The city of Stavanger in Norway has made all public transport – including buses, trains and local ferries – free for residents with the goal of increasing use, reducing the use of cars, and easing the cost of living pressures on its people. The free services are a key step in the city’s green transition, which plans to increase the modal share for active travel and public transit to 70% of all journeys in the city.
Passengers can obtain free tickets online through the municipality’s website, and can also register family members and neighbors who may require help with the technology. Registration requires a bank code and proof of local residency and commuters can also apply for passes. Some express ferries currently still require users to initially pay and then apply for a refund.
In the past, a single journey on the bus cost NOK 42, and a monthly pass NOK 630. Critics of the move state that this is a very minimal cost for the majority of residents, and doubt that it will cause non-bus users to switch their choice of transport.
The city council has set aside NOK 200 million (~US$18.5 million) to fund the initiative, which is still in the experimental phase. The council says the duration of the scheme will “be determined later”, and added that the funding will last longer if residents only collect the free tickets they “actually need and intend to use”. The city feels confident that it will be able to fund the project for at least one year.
“Our municipality has consistently posted strong annual results, which have enabled us to offer this free service,” said Stavanger Mayor, Kari Nessa Nordtun. “We can’t predict the decisions of any new political majority after 2023.”