Norway has figured out the secret to making buses run efficiently

Keep an eye on Oslo if you want to see the future of public transportation. 

The Norwegian capital city has plans to go car-free by 2019. It’s also working to make its public transport as easy and as efficient as possible for passengers.

Frode Hvattum, the head of strategy for Oslo’s public transport authority Ruter, told Streetsblog writer Clarence Eckerson Jr. that Ruter is aiming for 5% ridership growth per year. By comparison, New York City’s sprawling transit authority can only boast half that growth at 2.6%.

Hvattum also explains how the city’s bus system runs so well. For one, the vehicles are long and flexible, with folding bellows that help the buses make sharp turns. They also have four entry points, which make for easier and faster onboarding and off-boarding. And passengers have several ways to pay. They can seek out ticket machines at major tram and bus stations, order a refillable plastic card online, or pay through an app on their phone.

The public transit in Oslo is built on an honour system; Ruter assumes you’ve paid if you’ve boarded a bus. To deter fare evasion, Ruter authorities do occasional spot checks — when passengers are asked for proof of payment, they have to show paper receipt or a blinking confirmation on their phone. 

Of course, it’s important to note that Oslo has a relatively small population of around 650,000, so a similar honour system might not work for larger cities. Los Angeles, for instance, had trouble with the honour system on its light rail and subway lines.

On a smaller scale, though, Oslo’s transportation system looks like it’s going in the right direction.

Watch Streetsblog’s interview with Frode Hvattum below.

 

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