From Iceland — Bus Fare Increase Sharply Criticised

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The announcement from capital area bus service Strætó that they would be raising their fares from October 1st has raised criticism, as well as justifications.

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As reported, from October 1st standard fares will go from 490 ISK to 550 ISK. Other prices increases will also go into effect, including a 30-day bus card for students now being priced at 4,500 ISK and the yearly card priced at 45,000 ISK.

These fare hikes mark a 12.5% increase from last year–the largest fare increase from Strætó in a very long time–but as RÚV reports, Salvör Nordal, the Children’s Ombudsman, has pointed out that the current Reykjavík City Council majority promised that all primary school children would be able to use the bus for free. While children 11 years old and younger can still ride for free, most children remain in primary school until the age of 16. These children have seen their bus fares increase.

Salvör told reporters that she sent communiques to Reykjavík City and other municipalities about this promise last December, and was subsequently ignored. Strætó is owned by the capital area municipalities, which includes Reykjavík.

Strætó said in their announcement that the sharp increase in fares is due primarily to two factors: an increase in oil prices, and that the effects of the early COVID pandemic are still being felt. Raising fares, they said, was the only option in order to avoid having to cut back on services.

Alexandra Briem, a Reykjavík City Councilperson for the Pirate Party who also has a seat on Strætó’s board, told Vísir that it is clear Strætó is in a bad financial situation. Reiterating Strætó’s position on why the fares were raised, she also admitted that this was not in keeping with the policy of the Reykjavík City Council majority.

“Regarding actions that can be taken by the municipalities, this is something that needs to be handled by the municipalities,” she said. “I would also say that we need to examine how we’re running public transport. Is it acceptable that they are always stuck in this straight jacket, and in this endless conflict between the state and the municipalities?”

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