A woman looking out a public transport bus.

Commute gets cheaper, for now

At a time when runaway inflation dents home budgets, some of the urban commuters in Norway received a reprieve in terms of cheaper public transport. Oslo has temporarily slashed the public transport ticket rates by 40%.

The reduction on the monthly pass in the national capital region, for about a month from August 21 to September 15, is attributed to unspent budgetary funds. However, opposition parties were quick to denounce the move as a gimmick ahead of the local elections on September 11.

The local council, steered by a coalition of Labour, Socialist Left and Green parties, had also cut ticket rates for a month towards the end of 2022 as part of its strategy to encourage more people to use public transport. The current cut, however, assumed political color because it coincides with a crucial election season. The Conservatives and Liberals accused the ruling parties of surreptitiously using municipal funds for their election campaign.

The left-of-center parties, including the Reds, are already highlighting free or cheaper public transport facilities as an achievement, primarily citing a bold move by the third-largest city to fully fund public transport since July last year. Stavanger has promised free public transport until 2024, but the decision might hinge on the outcome of the municipal election.

Elections or not, free transport comes as a relief for the residents. Norway’s consumer price index for July was 5.4% higher than the same period last year, largely driven by food and non-alcoholic beverages, furnishings and household equipment, as well as recreation and culture. The index for the transport sector was up 4.3%.

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