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PUBLIC TRANSPORT

‘Make it more affordable’: Here’s how Denmark’s public transport system could be improved

It’s generally well-regarded, but that doesn’t mean that Denmark’s public transport system is perfect. Here's what The Local readers like, dislike and how they believe it can be improved.

'Make it more affordable': Here's how Denmark’s public transport system could be improved
Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard / Ritzau Scanpix

With expensive projects like the Letbane light rail in Aarhus and the new City Ring on the Copenhagen Metro, plenty of money is being spent on public transport in Denmark.

But how do readers think it can be further improved?

The good news is that over half of those who responded to our questionnaire considered public transport in Denmark to be ‘very good’ (43.1 percent) or ‘exceptional’ (11.8 percent).

“Most places in the country are ‘technically’ reachable by some form public transport, although it is not always the most convenient option,” wrote Riccardo Carollo of Aalborg.

“Vehicles are generally very clean and comfortable plus the sector is digitalized to a very high extent,” said Kiril Boyanov, who has lived in both Aarhus and Copenhagen.

Thanks to all those who took the time to send in their views. Let’s take a closer look at the responses.

As well as good coverage and digitalization, many praised polite drivers on buses, though others noted the occasional cranky ticket inspector on DSB’s trains.

“The buses are very clean and the vast majority of bus drivers etc are always very nice and helpful,” wrote Daniel Korec of Aarhus.

“Metro trains run frequently, regional trains (are) comfortable, ticket inspections (good), feels very safe,” added Julie Jensen, who is currently in Copenhagen.

Being able to transport bicycles for free on Copenhagen’s metropolitan S-trains was a plus point for Diogo Lobo, who also resides in the capital.

Punctuality, accessibility and not usually being overcrowded were all mentioned by several readers as a positive aspect of Danish public transport.

Off-peak

But others said that frequent repair works during off-peak times, as well as cancellations and late arrivals, had left them frustrated.

“Continued problems with signalling and engineering works provoking delays and train shifts” were the most negative aspect for Lobo.

“Very few ‘public transport only’ lanes means you get to be stuck in traffic behind private cars,” Julia Vol wrote.

Although convenience and coverage were generally praised, people living outside of the larger cities often observed things were less convenient for them.

“I need to wait a long time for the bus outside of the city,” Renjie Li wrote.


A driver's view of the Aarhus Letbane. Photo: Henning Bagger / Ritzau Scanpix

Buses between cities

We also asked for suggestions on how to improve Denmark’s public transport.

Sabine Vidrike, who lives in Odense, called for a nationalized bus company to offer a service between cities and regions as an alternative to national rail and private bus operator Flixbus.

“There should be state buses between bigger cities (not Flixbus, since that's a private company) that can work as an alternative to trains. Because at the moment, trains are the only option if one has to travel very early or very late. Flixbus doesn't offer early or late bus rides, which is tricky, especially when going to (Copenhagen) airport,” Vidrike wrote.

Journey times could be cut, one reader suggested – something that has also recently been discussed by the minister for transport, Benny Engelbrecht.

“They should cut not only inter-regional but inter-city travelling time by half,” Tarun Chawla wrote.

READ ALSO: Denmark targets one-hour rail times between five major cities

Chawla suggested more frequent departures and more coverage in general.

“Buses take a very long time to commute even smaller distances and the same holds true even for S-trains. The frequency of buses in the interior rings of the city is very bad and discouraging and thus it should be improved,” he said with regard to Copenhagen.

Carollo appears to agree on some of those points while taking a different view on others.

“Danish public transport seems to be mostly focused on short-distance commutes rather than as a valid replacement of the car: city buses and trains have too frequent stops, therefore travel times between big cities or within a city are, more often than not, unnecessarily long,” he wrote.

“Enable mobile phone RFID to check in and out, reducing need for cards and plastics,” wrote John Carmichael.

A number of readers also mentioned a lack of buses late at night and in the early hours of the morning in various parts of the country.

Expense

One topic that was mentioned frequently in relation to a range of questions was the cost of using the system.

“Make it more affordable,” wrote Selma Vital in Aarhus.

“I live in Aarhus. The buses are literally never on time. This is the reason why I think Danish public transport is very poor. It is quite expensive and yet it’s not even on time,” Daniel Korec wrote.

Korec questioned whether it was fair to charge double for tickets at night, as is the practice in Aarhus. He also praised the new Letbane light rail in the city, noting it was faster than buses.

There were two choices that featured more frequently than any other when we asked readers for their favourite form of public transport in Denmark.

That honour went to Copenhagen’s Metro and S-Train networks. The former was praised for its 24-hour operation and easy links to the airport; the latter due to wide doors, ease of boarding with bicycles and exits that are flush with station platforms.

READ ALSO: Readers' tips: These are the best ways to save cash in Denmark

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WEATHER

Essential rain gear for a wet Danish winter (and autumn, spring and summer)

Winter in Denmark is a shock to the system, particularly for those of us who come from warmer, drier climes. But if you know where to look, you can find the right rain gear to keep the Danish drops off your head.

Bicycling in wet Danish weather doesn't have to be
Bicycling in wet Danish weather doesn't have to be "træls" (bothersome) if you're kitted out in the right water resistant gear. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

This roundup is unsponsored and the fruits of much googling, review-reading, and recommendation-begging by a sad, damp American.

Where to shop? 

To try things on, the best places are Intersport, Spejder Sport (home to Columbia, Patagonia, Asivik and FjällRaven) and Eventyr Sport, as well as outdoor outfitter Friluftsland.  

To shop the Danish way, put in the hours combing the racks at your local second hand or charity shop. If you strike out there, search by brand on DBA.dk or Facebook marketplace.

Rain jackets: Regnjakker

Your rain jacket is your second skin in Denmark during the damp winter months. Helly Hansen is a go-to brand, according to a Johannes, a Jutland native who offered his recommendation to The Local. The Norwegian company offers well-made jackets at a reasonable price point, ranging between 600 and about 1,500 kroner. These can be ordered direct from the manufacturer or on Amazon.de (the German one) for delivery in Denmark—if you want to try before you buy, go to Eventyr Sport.  

A budget pick is McKinley, which you can pick up at Intersport. These cost between 200-400 kroner.

The classic Scandinavian splurge rain jacket is Fjällräven—these are available in stand-alone Fjällräven stores, Friluftsland, Eventyr, and Spejder Sport, and cost a not-unsubstantial percentage of your rent starting at about 2,500 kroner and climbing north of 6,000 kroner.

Rain pants: regnbukser

Rain pants are a novelty to those of us who don’t come from bike cultures, but after your first rainy day cycling commute leaves you at the office with drenched trousers you’ll understand the appeal.

The New York Times’ product review service Wirecutter highlights the Marmot PreCip Eco Pant as the best pick—here in Denmark, they’re available for men and women at outdoor gear purveyor Friluftsland for about 700-800 kroner.

McKinley also makes rain pants that will set you back around 200 kroner.  

Some of Patagonia’s rain pants, which we found at Spejder Sport, have side zippers for ventilation—if you’re on the sweatier side, this may be a good call. (Their website also proudly reports these rainpants roll up to the “size of a corncob.”)

Rain sets: regnsæt

Also on the market are rain sets, which are coordinating jacket-pant combos like this one from Asivik. It’s cheaper to buy the set rather than both pieces separately, but for many people it makes more sense to invest in a higher-quality rain jacket and go for a more affordable rain pant.

Backpack rain covers: regnslag til rygsæk

Backpack rain covers are an easy buy and cost orders of magnitude less than the laptops and other electronics they protect. Snag one on the way out the door at Intersport, Spejder Sport, or most anywhere that sells rain gear. Expect to pay about 60-180 kroner—just make sure it fits your backpack.

Gloves: Handsker

Your favourite fluffy mittens may not be well suited for your bike commute. GripGrab, a Danish company popular all over the world, offers a variety of waterproof and winterproof gloves— including the lobster style, which has split fingers that allow you the dexterity to ring your bell, pull your hand break and do a Spock impression at a moment’s notice. These are available at specialty cycling stores.

Rain boots: Gummistøvler

Perfectly serviceable budget rainboots are available at the same retail stores discussed above—though for longevity, look for boots made from rubber rather than PVC.

At a higher price point, Hunter rainboots are sold by Danish online retail giant Zalando and keep you dry and in style.

Tretorn is a Swedish brand over a hundred years old—their rain boots are available for both men and women through Spejder Sport and, of course, their website.

For women: available on the German Amazon website is the Asgard Women’s Short Rain Waterproof Chelsea Boot, one of the best reviewed women’s rain boots that doesn’t make you feel like you’re wearing clown shoes.

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