Sunday, February 21, 2010

Snow Storms and Public Transportation

I ignored all warnings to stay home today. I’m kind of a rebel like that. At 1:45 I left my apartment to head into town. It usually takes me 5-10 minutes depending on which mode of public transportation I choose. Train or bus.

I chose train today. It takes less time and is closer to my apartment although it doesn’t come by as often. It was the wrong choice. The train was cancelled.

Fine, up to the bus stop it was. I lucked out and a bus came by after only a couple of minutes. I climbed aboard to a bus full of cross country skiers. And away we went. We didn’t even make it one stop. Ahead of us was another bus that had decided to stop at a horribly awkward angle blocking all traffic. Wonderful. The cross country skiers were getting antsy, especially the older creepy lady with the unnaturally red mouth. Eventually, a group of them made their way to the front and were let off in the middle of the road. I assume they put their skis on and went skiing towards Dalarna to round up the farmers for a revolution. I could be wrong though.

I continued to wait. The bus was warm and aside from trying to find a pair of shoes with no holes, I had nothing to do. Plus, the bus was warm and the aforementioned hole-y shoes are not all that conducive to hiking into town.

Instead I stared out the window at the traffic chaos that was playing out in front of us. People were honking. Making illegal turns. Driving on the wrong side of the road. Dodging pedestrians. Even at one point driving up on the median. It was incredible.

Twenty minutes went by and I started to get restless. I got off and began the hike into town. At this point I was cold and kind of annoyed. It snows during the winter. It happens every year. Yet SL was not prepared. They said it was because of the icy roads and the sustained rate of snow fall. Fine. But I was still hiking because the damn bus got stranded.

My mood changed after watching a boat break up the ice under the bridge I was crossing. I am easily amused.

I continued my walk and after passing one bus stop saw a bus pull up to a second. Perfect timing. Off we went towards town. Then it happened. Again. A bus was stuck right in front of us. This time, the bus had managed to drive into a traffic light. I’m not even sure how he managed to hit it. But he did.
We stopped. And waited. Our bus driver though, in a fit of impatience decided to pull a horribly awkward manoeuver. He angled the bus out into oncoming traffic, quick turn back towards the broken bus, and a couple more turns of the steering wheel and we were home free. An impressive show of driving really.

I stepped off the bus and headed into the subway station. One line was said to be running irregularly. This meant that there were two men on the tracks breaking off ice and sweeping it away while the board flashed the occasional warning that the subway would come when it damn well felt like it. And eventually it did.
Over an hour after having left my apartment, I made it into town. It involved one cancelled train, two different busses, a hike, two broken busses, and an icy subway track. A few hours later, the return trip was much smoother. Unfortunately, I had no new shoes to show for my trouble.

Welcome to Sweden. And my continued bad luck with the winter weather.

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  1. I know what hell you went through........ I don't wanna talk about it.><

  2. May I just say (perhaps state the obvious) that in SL's defence they're not the ones responsible for the clearing of roads. That of course doesn't mean they should drive into traffic lights or other objects, that's just down to them being completely useless drivers - always too fast and careless of the conditions.

    I'm sorry about your cold feet though (but haven't we had snow for, like, three months now?!)!

  3. That’s manmade global warming for ya, so hot and hardly any snowfall...

    And I do hope you’re right about the Dalarna revolutionary idea.

  4. @ terander
    ya I agree with you on that one!! When I got really frustrated with swedish transportation , the snow covered streets, etc, I always try to remember that this amount of snow is not normal for them, they are not used to dealing with so much.

    poor bastards. lol

  5. @lost - yeah there have been some horror stories rolling in.

    @terander - and really, Ive been pretty impressed with SL. Except for today. and the hole is new, which is why it is becoming somewhat acute.

    @apocalypse - that tends to be where the swedish revoltuions begin.

    @lost - its a thankless job.

  6. Same shit in Gothenburg. The Tram/Lightrail to the suburb that I live in was cancelled becaus of a bus that got stuck on the railway. Yay, I had to take a Taxi (Svarttaxi, billigare och trevligare "chafförer") to get home.

  7. Nice billboard :)

  8. Here's an appropriate Swedish solution to your holey shoes:



  9. LOVE the Ikea boots! I realy think you should try that!
    No shoes you liked in town after all that?

  10. Oooooooooooohhh! I didn't see the pics and the video clip before (why?)!

    I love your fascination with the ice breaker, and I hope the second pic is of the man clearing the ice and not of the half naked model (as that'd make you the 2nd North American man blogging about it)...

    Yeah, and seriously - I don't think Stockholm's had this much snow in at least the last 30 years, so it's really no wonder things aren't going all that smooth. Plus, at -22 a lot of things freeze, including train tracks (obviously).

  11. @terander: So who's the other North American man blogging about it?

  12. Thanks for the great photos! I also loved the video; it was strangely mesmerizing. I can't believe that how fast that little boat moves through the icy waters =P

    Congrats on Sweden's 3-0 Olympic hockey win vs. Finland! What a decisive victory. Isn't Finland supposed to be like the No. 1 seed or something (sorry, don't know anything about hockey).

    Stay warm this week! :) -S.

  13. The worst thing isn't the tracks freezing, yesterday 4-5 subway trains couldn't stop because their brakes had freezed. And the secondary brakes. The emergency brakes didn't work either. One train just swooshed past Medborgarplatsen, Slussen and Gamla Stan stations. Apparantly there was a train at Gamla Stan which got the orders "kör, kör för helvete, kööör"....

    Roslagsbanan is being cleared of snows by trains from 1909 that they borrowed from a museum. The new trains don't do the job. Makes me question new technology a bit :(

  14. @Ujj – Im kind of glad to hear that other cities in Sweden are also struggling.

    @anonymous – Björn has good taste.

    @anonymous - I think the superman shirt really completes the outfit.

    @mamma – plenty of shoes. In fact, four different stores and not a single one of them had the shoes I wanted in my size.

    @terander – I was a bit slow in getting that video posted.

    I wasn’t the only one fascinated by it. Plenty of others stopped. I was the only idiot though that took my gloves off to film it.

    And yes, the billboard was just an innocent bystander. It just happened to give credence to the fantasies of men everywhere about the blonde Swedish bombshell.

    @anonymous – you just want more pictures don’t you?

    @anonymous – thanks! It was clipping right along through the ice.

    And Finland was not the number one, although they were up there in the rankings.

    @anonymous – those are the best orders ever. Good to get the adrenaline pumping for the train conductors I think.

  15. I am particularly thankful on days like this to be on paternity leave. I had to walk up the hill, drop off a kid at daycare and then head home, my hands and feet already hurting.

    I think the only way I could have gotten to my job in Kista today would have been by snowshoe or reindeer sleigh ...

  16. @anonymous - the other blogger can be found at

  17. Jag hatar det här vädret! Det tog mig två timmar att ta mig hem idag. Jag fick gå på grund av att bussarna "gått sönder". Det var i alla fall vad chafföridioten sa innan han tvingade alla att gå av och sedan körde vidare, wtf!

  18. @Nathan - just another plus for the swedish parental system.

    @terander - good work.

    @Cold brat - that sounds miserable. as a general rule, if someone claims the bus is broken, driving away without your passenger is no way to build customer loyalty.