Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hej Då, Sverige: Pt. 6

What's better than a list? A list in a list!

Hej Då, Sverige: Pt. 6: Gothenburg's Public Transportation System, Västtrafik

10 Reasons I'm Obsessed With Västtrafik

10. Cutest trams (oh, sorry, sparvagn) ever. Seriously, they look like they're straight from a Playmobil catalog.

9. Except for the tram I take into the city center. It's so mad!

8. Fittingly, I once saw someone get stabbed on the Angered tram. Couldn't decide if I was more frightened by the incident or amused by the wordplay. Also, I'm not sure how this ended up on a list of reasons that I love Västtrafik. Always exciting? Never a dull moment?

7. They run above ground, so you can see them coming and sprint the last 200 yards if need be. No more running down a broken escalator (WMATA...) at the last minute. No more Schrodinger's Metro.

6. ALWAYS. ON. TIME. Seriously, it took me a solid month to not leave 10-15 minutes earlier for things just in case the tram was late. DC Metro has given me a complex. But seriously, people start grumbling if the tram is even a minute late. The other day our bus came 30 seconds early, I kid you not, and Dusjan was like "See? They're never on time!" Swedes would die in DC. They'd see the infinitely blinking footlights and the looming ARR sign and keel over from a heart attack induced by lack of structure and punctuality. Even better, Västtrafik's website has a great route planner that is astoundingly accurate, allowing me to leave my apartment three minutes before I need to catch the tram. Glorious.

5. Did I mention they still run on time in the snow?

4. The honor system of payment. You can buy a tram/bus pass at any convenience store around the city- one day, three days, one month, or three months- but it's not necessary to touch your pass to the card reader each time you get on, since you have unlimited fare. Every once in a while the controllers come around in their massive ski pants and boots (seriously, they look like they just got back from a trip to Lapland) to check passes; the fine is around $200, which is more than a three month pass, so it's definitely worth it to not try to beat the system. Plus, the looks of disgust and silent public shaming you'll receive from the oh-so-honest Swedes is punishment enough. What this means, though, is that if you realize that you don't have your pass or you dropped it somewhere or whatever, you don't have to worry about getting stuck at an exit turnstile and having to deal to angry public transportation workers. And, since you have unlimited rides on your card, you never have to beg fellow tram-takers for spare change for your exit fare. It's a very people-friendly system.

3. The tram passes don't magically deactivate when you put them next to your phone. WHAT IS THIS MODERN TECHNOLOGY???? This list is quickly becoming a rundown of the Top 10 Reasons I Hate WMATA as much as it is Top 10 Reasons I Love Västtrafik.

2. Amazingly well-designed route layout:

Gothenburg is a city of 500,000 people, yet it has 12 tram lines, and about a gazillion more bus routes. At least 4-6 trams and busses run along the same route in the city center, which means that to get from point A to point B, you never have to wait long, and aren't stuck transferring 5489675467 times just to move eight blocks east or west, thanks, New York. Also, you're never more than a five minute walk from a tram stop, so you're never stranded in the city and/or snow.

1. Primo people-watching spots. Best time and place? The 9 on a Friday or Saturday night. Nästa: Vomitstorget.

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