Getting Around Sweden




59° 50′ 51.2664″ N17° 39′ 57.6576″ E

Date: Sun, 03/24/2013 – 9:52pm
Transportation in Uppsala is quite like it is back in America, although it is unique in a certain ways. People tend to bicycle around town rather than owning cars and generally take trains to travel outside of the city.
How do people get around?:  

I chose to study in Uppsala for numerous reasons, not the least of which being that it is a fairly small city. It takes less than an hour to walk from one corner of Uppsala to the other. Although it is rather easy to get from one place to another on foot, most people here choose to ride bicycles to get around. A majority of university students ride their bikes to class and it is not out of the ordinary to see adults riding their bicycles to work in the morning. I love riding my bike to class because it only takes me about five minutes to get from Rackarbergsgatan, where I live, to Geocentrum, where I study; but I recently broke my pedal off! I find bicycling to be the best way to get around Uppsala, although it becomes a bit difficult in the winter. Biking through thick snow or over ice (and sometimes both) took some getting used to but I eventually got the hang of it. Something I saw little of back in Arizona which I have seen a fair amount of here, is baby carriages on the backs of bikes. I often see a mother or father biking someplace with their child happily strapped in behind them. There are many walkways and bike paths in the city so there is little risk of these parents and children being harmed by traffic, but nonetheless, I was a bit surprised to see it!

In the winter, though, parents often pull their children around town on little sleds that they drag behind them. Sadly I did not take any pictures of this, but I promise it is hilarious. Actually, I was always jealous to see one of those kids being pulled around the snow on one of those little sleds. They did not seem to have a care in the world and it looked so fun!

I went to Stockholm with a friend last weekend and to get there we took a train, a metro (subway), and a bus. Trains are generally even more punctual than busses. The only time I have been on a delayed train was when I went to Abisko in northern Sweden to see the Northern Lights and the tracks froze! It took about two hours for the servicemen to thaw the rails so that our train could change its course. The trains here are not high-speed rails like those seen in Japan or Germany (which can go about 185 mph) but they travel much faster than busses. Travelling the 45 km between Uppsala and Stockholm took about 20 minutes by train, which means that the train was travelling about 80 mph.

The subways in Stockholm are like those in most other cities. They are often a bit overly crowded, but they provide a great way to get around in such a big and expansive city. The metro is quite inexpensive, costing about $2 per ticket.

Aside from bicycling though, busses are a popular form of transportation in Sweden as well. The public transportation system here is very reliable and efficient. When I first came to Uppsala I lived about 7km from town in a little suburb called Sunnersta. Taking the bus instead of walking allowed me to get to class in about a quarter the time it would have taken otherwise. Bus rides cost about 18 SEK (or a little over $3) unless you buy a monthly pass, which is what I did. It costs about 250 SEK (~$40) for a monthly pass, which, if you ride the bus daily, saves you about $100 per month. The busses here always seem to be perfectly clean and functional. They follow particular routes, pulling over at every stop at which someone is waiting. Something I learned the hard way, though, is that if no one is waiting at a stop and no one on the bus presses the ‘stannar’ (stop) button, they will not pull the bus over. I ended up having to walk about 1.5 km home once because I had assumed that the bus would just pull off at my stop! Generally though, the bus drivers are extremely friendly and understanding- especially when they realize that you are not from Sweden. Busses in Sweden use a fuel called biogas which is made from decomposing organic matter such as human waste and garbage. To use biogas in vehicles, methane has to be concentrated in the fuel more so than if it was being used for gas stoves or heating. I am extremely supportive of SJ (Sweden’s bus company) using biogas to power their fleets because it is environmentally friendly in more ways than one. Not only does it provide a way to dispose of human waste, it does so in a way that benefits the people whose waste it is!

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