A new agreement on regional planning for Reykjavík and surrounding communities, which was signed by all seven municipalities in the capital region on Monday, includes establishing a light rail system in the region by 2040.
“We plan to build a fast or light rail system which operates within its own space independently from other traffic,” regional planning manager Hrafnkell Á. Proppé told Fréttablaðið. “The city line will be a powerful and environmentally-friendly transport system which will help passengers travel quickly and safely around the metropolitan area.”
The seven municipalities have made an agreement with the Icelandic Road Administration on developing and executing the project.
“If we continue to travel the way we do today where 76 percent of trips are made by car, we will be in trouble,” said Hrafnkell. It’s expected that in 2040, 70,000 more people will live in the capital region. “It’s necessary that we anticipate the predicted population increase while making sure that car traffic doesn’t increase at the same rate.”
He explained that the light rail system will also lessen the load on the center of the capital as the operations of services such as hotels can be moved to the suburbs.
The basic development work for the new transport projects is to be completed by 2016. While they will be costly, it is pointed out that society will save money in the long run; direct national economic benefit from changed transport habits is estimated at ISK 100 billion (USD 800 million, EUR 700 million).
The systems for road and bicycle paths will also be improved. “These systems must all be coordinated and incorporated into the municipalities’ planning.”
The regional planning agreement, entitled ‘Höfuðborgarsvæðið 2040,’ is the joint policy of the municipalities in Garðabær, Hafnarfjörður, Kjós, Kópavogur, Mosfellsbær, Reykjavík and Seltjarnarnes, and includes close cooperation on the area’s organization and growth in the next 25 years.