‘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.


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.


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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What changes about life in Denmark in June 2021?

Coronavirus rules, travel restrictions and car registration fees are among the areas set to see announcements, updates or rule changes in Denmark in June.

What changes about life in Denmark in June 2021?
An electric-powered harbour bus operating in Copenhagen in June 2020. Photo: Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix

Changes to coronavirus restrictions

Denmark initially outlined a phased plan to lift its coronavirus restrictions back in March. The plan has been updated (and accelerated) on a number of occasions, with politicians meeting regularly to discuss adjustments based on the status and progression of the epidemic.

Initially, the government said it would lift the majority of restrictions by the end of May, when it expected to have vaccinated everyone over the age of 50 (apart from those who choose not to be vaccinated). Although the vaccination calendar was pushed back, restrictions are still being lifted, with the government citing progress with vaccinations and general good control of the epidemic.

In an agreement reached earlier this month, the government said rules requiring the use of face masks and corona passports will be revoked when all people over 16 in Denmark have been offered vaccination. The end-stage of the vaccination programme is currently scheduled to be reached at the end of August. But more detail on the plans for phased lifting of these rules is expected to surface in June.

READ ALSO: When will Denmark stop requiring corona passports and face masks?

A return to offices and shared workspaces, already set out to occur in three steps, will continue. In the first phase, which began on May 21st, 20 percent capacity were allowed back at physical workplaces. Remaining staff must continue to work from home where possible. This proportion will increase to 50 percent on June 14th (and 100 percent on August 1st).

Public assembly limit to be raised indoors, lifted outdoors

The current phase of reopening, which has been in place since May 21st, limits gatherings indoors to 50 people. This is scheduled to increase to 100 on June 11th.

Outdoors gatherings, currently limited to 100 people, will be completely revoked on June 11th.

August 11th will see the end of any form of assembly limit, indoors or outdoors, according to the scheduled reopening.

Unfortunately, this does not mean festivals such as Roskilde Festival – which would normally start at the end of June – can go ahead. Large scale events are still significantly restricted, meaning Roskilde and the majority of Denmark’s other summer festivals have already been cancelled.

Eased travel restrictions could be extended to non-EU countries

Earlier this month, Denmark moved into the third phase of lifting travel restrictions , meaning tourists from the EU and Schengen countries can enter the country.

The current rules mean that foreigners resident in EU and Schengen countries rated orange on the country’s traffic light classification (yellow, orange and red) for Covid-19 levels in the relevant countries, will no longer need a worthy purpose to enter Denmark, opening the way for tourists to come to Denmark from across the region.

Denmark raised the threshold for qualifying as a yellow country from 20-30 to 50-60 cases per 100,000 people over the past week.  

However, the lower threshold only applies to EU and Schengen countries, which means that, for example, the UK does not qualify as a yellow country despite falling within the incidence threshold.


But the 27 member states of the European Union recently announced they had agreed to allow fully vaccinated travellers to enter the bloc.

A Ministry of Justice text which sets out the plan for Denmark’s phased easing of travel restrictions suggests that the fourth phase, scheduled to take effect on June 26th, will see Denmark adopt the EU’s common rules on entry for persons from outside the bloc, meaning non-EU countries could qualify for the more lenient rules for yellow regions.

New car registration fees come into effect

New rules for registration fees for new vehicles, adopted in February, take effect on June 1st.

The laws, which will be applied retroactively from December 18th 2020, mean that different criteria will be used to calculate the registrations fees applied to cars based on their carbon dioxide emissions, replacing the existing rules which used fuel consumption as the main emissions criteria.

New rules will also be introduced offering more advantages for registering electric and hybrid vehicles.

You can find detailed information via the Danish Motor Vehicle Agency.

READ ALSO: Why is it so expensive to buy a car in Denmark?