Mayor of Reykjavík Ólafur F. Magnússon has proposed to make public transport free for everyone in the capital region and thus follow the example of Akureyri, the capital of north Iceland. Students can already ride the bus for free in Reykjavík.
“I hold the opinion that we should investigate the benefits of making buses free for everyone. The change in attitude involved in increasing the number of passengers on buses and thereby decreasing the number of cars on the streets of the city is invaluable,” Magnússon told 24 Stundir.
Reykjavík City Council recently agreed to continue to offer students in secondary schools and university free tickets for the city’s buses. The project was launched last year and according to data from March, 2008, the number of passengers on buses increased by ten percent as a consequence.
The next step is to make public transport free for children and teenagers 18 and younger, senior citizens and disabled people. Mayor Magnússon is keen on making public transport free for everyone before the end of his term.
“Many positive things are involved in free public transport,” Magnússon said. “It is compatible with our ‘Green Steps’ program [an eco-friendly initiative launched by Reykjavík City] and in times where the price of crude oil is high it would definitely improve the financial situation of city residents.”
The mayor has not made any formal proposal on his idea of free public transport yet and it has not been discussed with the representatives of the seven municipalities in the capital region which operate Straetó bs., the Reykjavík Bus Company.
It is also not clear how much free public transport would cost the city. The additional cost of making public transport free for students amounts to ISK 270 million (USD 3.5 million, EUR 2.2 million).