Jan 21 2006

Tales from the commute: Winter Wonderland Odyssey

We had some snow overnight on Thursday, followed by a big temperature drop and high winds on Friday, so the electric lines that power the trains froze during the afternoon cancelling all rail traffic until 8 p.m. Unfortunately the company that runs the trains, Skånetafiken, didn’t make this information public until after I and many others were standing on the platform waiting for the 4:22  heading toward Malmö.

So I made my way in to central Landskrona along with multitudes of other stranded commuters to try to get on a regional bus. This was a bit of an adventure in and of itself as I’d never travelled this particular route before, so I just followed the crowd.

Now generally when the trains don’t run, Skånetafiken adds extra regional buses between the cities along the affected routes.  But I’m guessing that the person who was responsible for announcing the train service suspension to the public was also in charge of organizing the extra buses, because THAT didn’t happen either.

I found the bus station easily enough, but the only scheduled bus (departing every hour) was nearly 45 minutes late due to the road conditions and extra passengers, and because I wanted to make sure to get a seat, I stood in the queue out in the elements rather than seeking shelter in a nearby building. Fortunately I had my rain pants with me, so I was able to put another layer over my legs to protect against the wind, but it took a long time for the feeling to return to my toes once I was finally on the bus.

I managed to get a seat, but plenty of others were willing to stand in the aisle. Turns out there’s really good reason why I’ve never taken the regional bus before…the trip that takes less than 40 minutes by train is more than twice that long on the bus because it makes with multiple stops in small towns along the way. But the worst part was, I started to have the first inklings that I might need to take a leak within minutes of the starting of the trip. And even if there had been a restroom on this bus, there’s no way I could get to it in the crowd.

Needless to say, I was pretty uncomfortable by the time we got to Malmö an hour and a-half later, so after consulting with a pal who lives in the area where the bus would be making its first stop in the city, I decide to jump off there and dodge into a nearby grocery store to use the restroom. (Thank God for my mobile phone!)

Once my bladder was empty I could concentrate on how to get home from this particular location.  It’s a major transportation hub so I knew there would be a bus heading in the right direction. But the dozen or so bus stops are spread out over the equivalent of a large city block, and I had no idea which one was home to the bus I needed.  Once again, my cellphone saved me…with Dr. Darling providing the necessary directions to me after consulting Skånetrafiken’s website.

So, 3.5 hours after I left my office in Landskrona, I arrived cold and very tired at my apartment, having travelled a distance of about 27 miles (or 43 kilometers). Remind me again of the benefits of public transportation?

Feed my ego!

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