It’s the county governments that administer local public transportation in Sweden, and the system is well-developed. For example, the city of Stockholm says that more than 700,000 people in the capital travel by public transport every day, and during peak hours, 78 percent of all trips to the inner city are made on public transit.
But despite concerns about the environment and inflation, the price of public transportation has risen sharply around Sweden in recent years. Swedish Radio News checked the rising costs of a 30 day travel card in all of Sweden’s 21 counties and regions. On the average the price of a monthly pass across a county has increased by 43 percent in the past decade, while the consumer price index has only gone up by 13 percent during the same period.
In Stockholm the price of a monthly travel card has risen by more than 1500 percent since 1975.
Commuter Linda Andersson in Karlskrona, in southern Sweden says prices have gone up too fast. “I think it’s too expensive and the prices just go up and up”, she tells Swedish Radio News. “And for me with children and a baby carriage, it feels like there’s less and less room. I don’t think we get enough for our money.”
Svante Axelsson, head of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, is critical of the travel card price increases. He tells Swedish Radio News that such price rises work against the goals of reducing travel by car and the cutting back on the use of fossil fuels. “Bicycle paths and public transportation,” he says, “are the foundation of the change over.”
Swedish public transportation is subsidized by tax revenues, usually covering around 50 percent of the systems’ budgets. The most expensive travel card in the country is in the large northern county of Norrbotten, which accounts for one quarter of Sweden’s total area, bigger than the American state of Indian or Scotland and Northern Ireland combined.
There a travel card costs nearly US$ 350 a month. Over the past decade there’s been an increase of more than 130 dollars.
But Arne Andersson, head of Länstrafiken, the public transit company in the north, plays down the importance of the travel cards.
He says the cards aren’t in demand there because they cover the whole county and most people take shorter journeys. Länstrafiken puts its focus, he says, on alternatives to the monthly cards.