.

“The problem we have with busses that get stuck is so big that we’re considering stopping some drivers,” said Kjell Bjørvig of the highway department (Veidirektoratet). “It’s not the swing radius, it’s the length of the bus that causes problems.”

Just last week a German tour bus got stuck on a swing, blocking the road for four hours. Another bus driver, however, said it was the bus’ driver that made an error, not the length of his bus, which was under the current maximum.

“The German driver cut his swing much too early,” Lennart Slorafoss of Norske Turistbusser told DN. “I’ve never had a problem,” adding that he doesn’t think today’s three-axel busses should, either.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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