Strætó Discontinues Night-Time Service During Weekends

Public bus in Reykjavík

Strætó has announced that it will discontinue its night-time bus service in Reykjavík during the weekends, citing low passenger demand during a special trial period. Strætó is facing financial troubles following the pandemic, and recently, the capital area municipalities had to divert extra fund to keep the regional partnership company from insolvency.

The night bus returns

In early July, Strætó (the public bus service in Iceland) announced that the Reykjavík night bus, Næturstrætó, would return to service on July 9 following a two-year hiatus in response to low demand during the pandemic. During this hiatus, many capital-area residents had called for its return, arguing that it provided an affordable and safe alternative to taxis.

During a trial run between July and October of this year, however – when the night bus departed downtown Reykjavík every hour and stopped at the capital area’s seven suburban neighbourhoods – demand once again proved wanting. As noted in a press release from Strætó, an average of 15 passengers travelled aboard the night bus during each trip, which amounts to approximately 300 passengers over a weekend.

“In light of this, and given the finances, Strætó’s board has agreed that continuing night-time service during the weekends, now that the trial period has concluded, cannot be justified. The service will, therefore, be discontinued.”

As noted by Vísir, transportation options from downtown Reykjavík after the night clubs have closed during the weekend are limited; operating electric scooters while intoxicated is illegal and securing transportation via taxis often proves difficult.

 

Would-Be Terrorists Discussed Killing Minister Guðlaugur Þór

Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson.

The two men being held in police custody accused of planning a domestic terrorism attack in Iceland had reportedly discussed killing Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson – Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Climate.

The “first investigation of its kind” in Iceland

Four Icelandic men were arrested on September 21 suspected of “terrorist plots” against state institutions and civilians. Two of the suspects were immediately released; the other two have remained in custody. Last Friday, the District Court of Reykjavík approved the District Attorney’s request to extend their custody by four weeks.

According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. The men, both of whom are in their twenties, had reportedly discussed carrying out an attack during the police’s annual celebration (which was held on October 1).

Politicians among would-be targets

Yesterday, RÚV reported that the suspects had also discussed killing Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Climate. The Chief of Police reportedly notified the Minister of the suspects’ intentions prior to calling the Minister in for questioning.

As reported on October 10, the suspects had also discussed targeting Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir and Gunnar Smári Egilsson, chairperson of the Socialist Party. The names of current and former Pirate Party politicians were also mentioned as possible targets.

The police have asked a psychiatrist to assess the earnestness of the remarks made by the men during private messages, with the suspects’ lawyers contending that the threats were empty. Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson has stated that this is the “first investigation of its kind” to be launched in Iceland.

Ptarmigan Quota Increased for Upcoming Hunting Season

The Ministry of the Environment, Energy, and Climate has announced that the annual ptarmigan hunting season will begin on November 1 and conclude on December 4. This year’s hunting quota has been set at 26,000 birds, an increase of 6,000 from last year.

Poor recruitment in Northeast and West Iceland

Rock ptarmigan are still hunted in Iceland as they are considered a delicacy, often consumed on Christmas Eve. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History claims the preservation status the ptarmigan gained in 2003 has helped to significantly restore numbers. In May, the institute reported that the ptarmigan population was nearing its zenith in West and Northwest Iceland in the Westfjords while the population was likely declining in Northeast and East Iceland. In August, the institute reported poor recruitment in Northeast and West Iceland. The total ptarmigan population was estimated at just under 300,000 birds.

Yesterday, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for the Environment, Energy, and Climate, announced the arrangement of this year’s ptarmigan hunting season. An announcement on the government’s website stated that hunting season shall last from November 1 to December 4, between 12 noon and sunset, from Tuesdays to Fridays. This year’s arrangement is similar to last year’s, with the exception that the quota has been increased to 26,000 birds, an increase of 6,000.

Hunters asked to show moderation

Guðlaugur Þór also asked hunters to show moderation in light of the recruitment failure in Northeast and West Iceland: poor weather conditions this spring and summer are the likely explanation. The minister further encouraged hunters to refrain from hunting in large numbers in Northeast Iceland. Lastly, the announcement iterates the ban on ptarmigan sales, which applies equally to the sale of ptarmigan to resellers and others.

“I’ve emphasised that the Environment Agency of Iceland should expedite the creation of a management and protection plan for the ptarmigan and that the arrangement of hunting season should based on that plan in the future,” the press release reads.

The statement adds that a timeline for the management and protection plan, which involves a high level of cooperation with interested parties, has been established and that the plan would likely be introduced in May of 2023.