Monday, January 12, 2009

Three Useless Facts about Stockholm’s Public Transportation

It has been an exciting last few days in terms of public transportation epiphanies. All of which are completely useless. And one of which is more of a damning critique of my maturity level than anything else.

I ride a lot of public transportation. Trains. Buses. Subways. I really try to hit them all. For no other reason than I’m just way too cheap to pay for gas on a regular basis in this country.

But over the weekend I noticed something that I had overlooked. I have lived here for about a year and a half and still new things grab me every now and again. I was waiting for the subway, and as I was waiting another subway pulled up. It was heading to a different line so I wanted nothing to do with it. But then I glanced upwards. Not really up, just upwards. The subway car had a name. I thought I was mistaken. Maybe it was just this one car. Someone got a little creative. So I kept watching as every separate car went by. They all had names. At least all of the new subway cars. Those rickety old ones are shown no love.

I loved it though, they were very Swedish names. As if SL had just gone to the calendar and pulled off all the namnsdag names. Because in Sweden every day has a name or two attached to it. I don’t know why. But I loved that each subway car was given a name. And thought for some reason that it seemed very Swedish.

That’s one. The next one is that some of the buses are Mercedes’. I even took a picture. Which was somewhat blurry, despite the promised smooth ride of the Mercedes, the disdain of all bus drivers for any semblance of a quiet and smooth ride won out.

That’s two. And finally, the damning critique of my maturity level. On the way home this evening the sign that usually tells which station is coming up froze. And it didn’t freeze on Stockholm Central for example. It froze on “End Station.” Slutstation in Swedish. I actually laughed out loud. Which probably frightened nearly every Swede who was riding on the train with me. But I was ok with it.

Welcome to Sweden. Where Slutstation is always the final destination.

On a side-note, the above picture was initially titled "Stockholm SL Slutstation." Blogger would not let me upload it. It is now called "Stockholm SL Slustation." Apparently Blogger and google just don't like slutstations.

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  1. Actually, the names given to all the subway cars are names of famous Swedish people. Not sure if all of them have connections to Stockholm or not, but they're all famous Swedes nonetheless :)

  2. Names on trains and locomotives have a long history in some countries, notably Britain. Perhaps it's a little more dignifying to have a shiny locomotive dedicated to one's name than a dinky subway care but it's a nice practice nevertheless. I recall that Västtrafik, the regional transit for the greater Göteborg area starter out naming their trains but later stopped, claiming they had "run out of names"?!?

    In Skåne, Pågatågen have carried names of famous real or ficticious people with a local connection since the '80s.

  3. Ugh, I spell like a rake...!

  4. @anna - I didn't know that. good work.

    @eklandisk - also good work. although running out of names seems like kind of a lame excuse.

  5. namnsdag is just like a second birthday to swedes.

    Mine is in 3 days.
    Can't w8 for the presents and cake.

  6. yeah I understand a lot of people celebrate a namnsdag as a second birthday, but why are they on the calendar to start with. this is the big mystery for me.

  7. Names have been added to calendars for hundreds of years in Sweden. At first the names were only those of saints or martyrs, just like the Irish celebrate St Patrick on his day, so that the people of Sweden knew when to honor or celebrate each saint or martyr. And of course if anyone had the name of a saint or martyr, he or she was celebrated on that day too. Then as the centuries went by regular people's names were added or exchanged for the old saint names and the namnsdag became a more personal celebration than a religious one.

  8. oooh... thats a damn good answer. thanks!

  9. I found this post hilarious, if only because I had the exact same experience when I was there the first time, and so did ATM when she was there. I'm talking about reasons 2 and 3 (I didn't know the cars had names). Mercedes buses were interesting because they really are such a luxury item here. But the Slutstation was the real winner for me. I have more than a few pictures of that, as do any friends that came along with me.

  10. @the good Dr. - yeah, I guess the fact that mercedes is seen as such a luxury brand in the us is really what caught my attention.

    and the slutstation. well. its just hilarious. still. no matter how long Ive been here. everyone who comes to sweden from the us should be required to take a picture and share it with all of their friends.

  11. Oh my God! I can't believe I didn't see through the Slutstation :(
    BTW, I've been a silent reader for a while. This post pushed me to comment. :)

  12. well that probably speaks highly of your maturity level. and less so of mine.

    glad you commented!

  13. When I was in Stockholm for high school, my friends and I always laughed at "Slut! Station."

    If I remember correctly the word "slut" should read like sloot. Regardless, we would say it out loud as slut; be all obnoxious and ignorant like typical teenagers from a foreign country.

  14. see the thing is that its hilarious. youre right, its not at all pronounced like slut in english, but thats the beauty of playing with different languages.

  15. The names are names of Stockholmers, from when SL ordered the "new" wagons. They had a name suggestions thingy in the metro newspaper. I remember i suggested my own name, but they cut it appaearantly. although there are wagons called Muhammed and such if you are more observant.

  16. since first noticing the names on the wagons I have started paying more attention and there are definitely some names that don't really jive with the stereotypical swedish name

    kind of a cool idea that its a bunch of names from people in stockholm though.


    Here's all the info about the names, with motivation for each name and everything.
    SL can be pretty cute sometimes!

  18. oh that is wonderful. I love it!