How To Survive on the Norwegian Public Bus System
Carson shares some insight on how to navigate the bus system during her study abroad program in Norway, along with a few of her humorous adventures from her experiences so far.
- Fee: If you are not sure exactly how much the bus costs just give the bus driver twice as much as you think it costs. He can figure it out. My first full day in Norway, the bus was my way to get to school. One bus there and two buses back, and I thought it might be difficult but I could (probably) handle it. Nervous and not understanding much Norwegian I gave the bus driver my 50 kr bill and got change. On the way home I gave another 50 to the first bus driver and got change. I thought I’d be fancy and figure out how much it costs by subtracting the change I had from 100, so I could give the bus driver exact change on the second bus. Long story short, it did’t not work. For some reason the change I gave him was too not enough. Flustered and not understanding rapid fire Norwegian I placed as many coins as I could get my hands on in front of him and hoped it was enough. It was a success! He counted out he coins he didn’t need and gave them back to me, no problem. The sad part of this story is that I didn’t need to pay a second time. Unbeknownst to me the receipt you get when you pay in cash can act as a ticket for a standard amount of time. Learning from experience. That’s the ticket.
- Capacity: The bus’s are usually almost completely empty, or filled to the very very very maximum. On my morning ride to school the bus never fills up, there might be one or two kids in each row (4 seats across) but there is plenty of room to put your backpack besides you. The way home however, is a different matter, if I get out the same time as the middle school, the bus is packed. I’m talking 40 sitting, at least 30 standing in the aisle. It gives a new meaning to “The Conservation of Space.” The capacity of the roads is another weighty matter. The bus, in my opinion, is fairly normal sized. The roads in Norway? Not so much. I feel like I am going to die daily. Usually it’s OK, but sometimes when the bus goes around a round-about or makes a sharp turn, or drives over the curb. I get squeamish. There is a bridge across the river, and thank God my bus doesn’t cross it. This is a two lane bridge, mind you, a narrow two lane bridge but two cars can squeeze across. The bus, a whole bus goes across it too, the bus takes up the entire span of the bridge and no car can go the opposite direction until it is off it. This seems dangerous to me. Also, just today, we were a mere 50 meters from the bus stop, the bus made a sharp left turn, too sharp, and scrapped a tiny car in the opposite lane. It was terrifying. It also frequently looks like two buses will hit each other when they are going it opposite directions, it hasn’t happened yet but…
- Sightseeing: Don’t stare too hard out the window. Or just keep a very good eye on your personal belongings. I had been in Norway a week when I got my wallet stolen. It was on the way home and I, sitting by the window, left my backpack on the sit next to me and preceded to become fully engrossed in the passing scenery of beautiful forests, and small mountain ranges. Little farms and apple orchards passed in the huge window of the bus, captivating my attention. Unbeknownst to be, someone must have taken my wallet because the next thing you know I am off the bus, waiting for another and looking for my wallet with my bus card and it wasn’t there. Unfortunately for me I didn’t have enough loose change to buy a ticket so I was stuck for a short while until my lovely host mother came and picked me up.
- Labeling & Routes: It is a fairly good idea to know where you want to go when picking bus. One day while waiting at the bus stop, a bus came with the name of my stop in it’s subtitle, it had the name of another town, Hønefoss, in bigger letters. I had no earthly idea where this town, Hønefoss, was but I figured I’d get to my stop eventually so I got on. Wrong choice. After 30 minutes in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go there was a road sign, Hønefoss: 54 km. I got off at the first stop, Åmot, hoping to catch a bus in the opposite direction. In comes the bit of advice about sightseeing, so distracted by the beautiful Norwegian outdoors, someone had stolen my wallet. With the bus card. Feeling stranded is never fun, but spending a few hours in the Åmot bus station was interesting, to say the least. The ironic part of this story is that if I had just stayed on the bus it would have eventually turned around and taken me back. Anyway, moral of the story, always know where you’re going!
- Patience: Finally, last but not least, be patient, the Norwegian bus system may have some quirks, but it will faithfully get you where you need to go (if you know how to use it!). I also find the bright green buses vaguely cheery and peasant to look at.
photo via prahatravel