Friday, May 14, 2010

Debate over public transit investments

STOCKHOLM-COPENHAGEN. A new tram/streetcar network and a significant expansion of the metro system are signs of visionary investments in public transportation in the Swedish and Danish capitals.
But these are expensive investments and now fears of cost overruns are raised in both cities.
In Stockholm the new Spårväg City (Streetcar City) is taking shape in front of prestigious department store NK on Hamngatan (left), one of the main shopping streets. Rails are in place and in August traffic is expected to begin between Hamngatan and the popular recreational area on Djurgården.
Spårväg City will mark the return of tram/streetcars in central Stockholm. The old network was dismantled in the late 1960’s when the first parts of an extensive metro system were opened.
The Social Democrats, who are in opposition in Stockholm’s City Hall, have called the streetcars a waste of tax payer’s money. According to daily Dagens Nyheter, the Social Democrats now claim that the project is already costing more than expected and that new money has been set aside for the cost overruns.
Spårväg City is planned to eventually connect the western edges of inner Stockholm to a new development on the eastern edge of the city.
In Copenhagen the relatively new metro system is being expanding with a new ring line expected to be opened in 2018. The modern, driver-less metro (right) has been a success and was earlier this year named the best metro in the world.
But according to daily Politiken, experts now see sign that there is a risk for delays and cost overruns in the project. A representative of the Danish construction industry says that an old-fashioned bidding model for the project will lead to conflicts with higher costs and delays as a result.