COVID-hit public transport in Oslo appeals to citizens: “It is crucial that passengers pay for their fares”

BusPhoto: Terje Pedersen / NTB
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Public transport in Norway is not only seeing a decrease in paying customers – but a huge decline in customers in general. Here’s how steep the numbers are.

Since the start of the pandemic, industries worldwide have taken major hits. Transport is a particularly affected sector.

We spoke to Ruter AS, the public transport authority in Oslo and the surrounding Akershus County to learn more about how the pandemic has affected operations.

How has the pandemic affected bus operations in general?

Ruter spokesperson Knut-Martin Løken tells us, “Public transport is heavily affected by the pandemic.

“In week 45, the passenger count was 57% of a normal week.”

A decline in paying customers

In April, front doors to buses were closed in Norway to decrease bus drivers’ risk of infection with COVID-19.

This, however, made it impossible to buy a ticket directly from the driver. While it’s possible (and sometimes cheaper) to buy travel cards ahead of time at a kiosk or bus station, the new measures resulted in a decreased share of paying passengers.

On the exact amount, Løken notes, “Before the pandemic, the amount of people who generally do pay for their ticket amounted to 95% of total passengers.

“Because of the current pandemic prevention guidelines though, we are not able to measure the equivalent share at the present time.

“However, we can confirm that the gap between actual passengers and paying passengers is larger than in a normal situation.”

How is the income loss affecting operations?

“Lost income is always serious, as it is potentially detrimental to the public transport system. All ticket sale revenue is reinvested in the public transport.

“In the extraordinary situation of today, the government covers Ruter’s loss of ticket sale revenue.

“However; this will not last past the pandemic.

“It is crucial that passengers pay for their fares now and in the future”, Løken states.

Is there a plan to tackle the issue of non payment?

Løken concludes, “In the future, we are planning to reopen the front doors in the buses.

“For example, we are considering different solutions to better protect drivers.

“But in the current situation, the infection rate does not allow for front doors to open no matter what measures are taken.

“We also continually try to inform the public through various information campaigns.”

Source: Norway Today

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