Comparing Flight Costs with Bus Fares Raises Questions Skip to content

Comparing Flight Costs with Bus Fares Raises Questions

By Andie Sophia Fontaine

Boats in harbour in Höfn í Hornafirði
Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

In light of fare increases made by the bus company Strætó, it has comes to light that a bus trip from Reykjavík to Höfn í Hornafirði, Southeast Iceland, is more expensive than the cheapest flights to many European cities, such as Paris, Frankfurt and Rome. There are, however, some important caveats to this.

Cheapest roundtrip flights cheaper

Buses outside of the greater Reykjavík area are operated by the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (IRCA). The timetable for taking a bus from the Mjódd bus terminal in Reykjavík to Höfn shows the journey would take approximately seven hours, which is roughly comparable to how long it would take to drive there.

The cost (.pdf) of this trip, for a single adult, is 16,530 ISK ($119/€111) one way. This is cheaper than taking a car, where the cost of petrol would be significantly higher.

At the same time, DV points out that some of the cheapest round-trip flights to cities in mainland Europe cost less than this.

Bus zones

There are some important caveats to bear in mind in this comparison. Hilmar Stefánsson, the managing director of IRCA’s public transit division, told Vísir that the bus fare from Reykjavík to Southeast Iceland is certainly not cheap, and can be attributed to how fares are calculated.

As can be seen in the bus fare table, buses travel through different zones, each with their own cost. The more zones a bus travels through, the higher the fare rises, regardless of the distance of the trip. As such, longer trips can work out to be cheaper than shorter ones if they go through fewer zones.

In addition, fares are considerably cheaper for children, the elderly, and the disabled. In fact, children aged 11 and younger ride for free.

Ultimately, traveling anywhere in Iceland is a matter of weighing costs and benefits. Renting a car is slightly faster and provides more freedom, but is more expensive than taking a bus, which follows a fixed route and timetable.

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