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One million Swedes hit by winter bus chaos

TT/The Local/vt · 12 Feb 2011, 18:54

Published: 12 Feb 2011 10:48 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Feb 2011 18:54 GMT+01:00

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As a result, Storstockholms lokaltrafik (SL) Chairman Christer G. Wennerholm has threatened to fine the operator's bus contractors, who lost 15 million kronor ($2.31 million) in revenue on Friday due to the cancellations.

"We believe that up to 1 million passengers were affected," Thomas Silvander of SL's press office said on Saturday.

The reason behind the cancellation of bus services on Friday remains unclear. Traffic returned to normal on Saturday morning with only minor disruptions.

Social Democrats on Stockholm's county council have demanded that SL show its agreements with bus contractors.

"I think that it was a very drastic decision to suspend in large part all bus services. It feels like an extreme decision even if it was extreme weather," Helene Hellmark Knutsson, opposition county council commissioner and second vice chairwoman of SL, said on Saturday.

"Stockholm cannot come grinding to a halt in this way. People cannot go to work and school. In addition, daily life was disrupted to the tune of about a million kronor in lost wages, costs that do not end up in SL's account," she added.

According to Wennerholm, SL is considering fines if it determines that contractors did not fulfill their agreements.

"Contractors who made the decision to suspend bus services may have been too cautious in their assessment. It remains to be seen," he told Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) on Saturday.

According to Silvander, SL will discuss Friday's bus chaos with all involved parties in the coming week.

"SL will go through this particular day with our contractors, with the road managers and all involved, to look at how we can prevent this from happening again in the future," he said.

Separately, Sweden's Infrastructure Minister Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd has come under heavy criticism for the transit disruptions from other members of the ruling Alliance coalition's parties.

In addition to the bus cancellations, trains were also delayed as a result of the heavy snowfall over large parts of southern Sweden on Friday.

Following the numerous interruptions last winter due to unprecedented snowfall, the smaller parties in the Alliance have demanded more money for Sweden's infrastructure.

"There must be more money in order to get around," Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson told newspaper Dagens Industri on Friday.

She called for increased investments in maintenance and the expansion of rail service.

"There was a reason why I wanted a Centre Party member for the infrastructure minister post," she said.

Christian Democrat Mats Odell, chairman of Sweden's parliament's, the Riksdag's, industry committee, said that the situation is "completely unacceptable."

Story continues below…

"It is clear that there must be a thorough increase. It will require major investments in the future," he said.

Liberal Party economic policy spokesman Carl B. Hamilton agreed and felt that the directors did not do their job.

"If it is true that Sweden has never invested so much in infrastructure as now, but it still does not work, is it not time to replace the heads?" he asked.

However, the amount of resources the government invests does not play a role in the weather, according to Elmsäter-Svärd.

"They could not cope with the weather. We cannot run at full capacity when the weather is so extreme," she said.

TT/The Local/vt (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:31 February 12, 2011 by dammen
When will people wake up - this is what happens when public services are privatised and the contract given to the lowest bidder - buses, trains and even snow ploughing. Swedes wanted more competition but didn't look to what it would bring - just look at the state of the UK public transport system after privatisation.
11:36 February 12, 2011 by Puge Henis
I guess the snow took the Swedes by surprise as they are not used to getting snow every year... oh wait...!

@Dammen, good points!

Go with the lowest bidder and expect the best service - that always works out well

12:31 February 12, 2011 by swedeb
What's the population of Stockholm?? 1 million affected seems pretty exaggerated.
12:33 February 12, 2011 by just a question
you should go to Norway and see how train services are suspended during weeks due to the snow! or pay huge electrical bills because they don't have any alternative way to warm the house! or clean your roads yourselves because nobody clean them!

Sweden still has a good way to deal with winter and snow.
12:36 February 12, 2011 by Båt-boy
I find it unusual the type of tyre these buses use. As a regular user of SL buses the traction these tyres provide is questionable. Car drivers are required by law to fit winter tyres but a bus that can carry a huge amount of people does not have too???? SL look at your darn tyres and ask yourself "are these best for snow and ice??" ........and when you come up with the answer you will realise perhpas why you get stuck so often!!
15:11 February 12, 2011 by philster61
Not even Norwegians can afford to live in Norway anymore. Save for a few tax evading rich ones. But saying that, At least the Swedes and Norwegians deal with the snow far better than the Brits. haha
16:02 February 12, 2011 by Haubits77B
Well, my English is bad, but to translate "län" to "county" is even worse! Sweden has had no Counities since year 1697!!!

The right translation would be "Province".....
18:16 February 12, 2011 by reason
It's all a question of cost. How quickly we want the roads clear of snow and how much we're willing to pay to have that kind of capacity on stand-by for six months of the year.

Not counting SL buses, I think traffic was fairly ok yesterday. It's ridiculous to believe that heavy snows will not cause some delays.
20:49 February 12, 2011 by jack sprat
Hmm, and this is the country where everything carries on as normal during bad Winter weather.

From the never ending tales of woe relating to all forms of Swedish travel over the last two or three years it seems nothing could be further from the truth.
22:00 February 12, 2011 by superturbo
good thing that I don't have to use public transportation nowadays ...
02:03 February 13, 2011 by 2394040
Just looking at the picture with this article should explain to any intelligent person why buses might not be able to run..
07:47 February 13, 2011 by Skåneräv
Haubits 77

County is the right word for län, take a look here: http://www.lansstyrelsen.se/lst/en/

Province would be Landskap in Swedish.
14:35 February 13, 2011 by Haubits77B

But that is a bad translation - it isn´t a county. A better translation would be "political province" for Län and "historical province" for Landskap.

Or, maybe duchy is the best translation. For exampel: the Län of Gävleborg is also the duchy of Gästrilkand and Hälsingland with princess Madeleine as the Duchess.....

The Swedish countys and the land of the barons were generally small areas. The history of Swedish countys where ended by king Charles XI in 1697. A few Barons held land until last centuary.
19:49 February 14, 2011 by Toonie
This story is clearly fictional. Ask the spokesperson at the Swedish Embassy in London. According to her, Swedes just smile and get on with life. Nothing stops.
07:57 February 15, 2011 by EP
Even in "poor" Siberia they have better and more reliable train and bus service in the winter time than in "modern" Sweden ... sheesh!. Winter comes every year, Sweden is a norther country ... when will it finally come to terms that snow is part of winter?
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