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The traffic in the largest Norwegian cities

Congestion and delays are major concerns for businesses and those who are dependent on transport of goods and services in urban areas. There are several challenges. The major ones are the increased cost of transportation and that it is difficult to schedule deliveries. Lack of reserved parking for deliveries and badly designed facilities at properties in central areas of the cities implies also challenges for the drivers.

The report describes the changes in average driving speed on major roads in the three largest cities in Norway (Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim) the last few years, the current situation and expected development the next five to ten years.

The report concludes that in spite of plans for heavy investments in the road systems in all three cities the coming years, it will not be provided enough increased capacity to serve expected demand. Without special measures the congestion may be worse in the future. Therefore it must also be invested in improved capacity and attractiveness for other modes (public transport, bicycles, pedestrians) and alternative regulations and restrictions on the use of private cars.

In all three cities there are significant delays during peak hours. Traffic has increased at a relatively stable rate and is expected to do so also in the coming years. The periods with delays are getting longer. This development is explained by increased population and employment. The construction of new road capacity may both have allowed room for more traffic, but it has until now also prevented increased delays and severe congestion, roughly seen.

The current global economic crisis has also made its impact on the traffic in the three cities. The recession is seen as a major reason for a reduction of 5 to 8 per cent in Oslo. However, increased costs for passing the toll ring around the city and lowered fares on the public transport system may also have had effect. This can be considered as a three to five year “delay” of the expected traffic growth.

In the Oslo region it is expected a population growth of 230.000 persons the next 20 years. This means a growth of more than 20%. The region has an approved plan (the Oslo package 3) for heavy investments in road infrastructure and public transport. As most of the projects have an environmental focus they will not provide much increased road capacity because it implies expensive tunnels and measures such as priority lanes for public transport.

The traffic in the largest Norwegian cities today and in the next five to ten years. TØI report 1026/2009.
Author(s): Viggo Jean-Hansen, Jan Usterud Hanssen and Harald Aas


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