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A Letter to Stadstrafiken – Public Transport for Lund, Sweden

Dear Public Transportation Managers (Swedish ones, in particular),

Please do not stop selling tickets for riding the bus on the bus unless you have realistic alternatives available.

This past weekend I arrived in Lund, Sweden, via train from Copenhagen. My destination was suburban Lund, accessible only via bus as the friend I was visiting is, currently, a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) and could not come downtown to meet me—and because of recent changes to the Lund bus system, she couldn’t give me accurate advice in advance.

I actually faced a number of challenges in getting from Lund Central to her place: First the train station has two halves and I picked the wrong half to exit through, so the directions from my friend didn’t exactly make sense. However, I was able to “right” myself and located the appropriate bus stop without too much effort. Secondly , I needed local currency. I’ve gotten so used to travelling within the €urozone that going outside of the Eurozone, but within the EU is confusing – especially since my wallet was already stuffed with Danish currency – fortunately this was relatively easy to fix.

With this out of the way, the next challenge was buying a bus ticket.

Here are the facts, as I understand them: (1) It is impossible to buy bus tickets on the bus in Lund, effective 1 June 2011; (2) One can buy bus tickets using your mobile phone, but you must (a) register your mobile phone and (b) have a Swedish mobile phone.; (3) You can use a “jojo” contactless stored value card to pay for individual journey (equivalent to cards in London, Lisbon, The Netherlands, and Atlanta); and otherwise (4) … well, I don’t have an answer for that.

Because of (1), and the fact that I don’t have (2(b)), I was left with, to the best of my knowledge, either (3) or (4).

The thing is, of course, that I, and the SAHM, expected there to be machines where I could buy a bus ticket – but there weren’t. The train station had ticket machines, but to the best of my ability to tell, the machines sell only inter-city tickets—I even tried to buy a ticket from “Lund” and then I thought I would enter “Lund” as my destination, but this didn’t work. Nor did the machines appear to issue the contactless jojo transportation cards.

I was confounded—information placards at the bus stops indicated only how to buy a ticket using your mobile phone. There were no machines at the bus stops, and I couldn’t buy a ticket on the bus.

So—what to do?

Buses to suburban Lund left every 20 minutes, so I thought I would take one gamble before I started asking locals for help: I tried my train ticket. I have no idea if the bus driver was being friendly or if my train ticket actually included local transportation—but he let me on the bus. I was safe and on my way to my SAHM’s suburban home.

In theory the bus drivers no longer sell tickets for their personal safety – presumably there was an armed robbery problem – but I want to suggest that the solution is not to stop selling tickets on the bus, it is to make tickets expensive enough that locals who take the bus regularly (or even infrequently) will buy the contactless jojo card or other tickets before they get on the bus, but still sell tickets to visitors from out of town.

Buses in every other community I’ve lived in or visited sell tickets on the bus or have machines at every stop that sell tickets: Denver, Bloomington (Indiana), Weimar, Berlin, New York City, and Copenhagen are the ones that first come to my mind.

The message to visitors to Lund is that if you cannot walk to it from the train station, we don’t want you visiting it.

It’s a stupid message.

Thanks,

Adam

PS- As far as I can tell, the only tickets that do not involve a Swedish cell phone or figuring out how to get a jojo card, are either the 24 hour or 72 hour tickets, which cost (at least) 65 or 165 Swedish Krona. Given that I wanted to take ONE bus ride, I hardly think that 7.13€ for a 24 hour ticket represents a good value. It’s actually a rip-off. If I didn’t have friends in Lund, I’d swear that you are actually trying to chase me away.

6 comments to A Letter to Stadstrafiken – Public Transport for Lund, Sweden

  • There is a similar problem in Houston, TX with traffic tolls. They set up a system on one road where the only way to pay is with a fast/easy pass transponder. If you are not from the area and need to pay cash, you’re screwed.

    Though I think I heard recently they are placing vehicle license recognition software and will mail you a bill for the toll if they sense you’ve not paid with transponder system, but then you get charged a different amount for the toll.

    Yet another thing a community does to say, “we don’t want you to visit…” Not that I would be visiting Houston as it is a very dreadful place.

  • Prashanth

    ah..those sweet little austerity measures that Europe is following!!…straight out of the beanstalk tale!

  • Reko

    Talade du svenska i Sverige?

  • Reko

    Vad betyder “JOJO”?

  • Cynical Queer – Nothing like treating people equally 🙂 Or at least giving visitors the opportunity!

    Prashanth – I’m not sure this is austerity — I think its strange work place rules!

    SAHM – Your Swedish mobile phone! That’s the other option. At least you have one of those– I don’t!

    Reko – Jojo is a contactless payment for public transit system, much like Oyster in London or Octopus in Hong Kong, or the system that covers all of The Netherlands.