Slussen is one of Stockholm's main transit hubs, with a clover-shaped road network, metro and bus stations, and locks that let boats pass between Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea. Its tunnels, roads and walkways linking Södermalm island to the Old Town are notoriously difficult to navigate for newcomers and tourists.
A huge redevelopment project to spruce up the 83-year-old structure (construction work began in 2016 and is scheduled to be completed by 2025) is not making things easier, as a new short documentary shows.
Johan Palmgren's film “Spårviddshinder” (“The Traffic Separating Device”) captures the unexpected consequences of a bus trap at the junction, designed to make sure cars do not filter through into the bus lane but instead resulting in unwitting drivers damaging their vehicles, puncturing tires and causing queues on a daily basis.
“I've followed the redevelopment of Slussen in two previous films, so I have my own little mini-epic on that whole project. I walked past one day and it was exceptionally chaotic: it looked like there had been an accident on the southern part. All of the cars trying to drive down that way got stuck in this bus trap. There was queue back for several hundred metres, complete chaos,” Palmgren explained to The Local.
“I just stood and looked and thought this is completely absurd, I have to film it a bit. And it continued. I reckon if you go down today, stand and look for a while you'll definitely see several incidents, so it keeps going,” he laughed.
Ironically, the bus trap was installed a year ago in an effort to resolve a previous piece of ineffective planning.
“The city was forced to do something because in the beginning they had traffic wardens who were tasked with stopping the traffic with red flags and waving buses through, but they were threatened and almost driven over by angry drivers. So they decided to put this trap in.”
“The problem is that all tourists end up driving through the wrong way and over it, and everyone who is looking at their GPS does it too. As well as a lot of old people. They're not aware they're doing anything wrong,” he continued.
The documentary is available to watch in Sweden on public broadcaster SVT's online player, while international viewers will be able to see it as it travels the film festival circuit, including the Hot Docs festival in Toronto, Canada, this spring.