Bus Ticket Prices Rise in July

Strætó bus Reykjavík miðborgin umferð fólk

Strætó public bus service is raising single fares by 3.6% and the price of passes by 3.3% as of July 1. The change means a single fare will go from ISK 550 [$4.06, €3.70] to ISK 570 [$4.21, $3.84] and a 30-day student/senior pass will go from ISK 4,500 [$33.24, $30.30] to ISK 4,650 [$34.35, €31.31].

The board of Strætó approved the fare hike at a meeting on May 19. Strætó reviews fares twice a year, and also increased fares following its last review in October 2022. A notice from the organisation points out that the consumer price index has increased by 5.2% since that time.

“The aim of the tariff policy was and is to ensure that the tariffs go hand in hand with Strætó’s operating costs,” the notice states. These costs include salaries, oil, maintenance, repairs, and spare parts. There will be no change to fares for disabled patrons.

At the same time, the Road and Coastal Administration is raising public bus fares in the countryside, meaning that a trip from Reykjavík to Akureyri will go up from ISK 10,780 [$79.63, €72.58] to ISK 12,540 [$92.64, €84.43], and a trip from Reykjavík to Keflavík will go up from ISK 1,960 [$14.48, €13.20] to ISK 2,280 [$16.85, €15.35].

Strætó is also transitioning its payment systems by phasing out the Strætó app and fully transitioning to the Klapp app on July 1.

Sea Ice Unusually Close to North Iceland Coast

The Coast Guard flight yesterday discovered plenty of sea ice unusually close to Iceland’s northern coastline, which could pose a risk to seafarers. At the same time, parts of the North Atlantic Ocean are warmer than ever before. RÚV reported first.

“We have some very scattered ice coming up to the shore some eight to nine nautical miles from Hornstrandir [nature reserve in the Westfjords], which is closer than we’ve been seeing lately,” sea ice expert Ingibjörg Jónsdóttir, who was on the flight yesterday, stated. Thicker sea ice was also present further out to sea. Although the ice is thin in many places, it could be dangerous for smaller ships, according to Ingibjörg.

While the sea of Iceland’s north coast is currently cold, south of the island it has reached higher temperatures than ever before. The average temperature in the North Atlantic Ocean has never measured higher since record-taking began, breaking records for the past three months in a row. The ocean’s average temperature is just over one degree hotter than the average over the past two decades. In some areas, it is up to 4 degrees Celsius hotter than is considered normal.

Halldór Björnsson, Coordinator of Atmospheric Research at the Icelandic Met Office, says there is no doubt about the reason for this warming. “The basic reason is that all the world’s oceans are much warmer than they were, and that is simply the result of global warming,” he stated.

Protest Job Loss Due to Whaling Ban

Páll Stefánsson. Whaling in Iceland, 2010

Local councils in West Iceland are urging the Minister of Fisheries to lift the ban on whaling implemented just one day before the season was set to begin. The last-minute decision has left some 200 employees of whaling company Hvalur hf. unexpectedly unemployed and will have a significant financial impact on the western region.

On June 20, Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir temporarily halted the hunting of fin whales until August 31. The decision followed on the heels of a report that found whaling breached Iceland’s animal welfare legislation. The ban was implemented to enable an investigation on whether it is possible to ensure that hunting conforms to the legislation.

Only one company, Hvalur hf., was set to hunt whales this season. The company is based in Hvalfjörður, West Iceland, and typically employs around 200 people, most from the region, at the height of the hunting season. Both the municipal council of Akranes and the local council of Hvalfjörður have encouraged the Fisheries Minister to lift the whaling ban.

Tax and income losses

The Municipal Council of Akranes (pop. 7,986) published a resolution criticising the timing of the decision. “The ban was unexpected and a curveball to many Akranes residents who were counting on employment and income during the summer whaling season,” the resolution reads. The council estimates that it will lose tens of millions of ISK (hundreds of thousands of dollars) in local tax income due to the decision, affecting its ability to finance services to residents. The council stated that the ministry should carry out investigations before making such an impactful decision, not the other way around.

The local council of Hvalfjörður has also published a short statement on the temporary whaling ban, stating that its financial impact is significant, both directly and indirectly. “Hvalfjörður’s local council is not taking a stance on whaling with this statement but urges the Minister of Food to reconsider her decision,” the statement concludes.