Exploring the world's built environments and seeking sustainable solutions.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Storstockholms Lokaltrafik

History of Stockholm Transit:

While we could not read the signs and labels at the transit museum (as they were all in Swedish), our trip to the Sparvagsmuseet (transit museum) made it evident that Stockholm has a rich public transit tradition. The first public transportation to take form was the Rowing Madams. It makes sense that Stockholm’s first public transportation centered around boats and using waterways that connected the numerous islands of the city.
Stockholm, like many other cities in the 18th and 19th centuries went through the transition of horse trams, to steam powered trams and finally to electric rail. In 1933, Stockholm built their first underground tram, which became the foundation of the extensive Tunnelbana (T-bana) system which dominates Stockholm’s transit landscape today.
Public transportation in Stockholm has transitioned through numerous companies and organizational structures. At one point in time public transportation was owned an operated by private companies. There was one company that operated the transit in the Northern part of the city and one company that operated the transit in the Southern part of the city. In the 1920’s the companies were converted to a public agency, known as Stockholms Sparvgar (SS). In the 1967 SS became Storstockholms Lokaltrafik, and became Sweden’s first county-wide public transportation company. The T-bana now consists of approximately 67 miles of track and 100 stations and has an average ridership of 700,000 passengers per day. The T-bana is also interconnected with numerous commuter rail, regional trams, buses and the airport train, creating an expansive public transportation network.

Design and Aesthetics:

Within the last ten years, SL has switched to C20 technology making their metro trains 94% recyclable and extremely quiet, consuming one-fifth less energy than its predecessor. Additionally their bus fleet is completely fueled by biogas produced locally. SL tends to keep their trams and busses extremely clean and tidy. The trains sit at the same level as the platform for easy loading and unloading of strollers or wheelchairs. Seats are of a comfortable size and often face each other for increased sociability. They have been designed to accommodate the elderly and the disabled particularly in busses where riders have direct access to buttons for requesting stops or assistance.
SL allocates a substantial amount of funds each year in support of public art and requires that a percentage of each new construction project be devoted to enhancing the station with art. The emphasis SL places on aesthetics makes the station an attraction in itself and makes traveling via public transit a more enjoyable experience.

Trip Documentation:

In order to test the efficiency and ease of use of the public transportation in Stockholm, Sweden we travelled from City Hall to the Sparvagsmuseet (Transport Museum) through walking, T-Bana, and Bus #2. The entirety of our journey took 27 minutes and 10 seconds. It began with a short walk from City Hall to T-Centralen, which took us 7 minutes. From there we entered the station and waited 1 minute for the T-Bana headed towards Hagastra, in order to get to Slussen. Once on the T-bana it took us 3 minutes to arrive at Slussen. We walked outside to the bus stop and the wait for the #2 bus was 6 minutes. Once on the bus it took us 10 minutes to arrive at our destination, which was located right in front of the bus stop.
The trip itself was a pleasant one. It was easy to navigate where we needed to go, aside from the complexity at T-Centralen, which is to be expected from a station of that size. As tourists, we felt that safety was never a concern. With a large number of people from all walks of life travelling on public transportation, safety hardly seemed a concern for the Stockholmers themselves.

T-bana versus Muni (San Francisco):

Both Stockholm and San Francisco are comparable in population, 815,000 for San Francisco, and 830,000 in Stockholm. While Stockholm is larger in area at 72.6 square miles, San Francisco is not too far behind at 46.7 square miles. One of the differences we noticed between T-bana and Muni was the allowance of bikes on public transit. With the understanding that Stockholm prides itself on its sustainability and impressive public transportation network, it was surprising to see a lack of bikes on the various forms of public transit. San Francisco Muni, on the other hand, is generally open to allowing bikes depending on space and available bike racks. Stockholm allows bikes on buses between the months of May through September, but not during rush hour, and capping total bikes to two on a first come first serve basis.
Both T-bana and Muni provide a flat rate price for transportation, which means that distance does not play a role in determining how much it costs to get from Point A to Point B. Yet another difference between T-bana and Muni concerns aesthetics and cleanliness. While Muni does not allow food on board, it is generally not a very well-kept travel experience. However, the T-bana allows food and is much cleaner considering the potential this creates for an increase in trash.
Stockholm is known for its attention to aesthetics within the stations. Various art installations and murals create an inviting atmosphere while travelling on public transportation. This attention to detail is much appreciated in creating a pleasant experience. San Francisco, comparatively, does not emphasis art, or even aesthetics, in its station design. They act purely as functional transit hubs, rather than avenues for art.

1 comment:

  1. all of the students, and there for me every step of the way. I also want to thank our three fabulous grad students: Sasha Wisotsky, Jessica DeLora and Alex Harke plumber in laverne