This is how a free bus can be implemented in Stavanger – NRK Rogaland – Local news, TV and radio


On Monday, the news came that Stavanger will spend NOK 200 million on providing its residents with free public transport for one year.

That the majority parties in the oil capital will prioritize a solid green investment has been met with both stormy cheers and lashing criticism.

The questions and challenges are in the queue. And one problem in particular stands out.

– This is how we will practically and technically separate the residents of Stavanger from other passengers. We are now looking at how it is possible to achieve this, but we do not know if it is possible within the time frame, says Leidulf Skjørestad, director of urban environment and development in Stavanger municipality.

Director of Stavanger Municipality, Leidulf Skjørestad.

Photo: Kaj Hjertenes / NRK

According to the plan, the free offer will start to apply as early as 1 July. Now both the municipality, the county council and the public transport company Kolumbus are working to find good solutions.

And they are not the only ones who think the free offer presents challenges.

– That was one of the first things I thought of when I heard the news: How are they going to solve this in practical terms, asks IT expert Torgeir Waterhouse at the company Otte.

Must avoid several traps

Waterhouse, who has worked with IT and IT technology for more than 20 years, believes that it is entirely possible to find good, practical solutions for the scheme.

But there are also several traps you can fall into.

– By all means, the municipality and Kolumbus must not end up in a situation where they collect too much data and information. The municipality obviously has a lot of information about the residents for other purposes, but in this case it is important that you only collect confirmation that people actually live in Stavanger, says Waterhouse.

Torgeir Waterhouse in Otte.

Photo: Hans Kristian Thorbjoernsen

The IT expert is also skeptical of solutions which mean that passengers have to document more than they need and log on to various platforms completely unnecessarily.

– There should not be a lot of steering to drive a bus. Then everyone just gets annoyed because it takes too long. Data exchange must be kept to a minimum.

Pointing to three solutions

According to Waterhouse, there are three solutions to the problem:

  • You create an additional function in the ticket app for Kolumbus where you confirm that you live in Stavanger. You can use your bank ID for this. Once confirmed, you get a free ticket on the app.
  • The citizens of Stavanger log in “my side” at the municipality and receive a personal discount code. The code is used in columbus-app to claim a free ticket for one year.
  • The scheme is introduced without any form of control. This was done when Fredrikstad had a trial project with a free bus for three months in 2019 and 2020.

– They should look for simple solutions that are based on the system that already exists, advises Waterhouse, who has not been presented with all the details of the proposal, but is aware of the matter through the media.

Would rather spend the money on several routes

In Fredrikstad, they tested a free bus for residents in connection with the introduction of a toll ring. The aim was to show people a good alternative to cars and tolls.

– People got on the bus as they wanted, without control. We only had automatic counting which gave us an overview of the number of passengers, says director Børre Johnsen of Østfold Kollektivtrafikk.

He has little faith in the free scheme as a long-term measure.

– All research shows that people care most about the offer being good. Free public transport for a year is a good marketing stunt, but it is not a lasting solution. Then I would rather spend the money on creating a better route offer.

The free scheme in Fredrikstad also included passengers from some neighboring municipalities. Johnsen thinks Stavanger should consider the same.

– We wanted to avoid a division where some were allowed to drive for free and others had to pay. Nord-Jæren is also an area where many people work in one municipality and live in another, he says.

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: free bus implemented Stavanger NRK Rogaland Local news radio


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