BYGDALEIđIR

The Faroese country bus network  (the blue buses)

 Blßuir bussar

  faroes flag






This is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information, which can be found at  www.ssl.fo


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




Working in close co-ordination with the inter-island ferries to provide an integrated public transport network, the blue buses of Bygdalei­ir connect the towns and villages of this island nation.  Most of the transport provision in earlier years had been provided by (usually small) commercial operators, but from May 1980 onwards the government sponsored network of Bygdalei­ir country buses started to develop and progessively assume the responsibility for running the various routes, although the actual operation was most often sub-contracted to private operators.  The 1981 timetable shows the Bygdalei­ir routes on Streymoy as Tˇrshavn - Kvivik - Vestmanna, Tˇrshavn - Kirkjub°ur and Kvivik - SkŠling. On the island of Sandoy the Bygdalei­ir routes were from Skopun to Sand and Skßlavik; Skopun to Dalur and H˙savik; and to Skarvanes. The buses from Tˇrshavn to K°llafjor­ur, HvalvÝk, Saksun, HaldarsvÝk, Tj°rnuvÝk, Ei­i and Gjˇgv remained privately operated for a few years more, as did those on Eysturoy and the southern island of Su­uroy.

Bygdalei­ir is the generic fleet name for the interurban bus operations and simply means "Village Routes".  This network of buses and ferries is operated on behalf of the Faroese government by Strandfaraskip Landsins (SL) following the merger of the management of the two modes of operation in the 1990s.  The principal routes include the 100 and 300 linking the capital Tˇrshavn with Vestmanna, and prior to 2002 and the opening of a tunnell, with the ferry to Vagar and the Airport  The 400 is the other principal route running northwards from Tˇrshavn to Leirvik, and prior to 2006 connecting with the ferry there to the second largest town in the Faroe Islands, Klaksvik.  Other routes operate on the islands of Su­uroy, Sandoy and Bor­oy. On its journey the long route 400 interconnects with other routes to various parts of Eysturoy island. The buses have been provided at different periods both by private contractors (often small operators with only one or two buses) and directly by the SL Bussar part of the Bygdalei­ir fleet owned by SL itself.  The direct operation was primarily a development of the early 1990s following the withdrawal from bus operation of one of the largest fleet operators (p/f Bil) based in the capital Tˇrshavn.   The red town buses in Tˇrshavn are operated by the municipality using the fleet name Busslei­in with vehicles provided by sub-contractors.



This picture was taken in Tˇrshavn in 1992 and shows two typical
Bygdalei­ir Volvo buses (and me!). They were operated by the former
principal contractor p/f Bil who now once again only operate taxis.
 
Adult single ticket 50 krone (1998)
     
me_and102   ticket



Two door Volvo of p/f Bil on the Bygdalei­ir service to Vestmanna, believed to be in the early 1980s
photo from the Bil of Tˇrshavn collection
early days on bygdaleidir



An underwater tunnel opened on 10th Decemner 2002 which linked the islands of Streymoy and Vagara nd thus there was a change to the route network for services 100 and 300 with the buses running through between the airport and the capital Tˇrshavn. Consequently the ferry service between Vestmanna and Oyrargjˇjv (route 30 on the map below) was withdrawn on the same date.  Whilst you saved the ferry fare on the journey you now had to pay a passenger toll to pass through the tunnel - this was the first toll tunnel in the Faroes.

The first fares increase on the SL network for ten years was announced at the end of January 2003.  The network was then subsidised by the government by 60 million kronur a year as the income from selling tickets does not cover the cost of running the service.  Fares rose by about ten per cent, and the average price of most bus and ferry tickets became around 40 kronur each.  Figures showing the number of passengers carried on the buses in 2003 were noted.  Overall there had been some 573,000 passengers (compared to 641,000 in 2001).  The individual route with the greatest number of journeys was the long route 400 from Tˇrshavn through K°llafjor­ur to Leirvik (for ferry Dugvan to Klaksvik) and Fuglafjor­ur.  Interconnecting with a succession of other feeder services along the route, the 400 had carried 152,000 passengers in 2003 (up from 2001's 142,000).   More typically the 200 feeder to Ei­i carried 20,000 in 2003 (2001 = 15,000) and the 101 to Kirkjubour and Gamlaraett (ferry to Sandoy) carried 24,000 (2001 = 26,000).  The route with the lowest number of journeys for both years was the 205 feeder to Saksun with 80 passengers in 2003 and 109 in 2001.  Given the difficult and sparsely populated operating territory it is not surprising that the bus and ferry network is heavily subsidised by the Faroese government.

The rural bus (Bygdalei­ir) and inter-island ferry services (Oyggjalei­ir) are secured by SSL (Strandfaraskip Landsins) with timetables integrated to provide an efficient transport network with through fares.  By 2004 the buses had gained a darker blue livery and were mainly new high floor Volvo coaches with dual doors, luggage carried underneath.  Some of the lesser routes are operated by minibus, eg the 500 from Klaksvik to Vi­arei­i is serviced by a 19-seater Mercedes (personalised registration AK505) belonging to Askham Bussar.  Two significant changes at this time (a)  personalised registration plates had become available and many operators had taken advantage of this; and (b) the Bygdalei­ir bus network had reverted once again to being completely provided by private operators contracted to SSL. This had been the case until around 1998 when on;y some of the Tˇrshavn based routes were provided by buses owned directly by SSL. The individual operators were listed by route in the timetable book. Jon Thomasen, based in Kvivik, is a typical  Bygdalei­ir contractor and operates on the 101 Kirkjubour and 300 Airport routes.  Some parts of the bus network are only operated on an as required basis.

One change at this time was the  provision of some journeys on routes 440 and 480 by new operator Skßlalei­in rather than Bygdalei­ir.  This may have been connected to the withdrawal of the Toftir / Strendur - Tˇrshavn ferry (route 40 and latterly peak hours only)  which stopped running. Skßlalei­in trips on these routes mainly operate through from Toftir and Runavik to Skßli and Strendur, running thus on both sides of the long sea inlet Skßlafjor­ur, whilst Bygdalei­ir journeys run on one side of the fjord or the other to make connections to trunk route 400 to Tˇrshavn at either Skßlabotnur or S°ldarfjor­ur.  The Skßlalei­in trips appear to be operated by the same providers as the Bygdalei­ir trips and may have started in June 2003,  operateing on behalf of Runavik municipality.  (Operation has since reverted to Bygdalei­ir).

This map shows the SL network of Bygdalei­ir bus and ferry routes as they were in 2000.

map_2000


On 30th April 2006 a new undersea road tunnel from Leirvik to Klaksvik was opened and bus route 400 extended to operate through journeys from Tˇrshavn to Klaksvik, with Fuglafj°r­ur now served by new route 410 from there to Klaksvik.  The ferry from Leirvik to Klaksvik (route 50 on the map above) ceased operation on 7th May.

Coming forward to 2009 some routes had changed hands between operators and there were many new Volvos to be seen, many with personal registrations.  The Saksun route was no more and bus services on the southernmost island of Suđuroy had been simplified.  The ferry to Suđuroy was now worked by an even larger newer Smyril, the fifth ship to bear the name, and introduced in October 2004 on the important two hour crossing.

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 said that 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 was being 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 still operated 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.


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

line up at terminal in Torshavn


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.

2017 was centennial anniversary year with the 100 year anniversary of SSLcelebrated at Tv°royri on the island of Suđuroy. The director was asked about the 11 kilometre road tunnel under construction from Tˇrshavn to Eysturoy and how it will change the system in the future but the response was that there was still plenty of time left to figure that out before the target completion date of 2020.  The Faroese minister of transport (a Su­uroy man) had just announced an official exploration study for a tunnel from Sandoy to Su­uroy, via Sk˙voy, following on from the planned tunnel from Streymoy to Sandoy). This tunnel is probably only a matter of time rather than money. The minister was asked if the Su­uroy ferry would reroute to Sandoy, at least temporarily, after the 10 kilometre Sandoyartunnilin opens from Streymoy in 2023. Sandur to Hvalba would be a much shorter trip which could allow higher frequencies. He immediately said no, not worth the investment (two new terminals), a difficult route (currents), and more trips aren't necessary since only the morning trip to Tˇrshavn and evening trip to Su­uroy are well used. But mostly he liked how the beauty of a ship like Smyril manoeuvring past the prime minister's office thrice-daily to remind Tˇrshavn of Su­uroy's existence  ...

 In May 2020 Strandfaraskip Landsins (SSL) retendered the Bygdalei­ir bus network in five contract packages, with many new vehicles taking up service. Overall about forty buses are needed, eight for Streymoy, eleven for Eysturoy, nine for the southern islands and eleven for the northern islands. One contract was gained by IR Lastbilar (proprietor Rasmus Rasmussen of Kollafjor­ur) for routes 100 Vestmanna, 101 GamlarŠtt for the Sandoy ferry and 300 Vßgur and airport. They use Neoplan Tourliners for much of this work, most of which carry RB registrations. Landlei­in of Klaksvik hold the second contract and operate trunk route 400 Tˇrshavn - Klaksvik, also 410 Fuglafjor­ur and 500 Vi­are­i. For their main routes Iveco Magesys are employed. Askham Bussar of Hvannasund lost this work in the northern islands that they had previously operated. A third contract was awarded to Poulsen Bussar of Toftir for the local lines on Eysturoy (including 440 Skßlafjar­arlei­in) and the local routes based on Oyrarbakki such as 200 Ei­i and 202 Tjornuvik. MAN Lion buses are used by Poulsen, some with a very appropriate series of registrations BUSS. In practice these Oyrarbakki routes appear to be operated on sub-contract by HK Bussar of nearby Streymnes, a firm which can trace its history back to 1958 when Berint Justinussen started in the transport business. Also from the village of Streymnes the firm HZ Bussar can also trace its roots back to a similar time when Hakun Zachariassen started in transport.

The other two contracts cover bus operation on the southern islands of Sandoy and Su­uroy. On Sandoy routes 600 and 601, operated by Handilsh˙si­, link the ferry port of Skopun to Sandur, Skßlavik and Dalur. This needs two buses. On the southernmost island of Su­uroy route 700 links the southern villages of the island to Vßgur and Tv°royri whilst route 701 provides similar links for the northern villages. Both routes serve the ferry port at Drelnes to coincide with the several daily sailings of Smyril to and from the capital Tˇrshavn (a voyage of two hours). This means early starts and late finishes most days of the week for the seven buses of operator Su­uroyar Bygdalei­ir of Sumba. The headquarters of the national transport authority Strandfaraskip Landsins (SSL) was relocated from Tˇrshavn to Tv°royri on Su­uroy some fourteen years ago in 2007.

On 19th December 2020 the new undersea toll tunnel northwards from Tˇrshavn was opened to traffic. Eleven kilometres in length, the Eysturoy Tunnel links Hvitanes (just north of the capital) to Strendur and Runavik. It incorporates the first roundabout in an undersea road tunnel too. Bus 400 from Tˇrshavn to Klaksvik now uses the new tunnel rather than the previous lengthy route around Sundalagi­ through Kollafj°r­ur and Oyrarbakki. With the Leirvik to Klaksvik road tunnel that was opened in 2006 the bus running time between the two termini of Tˇrshavn and Klaksvik is now only 65 miutes instead of 90. The new routing also provides much improved journeys between Skßlafj°r­ur communities like Runavik and the capital. New circular route 450 now provides the bus link from Tˇrshavn to Oyrabakki for connections from there to Ei­i, Gjˇgv and Tj°rnuvÝk. Operation of the 450 is shared between IR Lastbilar and Landlei­in, with some runs on via the new Eysturoy tunnel, others via the 'old' route through Kollafj°r­ur.

However operating experience has shown that the route revisions introduced when the Eysturoy tunnel opened in December 2020 have not proved optimal. From 30th April 2021 trunk route 400 from Tˇrshavn to Klaksvik reverts to its original longer route around Sundalagi­, with two peak hour express journeys (numbered 401) from Klaksvik to the capital still running through the new tunnel. Other journeys through the tunnel will be numbered 450 Tunnilslei­in and will operate a triangular route between Tˇrshavn and the Skßlafj°r­ur communities of Strendur, Runavik and Toftir.

With the opening of the southwards 10.8 kilometres long tunnel to Sandoy in December 2023 buses on new route 650 will  run through from the island to the capital Tˇrshavn and the ferry route 60 from Gamlaraett to Skopun was withdrawn.  Routes 600 and 601 will continue to run locally on Sandoy to provide connections with the new 650.




returnpic Click here to return to the
main index page
 
Click here to return to the
Faroes index page