Young people might get free transport in Stockholm this summer

Following the success of an existing investment of 200 million kronor per year which, since 2016, has supported free summer activities for students, Sweden's Left party is waiting to find out whether a further investment will provide youths with free transport cards over the summer holidays.

Young people might get free transport in Stockholm this summer
Bus in the centre of Stockholm. Photo: uatp12/Depositphotos

The Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) has been in negotiations with the Swedish government since last August regarding the investment. Trafikförvaltningen and other transport companies have already been contacted to enable the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation to draw up the appropriate regulations.

The aim is to guarantee a yearly investment of 350 million kronor. This will give free access to local public transport for both primary and secondary school students from grades six through nine, as well as first- and second-year high school students, over summer for the next three years.  

The current chairman of the Left Party, Jonas Sjöstedt, is enthusiastic about the existing investment, claiming that “it has given plenty of nice summer memories for children around Sweden.”

“For many, it has meant friends whom you would never have met and activities you would otherwise not have done. Therefore, it is so pleasing that we now reinforce the investment with more money and target the new money towards school holidays. More children will get to enjoy a really good summer holiday,” he adds.

But he is not the only one to be optimistic about this new project.

Indeed, the Minister of Infrastructure, Tomes Eneroth, believes there will be beneficial consequences because “free public transport during the summer period can enable all schoolchildren to go to summer jobs or leisure activities no matter how the family's economy looks”.

Photo: oneinchpunch/Depositphotos

Odds for the reform look good, not least as a result of the success of the previous investment but also due to the economic situation Sweden now enjoys.

The project will come into force as soon as the final decision is made.

It will give almost 155,000 young people around Sweden the chance to travel within their municipality and, maybe, around their county as well, regardless of their parents’ incomes.

The Swedish government believes that this reform will help the promotion of local public transportation and highlights the importance of reducing travelling environmental impact.

Moreover, it will also encourage integration between students living in different areas who come from different social and economic backgrounds. 

Children will not only be able to discover new places and travel to their summer jobs without their parents’ help but also enjoy a wider range of extracurricular activities. This extra freedom may make them keener on using public transportation even once the academic year starts again in the fall when they would need to pay for the monthly card.

The project might be beneficial for public transport administrators as well, making them more open to investing additional money in the service if more people are using it. 

Whether the final decision for the reform will be made this month or delayed until the next, it's most likely young people will be able to travel around their municipality for free for three summers in a row starting this year, enhancing integration and reducing the environmental impact of travelling by car.

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Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.