Why not take the bus?

Bus is a natural choice around the world…. but.

The Barents on Time project was planned during a period when the borders between Russia, Finland, and Norway witnessed daily crossings by hundreds of travelers. With an anticipated increase in tourist travel, buses emerged as a natural choice for cross-border transportation.

Barents on Time aimed to address the bottlenecks in cross-border bus transport by establishing a solid, safe, accessible, and user-friendly bus network across the region. The project’s specific objective was to provide cross-border travelers with up-to-date tools and services for utilizing public transport.

Important theme, unlucky time

Unfortunately, BoT was unlucky as the COVID-19 broke out shortly after the project start. As a result of travel restrictions, the number of travelers on east-west routes sharply declined in 2020. This hindered the project’s ability to gather extensive feedback from travelers and bus operators regarding their experiences and preferences for bus connections.

Nevertheless, the project conducted research among passengers and bus operators to identify areas for improvement, as well as the need for new routes and services. The results of the customer survey was shared with transport authorities and bus operators. The project developed a website providing information on cross-border public transport. Additionally, an Emergency Plan was created in the form of a brochure for bus companies. This resource outlines bus drivers’ actions in case of road accidents, fires, or other emergencies, and also includes contact details for safety authorities and other useful information.

The project installed two information screens equipped with electronic timetables at bus stops in Kirkenes, Norway, and an additional two information screens were placed in the ticket office in Murmansk, Russia.

Overcoming bottlenecks is possible

Coordinating bus connections in the North Calotte area is challenging, due to legal and business reasons, as well as differences between the countries. However, there is an example of how these obstacles can be overcome: a daily bus connection between Finnish Lapland and Northern Norway has started as a result of the project.

To further enhance bus connections, ongoing dialogue among stakeholders in the respective countries is essential. Many of us hope that Sweden will also actively participate. The project has successfully laid the groundwork for cooperation between partners in Finland and Norway, which will play a crucial role in the development of efficient border-crossing transport.

Project: Barents on Time

Lead partner: Finnmark County Authority, Norway

Other partners: 

  • OOO Murmansky Avtovokzal
  • Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Lapland (Lapland ELY-centre)

Information about the project in KEEP database