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

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Exploring Stockholm with the tunnel-bana

T-Centralen (Elvis Wong)
Navigating through the Central Station of Stockholm was pretty intimidating at first. Those early bird commuters who leave their homes at the crack of dawn (which is at 4:30 in the morning) will undoubtedly experience the metro system a lot more differently than the other 200,000 or so each day who catch the rush hour trains just a few short hours later. When Arek and I arrived at the T-Centralen (or T-Central in English) from Slussen, it was about mid afternoon. Before we could even step off of the train, an influx of hurried and impatient passengers bumped into us and squeezed onto the train before it promptly took off for the next station. Immediately we were greeted with a sea of chaos – men and women in business suits with eyes glued to their smart phones, mothers and fathers pushing baby carriages in one hand and coffee in the other, groups of teenagers, backpackers, tourists, street performers, and beggars – T-Centralen is where they all went or where they all ended up.
    Being the hub of high-speed public transportation, T-Centralen is a great place to go if you don’t mind the fast-paced, adrenaline-pinching hustle and bustle culture associated with taking any metro in a big city. Because it is the Central Station of Stockholm, T-Centralen easily connects every part of the inner and outer city. What’s nice about it is that it can also bring you to all of the major suburbs in the greater Stockholm area, which allows the 1.6 or so million of its inhabitants both the convenience and luxury of traveling to and from Stockholm and back to the comfort of their homes with just a 10-15 minute train ride.
    Not only is taking the metro great for citizens, it also fares well with tourists like Arek and myself. With our Stockholm Cards in hand, we were able to travel from place to place with relative ease, but I do have to point out that at first it was quite confusing. Being able to look at a map of the metro system and figure out which lines to take in which direction on which platform was at first difficult. What took me a while to realize was that all the metro lines at T-Centralen do not run on one level even though a glance at a map would seemingly indicate otherwise. With that said, I learned that the 20 or so lines that run through T-Central are divided throughout 4-5 stories of underground infrastructure.
    Besides the metro system, T-Central is also a center for aboveground transportation such as busses, light-speed rail, intercity high-speed rail, and even inter-continental travel. Along with multi-modal transportation systems, T-Central offers its passengers and customers with a wide variety of shops, boutiques, restaurants, convenient stores, food co-ops and grocery stores, and even art installations to enjoy as they go about with their day-to-day activities and travels. Who wouldn’t want to be there?

Kungsträdgården (Arek Medina)
The ride into King’s Garden Station, Kungsträdgården, is short and sweet. The three or four times we rode the line we only had to wait a few minutes at T-Centralen for our ride. The ride itself was great, it lasted about three or five minutes and it was smooth and quiet. Each train has plenty of seating and ample railings in case travelers need to stand. Most importantly, the trains are clean, which made taking the tram that much more appealing. Overall the public transit experience is way different in Sweden than my experiences in America. It’s much more connected to other means of transit and the stops are much more convenient. Because of this, we actually enjoyed going back and forth on the tram.
Another amazing aspect of the Stockholm subway system is the art in each station. Kungsträdgården is no exception. The floor of the terminal is painted with vibrant green, red, and white patterns, and as we made our way to the exit, a great “bridge” over two exhibits featuring interesting sculptures and climbing vegetation greeted us. Every time we got there I always had to look at both sides because the displays were so cool. Kungsträdgården was definitely my favorite stop along the Stockholm subway. Even the escalator is awesome because the station is so far underground. It goes up so far that you have to almost put your head at level with the railing to see the top, and the ride up or down takes several minutes if you don’t walk.
One downside we observed with the Kungsträdgården line is that it’s relatively short from T-Centralen. We noticed less people on the line compared to other lines, which could mean it isn’t as efficient or useful as the more popular lines. Of course this makes it better for tourists with the all-inclusive Stockholm Card, like Elvis and I, and we made a point to milk our Stockholm Cards by riding the subway free time and time again to do research for class or pick up a delicious sausage from our park side sausage guy.

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