Transport in the Faroe Islands

History

The general history of the Faroese transportation-system can be summed up into four general periods:

19th century and earlier

In the first period stretching from the feudal era into the beginning of the 20th century transportation was made mainly by a combination of rowing boats, walking, carrying, and horse-transport in certain places for upper social classes.

The late 19th century onwards

In the second period, starting in the late 19th century the ferry-connections start to emerge. First through private initiatives and in the 20th century increasingly transforming into public transport further supplemented by the emerging automobilism, especially during and between the two world wars. After World War II a large part of the Faroe Islands was reachable through a combination of ferries and automobiles — frequently private buses and taxis.

The mid 20th century

The third period included a modernization of the ferries, introducing the car-ferries, making it possible to drive between the large centres of the country. Soon it would be possible to drive all the way from the capital of Tórshavn to Vágur and Tvøroyri in the south, to Fuglafjørður and Klaksvík in the north and to the airport at Sørvágur in the west.
Vágar Airport was built by the British during World War II; it was reopened as a civilian international airport in 1963.

During this second period the road network was further extended and supplemented by tunnels to distant valleys and firths such as Hvalba, Sandvík and Norðdepil in the 1960s. Thus the third period stretches from the World War II to around 1970.

The late 20th century onwards

*"See also: Tunnels of the Faroes"The fourth period starts a completely new development. In the 1973 the first solid connections between two islands was established between Norðskáli on Eysturoy and Nesvík on Streymoy. In 1976 the new tunnel between Norðskáli and the rest of Eysturoy was established, and together with the bridge this meant that the two largest islands were suddenly connected into what is now referred to as "Meginlandið" — (the Mainland). In 1975 the causeway between Viðoy and Borðoy was established, and in 1986 a similar one between Borðoy and Kunoy was established, and in 1992 the capital Tórshavn was granted a 1st class connection to the northern parts of the country, creating the infrastructural prepositions for a new mobile society on the Mainland.

The newest developments of the Faroese transportation network are the sub-sea tunnels. In 2002 the tunnel between Streymoy and Vágar — the latter is the airport island — was finished, and in 2006 the Norðoyatunnilin between Eysturoy and Borðoy was finished. A toll (payable at petrol stations) of 170 DKK is charged to drive through these two tunnels, the others are free. Now more than 85% of the Faroese population is mutually reachable by automobile.

The Faroe Islands now have a good internal transport system based on roads, ferries, and helicopters. International transport - entirely based on aircraft and ships — (both for passengers and freight) remains difficult due to high costs, low numbers, long distances, and weather-related difficulties - especially in wintertime. The exporting of domestically produced commodities is hence quite expensive. This limits the development of a commodity-based economy.

Railways

There are no railways on the Faroe Islands due to the difficult landscape, small population and the relatively short distances.

Bus services

Roads have become the main transport artery of Faroese society. There is an extensive bus network — with red painted Bussleiðin town buses serving Tórshavn and the blue Bygdaleiðir buses linking the rest of the islands. Most buses are modern and were built by the Volvo company.

The network of Bygdaleiðir blue rural buses (as well as the ferries) is operated by Strandfaraskip Landsins on behalf of the Faroese government (which provides subsidies). The principal route is Tórshavn-Klaksvík (via the new Norðoyatunnilin tunnel), but other bus routes also serve most villages. Bygdaleiðir means "village routes"; individual buses are largely owned by individuals or small companies - but the timetables, fares, and levels of service are set by Strandfaraskip Landsins and the government.

Bussleiðin is the name of the urban bus service (with five routes) operated by the Tórshavn municipality. Since 1 January 2007, buses within Torshavn have been completely free of charge to the public. This is intended as an environmentally-friendly programme making people use public transport instead of their cars. As with Bygdaleiðir, the actual buses are privately owned, but contracted to Bussleiðin.

Highways

"total:" 458 km (1995 est.):"paved:" 450 km:"unpaved:" 8 km

Ports and harbours

* Torshavn
* Klaksvík
* Tvøroyri
* Runavík
* Fuglafjørður

Merchant marine

"total:" 6 ships (GRT|1,000|metric|first=yes or over) totaling GRT|22,853|metric/DWT|13,481|metric|first=yes (1999 est.):"ships by type:" cargo ship 2, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo ship 1, roll-on/roll-off 1, short-sea passenger 1.

The Faroese ferry company Strandfaraskip Landsins operates a network of ferries (as well as the rural buses). Their largest vessel is the new Smyril, a roll-on/roll-off ferry which maintains the link between Tórshavn and the southern islands. This vessel entered service in 2005.

Since the early 1980s Smyril Line [http://www.smyril-line.com] has operated a regular international passenger, car and freight service using a large, modern, multi-purpose ferry - the Norröna. The weekly service links the Faroe Islands with Seyðisfjörður in Iceland, Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, Bergen in Norway and Hanstholm in Denmark. From June 2007 the ferry will also call at Scrabster, on the mainland of Scotland.

Airports

1 (Vágar Airport) (2005):Airports - with paved runways:"total:" 1::"914 to 1,523 m:" 1

See also

* [http://landsverk.fo/Default.asp?sida=709 Map of Transportation net]
* Transport in Denmark
* Tunnels of the Faroes
* Smyril Line


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