We cut our prices by -38%

I have been a regular user of the airport coach between Gjøvik and the international airport Oslo-Gardermoen (OSL) in the past 10 years. It is the most convenient mode of travel to cover the 90 kilometers in about 100 minutes.

Starting the first week of February, the operator of the route changed the ticket system. The announcement reads „We cut the prices“. Indeed, the single adult fare is now 269 NOK instead of 280 NOK, a reduction of almost 4%. This brings the price down to the level one year ago (when it was increased from 270 NOK to 280 NOK).

„Cutting the discounts will make it easier for you and more fair for everybody.“ -TIMEkspressen justifying a 38% increase in fares

At the same time most of the discounts were removed: „This will make it wasier for you and more fair for everybody.“ I can no longer use the company rate, so instead of paying 195 NOK (30% company discount as a college employee), I have to pay 269 NOK, an increase of 38%. The prepaid card I had been using since 2003 does no longer give a discount. What used to give a discount of 50% in 2003, 33% in 2010, and 25% in the last two years now has become just an interest-free loan to the coach operator. Instead of paying 210 NOK (25% prepaid card discount), my wife now has to pay 269 NOK, an increase of 28%. In 2003 I paid 110 NOK for a trip to the airport (220 NOK regular fare with a 50% prepaid card discount), ten years later the effective fare is up 145%. As a family, we will have to pay 808 NOK this year for a single trip instead of 675 NOK last year – a 20% increase.

What are the alternative options?

  • TIMEkspressen introduced a new ticket: „Traveldays“. Here you have to buy 5 or 10 trips or even a whole month to get a discount. It is only an alternative for traveling to and from the airport on the same day as a „Travelday“ costs you 404 NOK (when buying 10 days, 440 NOK per day for five days) – less than a roundtrip, but considerably more than a regular single trip.
  • Driving to the airport takes the same time plus spending time and money on parking at the airport. It blocks the car for my family and is not convenient in winter. Given that our car is old, the costs for petrol and distance-based insurance amount to ca. 200 NOK. Parking starts at 180 NOK for a day. There is no Wifi on the car.
  • Taking a train via Oslo S takes two hours from Gjøvik to Oslo S, transfer to an airport-bound train, and another thirty minutes (twenty when taking the dedicated airport train that requires another ticket at a higher price). In total, it takes me one hour longer and costs 366 NOK for a single adult. My family travels for 732 NOK, thanks to the family discount of NSB (one child travels free with a parent). There is Wifi on the train as it is on the bus, albeit not with good signal strength in all cars of the train.
  • Taking a train via Moelv requires getting on the bus to Moelv first (twenty minutes), transfer to the southbound train, and then enjoy a 90-minute ride to the airport. Bus and train take 50 minutes longer than the direct airport coach and cost 259 NOK for a single trip (576 NOK for my family). Wifi on both bus and train.

On top of the price increase, TIMEekspressen cut the last bus from the airport. While the last bus from the airport at 23:05 does not seem to have issues with a low number of passengers according to my own anecdotal evidence, the 18:30 bus from Gjøvik to the airport was apparently not economically viable. Since it is physically the same bus as the last one from the airport, the operator decided to make the easiest cut in the timetable (for the operator). As far as I know TIMEkspressen operates the airport coach on a government concession giving them a temporary monopoly on the direct route to the airport. Obviously, either the contract allows them to make these cuts or our government did not negotiate a better contract or did not exercise good oversight.

Adding insult to injury, neither the bus driver nor the ticket machine was aware of that prepaid cards still gave a discount in February after new prices were introduced. That was clearly stated in the brochure TIMEkspressen had printed to inform on the new prices.

„Will make it easier for you and more fair for everyone:“ do not treat your customers as dumb. They aren’t.

About Author: Hanno Langweg

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