New information on Borgarlína reveals that the project, which is due to begin “visible construction” this year, is over budget by a significant amount. The exact total, however, remains disputed.
Borgarlína is a bus-rapid-transit system intended to alleviate Reykjavík’s traffic problems. The lack of long-term urban planning in Reykjavík city has long been heavily criticized. Because the development of Reykjavík has centred around the construction of suburbs, commute times have increased and air quality has decreased as more and more Icelanders are forced to rely on their cars. The Borgarlína project, in development since 2015, aims to alleviate these problems by introducing a rapid transit system to the capital area, complete with bus-only lanes.
However, recent information on the cost of the project has raised eyebrows among some officials.
In an editorial in Morgunblaðið today, Mayor of Kópavogur Ásdís Kristjánsdóttir, wrote: “This joint project between the state and municipalities in the capital area is urgent. However, it is part of the responsibility of those who support the agreement and provide it with funds from the taxpayers’ pockets to stop now and reevaluate the plans.”
The exact figure of the budget increase has been disputed, and not all agree.
According to some sources, the project may be overshooting its budget by as much as ISK 50 billion [$375,000,000; €330,000,000].
Other estimates give the number as ISK 17 billion [$121,000,000; €113,000,000].
A major reason for the budgetary overshoot is the construction on Sæbraut, where it was decided to build a traffic channel instead of an intersection.
Davið Þorláksson, a project manager for Transport for the Capital Area (TfCA), has clarified that the misunderstanding arises from price comparisons with older figures. Given the duration of the project, inflation, and other growing costs, he claims it’s a matter of apples and oranges.
“It’s just not possible to compare figures from 2019, when the transport agreement was signed, with today’s figures in 2023. They just aren’t comparable. At today’s prices, the estimated cost that was originally expected would be ISK 148 billion, but now stands at around ISK 164 billion. The difference between these is about 17 billion.”
Construction on Borgaræína is expected to begin this year.