Norway’s prime minister has been trying to prepare Norwegians for an expensive winter ahead and now Oslo officials are doing the same. They claim that the capital’s notoriously high public transport fares may finally decline, but warn the city will have to operate under a “crisis budget” and tough measures to conserve electricity.
Thermometers in all public buildings will be lowered, lights will be turned off at night at even a brand new public swimming pool at Manglerud that’s due to open next weekend may end up closing again very quickly. There currently isn’t enough money in its operating budget to cover ever-rising electricity bills.
All city agencies have been ordered to cut their electricity consumption. “These are acute measures,” Einar Wilhelmsen, the city’s finance director, told newspaper Aftenposten. Outdoor lighting will be reduced, there may not be any outdoor skating rinks and city employees will need to get used to washing their hands in cold water.
“No one (in schools, day centers or nursing homes) will freeze,” Wilhelmsen hastened to add, but students will likely need sweaters in the classroom.
The city wants more Oslo residents, meanwhile, to return to public transport systems after the Corona crisis, and intends to reduce Oslo’s high fares as an incentive. A new and cheaper ticket system, though, looks likely to apply only to those who use their mobile phones to buy tickets since it will only lower fares automatically every time it’s used. Single-fare tickets thus may remain at current levels (equivalent to around USD 4 even for a short bus or tram ride) for those who don’t download the transport system’s app. That’s likely to include visitors to Oslo.