FěROYAR AV NŢGGJUM 2009

Back to the Faroe Islands again in 2009 - plus subsequent updates

 

 
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This is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information.


Hendan sÝ­an vÝsur gamlar tÝ­arŠtlanir og ikki tŠr i­ eru galdandi n˙.        Denne side viser gamle k°replaner og ikke de aktuelle tider.








Five years since my last visit in 2004 and now in August 2009 I am on my way to Tˇrshavn again, one of my favourite cities.  As before I arrive and depart with the Faroese flag carrier, Atlantic Airways, flying from London Stansted direct to Vßgur.  Friendly service, free snacks and drinks and smiling stewardesses!  My accommodation on this visit is at the newly opened Hotel Streym, where I am made very welcome.  The hotel is reasonably priced and is conveniently situated along the seafront in Yviri viđ Strond, just a few minutes walk from the main Tˇrshavn bus and ferry terminal at Farst°­in.

The principal change has been the opening of the 6.5 kilometers long under sea road tunnel from Leirvik to Klaksvik in April 2006, linking the islands of Eysturoy and Borđoy, and allowing the through operation of the route 400 buses from the capital Tˇrshavn to the second largest town, Klaksvik.  So ferry D˙gvan no longer sails its traditional scenic route from Leirvik, but the through bus journey now only takes an hour and a half.

Bygdalei­ir

What changes did I find in 2009?  Some routes had changed hands between operators of course.  There were many new Volvos, and it seemed that few of the vehicles I had seen five years ago were still around.  Many operators have buses with personalised registrations.  The Saksun route is no more, and bus services on the southernmost island of Suđuroy have been simplified.  Indeed the ferry to Suđuroy is now worked by an even larger newer Smyril, the fifth ship to bear the name, and introduced in October 2004 to the important two hour crossing.

Through talking with several of the Bygdaleiđir drivers some of their hours of work seemed long by UK standards.  One driver suggested there was no comparable legislation on drivers permitted hours in the Faroe Islands, and that working days of 12 to 13 hours overall duration are not uncommon.  As example, on Sandoy a driver on the 600 route told me he does the entire public service from start to finish in week one (a fourteen hour day), then in the second week does only school runs (a six hour day).  This results in 12 consecutive days work followed by 9 days rest to complete a three week cycle.

The main trunk route 400 from Tˇrshavn to Klaksvik is now operated by HZ Bussar of Streymnes, with four Volvo 9700s (KH 442, UP 705, KE 401 and VS 766) providing the base service of eleven journeys each way (five each way on Saturday and Sunday).  The main service is provided by three Klaksvik-based vehicles and one based in Tˇrshavn. This is a busy route from the capital to the second largest town, and it provides a range of bus connections as under:

  •      at Oyrarbakki to route 200 to Eiđi, route 201 to Gjˇgv, route 202 to Tj°rnuvik and route 205 to Funningur;
  •      at Skßlabotnur to route 480 to Strendur and route 481 to Oyndarfj°rđur;
  •      at S°ldarfj°rđur to route 440 to Runavik and Toftir;
  •      at G°tudalur to route 410 to Fuglafj°rđur;
  •      at Klaksvik to route 500 to Viđareiđi and route 504 to Kunoy (also the ferry 'Sam' to Kalsoy).

A variety of different sized vehicles work on the feeder routes, full-sized, midi and mini.  For example the 480, run by H°jbilar of Strendur, was covered by Iveco Daily EU 746 or Mercedes 815 D20-seater DM 519.  The 440 was being worked by Mercedes 20-seater JL 394 of J O Langgaard of S°ldarfj°rđur, whilst the 410 had a Volvo B12 of A P Busskoyring (Andreas Poulsen) of Syđrug°ta, registered AP 616.   In Klaksvik, AP 554, a Renault Master 17-seater from the same operator was working the 500 to Viđareiđi.

Jˇn Thomasen of Kvivik operates the 100 from Tˇrshavn to Vestmanna; the 101 to Kirkjub°ur and GamlarŠtt for the Sandoy ferry; and the busy 300 to the Airport and the townships on the island of Vßgur (reached by tunnel).  There is some interworking of routes, eg a 300 arriving in Tˇrshavn from the Airport will go on as a 101 to GammlarŠtt.  This raises an interesting question though. As there do not appear to be any spare Thomasen vehicles or drivers in Tˇrshavn, what would happen if the inbound 300 was delayed awaiting a flight at Vßgur, given that the 101 in turn gives connection at GammlarŠtt to Teistin on the Sandoy ferry! Again more smart Volvo 9700s, including TF 505, JU 330, DP 232 and LK 694.

These are just a few examples of some dozen or more sub-contractors who provide vehicles for the Bygdaleiđir timetabled bus network on behalf of SSL - Strandfaraskip Landsins.  There are also many other operators based throughout the islands concentrating on charters and excursions, including also several minibuses operated by taxi firms and providing a shuttle service to and from the airport.

Published figures for the Bygdaleiđir buses show that in 2008 566,560 passengers were conveyed overall (down from 604,525 in 2007 but almost identical to the 2005 figure of 566,748).  The highest number of passengers recorded is unsurprisingly for route 400 (2008 = 149,874).  Second busiest is route 300 serving the airport with a 2008 figure of 85,946, followed as a close third by routes 440 and 480 (joint figure 82,901).  The lowest figure is for route 504 from Klaksvik to Kunoy with just 869 passengers for the year, down by a half from the 2006 figure of 1,647.

Some changes to the Bygdaleiđir contractors occurred from May 2013, with the 400 Torshavn - Klaksvik route passing from HZ Bussar to Askham Bussar of Klaksvik (who also regained the northernmost routes 500 and 504 they had operated in the past); whilst both the Sandoy routes 600 and 601 passed to Handilsh˙si­.

  line up at terminal in Torshavn

Farst°đin terminal in Tˇrshavn on a summer Saturday morning in 2009  - a fine line up of Volvos!




Busslei­in


It was the 30th anniversary of the town buses on 8th July, 1979 to 2009.  There were fewer changes noted in Tˇrshavn that year than with Bygdaleiđir.  Circular routes 1, 2 and 3 had each been increased in frequency from half hourly to twenty minute headway in February 2008 (hourly evenings, Saturdays and Sundays), necessitating a weekday run-out of nine vehicles. The intent was to reduce car use, but I'm not sure that was totally successful, although the two year old free fares policy has seen a modest increase in the number of passengers.  A further change occurred from 1st August 2009 when Bussleiđin service was eliminated altogether on Sundays and after 1400 hours on Saturdays.

The longer 'outer suburban' routes 4 and 5 to K°llafjor­ur and Kaldbak are combined in operation on Saturdays.  Route 4 actually reaches out some 22 kilometers into the countryside, but still within the boundaries of the expanded Tˇrshavn municipality (which now also includes the island of Nolsoy).  One vehicle observed on service 4 was an older red-liveried Volvo B12 registered FD200 (not low floor, and also seen in 2004). 

A reminder of the Busslei­in routes:

1    Hamarin - Steinatun - Gundadalur - Handilssk˙lin - Steinatun - SMS - Steinatun - Hamarin (Mouritsens Bussar)

2    Argir - Steinatun - Eystursk˙lin - Hvitanes - Inni ß G°tu - Steinatun - Argir (Mouritsens Bussar)

3    Nor­asta Horn - Steinatun - Millum Gilja - L°gmannabreyt - Eystursk˙lin - Steinatun - Nor­asta Horn (Mouritsens Bussar)

4    Farst°­in - Signab°ur - K°llafjor­ur  (Gunnurs Bussar, Signab°ur)

5    Farst°­in - Kaldbak  (Gunnurs Bussar, Signab°ur)

Steinatun is the town centre timing and transfer point, whilst Farst°­in is the ferry and country bus terminal.  Routes 2 and 3 run to time usually, route 1 is frequently a few minutes late, having more demanding circuits to accomplish on each hourly cycle.

This is a typical day's run out for Mouritsens Bussar on routes 1, 2 and 3, observed on an August Friday lunchtime in 2009 at Steinatun:

Route 1:    NV 851    JL 757    MB 831
Route 2:    MB 255    MB 580   MB 047
Route 3:    MB 429    MB 069    MB 617

All are Volvos except for a single Scania NV 851. 

MB 069 / 580 / 617 / 831 are Volvo B10/Aabenraa bodied buses, ex-Odense Bytrafik, Denmark, arriving in Tˇrshavn in late 2007 or early 2008.

NV 851, JL 757, MB 255, MB 047 and MB 429 were all noted on my previous visit in 2004, as also MB 181, parked as a spare in the operator's yard.

In 2007 the Tˇrshavn municipality had introduced a free fares policy on the city buses. Originally meant as a trial, it was a success and was continued.  But there is a somewhat odd effect from the free fares policy in that virtually no-one talks to the driver, there being no need of communication with no ticket needing to be bought! The occasional passenger may say hello - but that seemed to be the exception - and most of the time the drivers appeared to be talking to their friends on their mobile phones, through hands-free earpieces I hasten to add.  (As an aside, talking of mobile phones, I received a call from England whilst in the middle of the undersea Leirvik to Klaksvik tunnel.  Two way conversation was perfectly clear throughout the tunnel.  What a contrast to home where the mobile signal is totally lost in a rail tunnel of even a few hundred yards length)!  

From August 2009 the town services were reduced in operating hours by the withdrawal of Sunday services and also the cessation of operations at 1400 hours on Saturday (re-extended to 1600 hours from July 2011).  A retendering exercise for the Busslei­in routes started in April 2010; this resulted in a 7-year contract being awarded from 1st April 2011 to a three-way consortium including Jˇn Thomasen of Kvivik, HZ Bussar of Streymnes and Gundurs Bussar of Signabour. A new fleet of buses would arrive but initially the vehicles of previous incumbent operator Mouritsens Bussar were used temporarily. Eight of the fourteen new SOR buses foreseen in the winning contract bid arrived in Tˇrshavn from the Czech Republic on 23rd May, with the other six soon after. Following a presentation to the public on 3rd July, the new buses were introduced into regular service on 4th July 2011 together with an enhanced timetable which includes a new route 5 every two hours running across central Tˇrshavn from Kaldbak in the east to Velbasta­ur and Kirkjub°ur in the west. Journeys running westwards from Kaldbak are operated as route 5V ("vestur") and journeys running east from Kirkjub°ur are operated as route 5E ("eystur"). Further changes to this new timetable were soon introduced from 15th August 2011 with three journeys on 5V cut short to connect with route 2 at Hvitanes and similarly on route 5E with three journeys short running to connect with route 3 at Nor­asta Horn.

Steinatun in mid-town Torshavn

Town and country buses at Steinatun in central Tˇrshavn (2009). Bygdaleiđir route 101 coming from Gamlaraett with Jon Thomasen's Volvo DP 232.



Lastly, to conclude, some official figures on the number of vehicles in the Faroe Islands, as they were at 1st January 2012.  There were 221 buses and 98 taxis, of which 106 buses and 65 taxis were based on the main island of Steymoy.  In comparison there were 20050 cars, 9489 of which were on Streymoy. In comparison with the figures for 2008 there is a slight overall decline in the number of vehicles in the classes quoted.

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This is a link to the Tˇrshavn Kommuna website for the current Busslei­in timetables

This is a link to Busslei­in information for the period 1992 - 2003

This is a link to Bygdalei­ir information for the period 1992 - 2003

This is a link to the SSL website for the current Bygdalei­ir timetables

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