Tram Troubles!!

It’s been 10 months since I moved to Sweden. And at least in terms of infrastructure everything here seems so perfect, especially to someone coming from India! Of course Sweden is way expensive, but nothing is usually out of order here. When everything keeps happening as planned or as expected, life can start to get a little boring. Sometimes, there just has to be some randomness even in daily routine that can make your life more entertaining! And in an almost perfect city of  Göteborg, it is the lovely blue trams here that have been this constant source of entertainment for me! 😀

Even before my own experiences with the tram, I had heard from people living here from more than an year that a lot of trams get cancelled during winter if there is heavy snowfall. We never had “heavy” snowfall this year, so the effect of snowfall on trams is something I haven’t quite experienced. But not to worry, our trams don’t necessarily need snow to entertain us! 😉

So another thing I had heard from a friend of mine who stays in the same building as me and who also came to  Göteborg around the same time as me was that while he was on his way back home one day, there was some announcement made in Svenska and a lot of people got down at a stop. My friend did not. And then the tram went on another route! He referred to the incident as the tram ‘cheating’ him! 😀

Yes yes now I am coming to my own experiences. So my first experience I would say was not all that dramatic. An announcement was made in Svenska and remembering my friend’s experience, I chose to get off from the tram without trying to find out what the announcement was really about. Didn’t want to risk it you know, nor did I feel comfortable to ask anyone in the tram – I was still very new to this country and felt a little hesitant.

The next incident took me by quite a surprise. There were no prior announcements made. The tram stopped at a stop named Ullevi Södra and then some announcement was made and all of a sudden everyone was getting off the tram. Unsure of what to do, I did what I think is the best thing to do in a new place when you are not sure of anything yourself – just see what the localites do and do the same! So there was this huge crowd that got off from the tram and after getting down people seemed to split in different directions making me worry. But I spotted one large group moving in one direction and I chose to follow them. They walked down till the next tram stop and I was happy to be in known territories again :D. I thought the next tram would come, I could hop in and reach home. But that was not the end of it! As I came to figure, trams were not running on this stretch, possibly due to some repair work being done on the tracks, and so there were buses with tram numbers temporarily plying in this short stretch between Ullevi Norra and Redbergsplatsen. When one of these buses came, I was unsure whether to get in or not. At first, I did not notice the number being displayed on the bus. I was, as before, a little hesitant to ask anyone about what was going on. With all conversations around taking place in Svenska, it was impossible for me to know anything. But the magic rule – do what the localites do! And so I hopped onto the bus. And it was so crowded! Of course a tram is three times the length of a bus, so the bus had to get crowded. When I saw Redbergsplatsen, finally I was in known territories again and here ends this small tale. Yes yes, there are more :D.

This was in late October when there was a storm forecast for Southern Sweden and Göteborg. The met department warning even forced my university to cancel all lectures after lunch and all students and staff were advised to return home early to ensure safety. It had been raining all day and I was by myself in the university campus when I saw this order from Chalmers. And after making sure that a scheduled meeting was indeed cancelled, I left for home. On this day, the public transport was in total chaos! There was absolutely no correlation between the time displayed on the board at the tram stop and the time and order in which the trams were arriving and departing from the tram stop. After a long wait I did manage to get into my tram. Before I could reach my destination, there was an announcement made and as always, only in Svenska. This time with all the chaos and the storm warning, I did not want to get out of the tram if  it wasn’t really necessary. And so this time I asked a woman sitting next to me what the announcement was about. I found out that the tram routes were affected after my destination and so I did not have to get down earlier. The storm itself turned out to be a disappointment but the journey back home on that day showed that just a storm warning was enough to put the public transport in such chaos. The journey that normally takes about 30 minutes took well over an hour!

In yet another incident, the tram I was in lost electricity supply from the cables above and came to a halt in the middle of a main road. This was just before entering a tunnel; thank god it didn’t happen inside the tunnel since the lights were also not powered inside the tram and the tunnel would have been dark. The tram stopping in the main road meant the road traffic was blocked resulting in all the car drivers to start honking. Indeed, a very rare thing in Sverige! But the tram driver was also helpless and had to wait a good ten minutes before the electricity supply was restored and everything was back to normal.

Come April and springtime, the city authorities seemed to be so determined on relaying tram tracks almost everywhere. On certain stretches the old tracks were entirely pulled out and new tracks laid. This sort of work forced me to change the usual route I took to the university. After finishing work on one stretch, the work started on another stretch causing much confusion. Sometimes, I missed getting down at the stop I should have and ended up in a place totally new to me or got into the wrong tram. There were Västrafik officials at some stops to guide passengers but what if you are inside the tram and depend on driver’s announcements which were purely in Svenska! Getting lost and extending my journey time became very common during this time. But then why complain! It helped me explore parts of the city I hadn’t seen before ;).

With all the information mostly available only in Svenska, temporary changes in tram routes or delays cause much confusion to non-Swedish speakers like me. There was once a time when a tram did not move for a long time and repeated announcements were made in Svenska by the driver. This forced one non-Swedish speaker to walk up to the driver and request him to make the announcement in English too. Further on that route, the driver made announcements in both Svenska and English. Probably the only time I felt there was no suspense.

Well I could go on but I must stop :D. Maybe a large part of my ‘entertaining’ experiences have been due to the language barrier. Nevertheless, I love the lovely blue trouble-causing trams of  Göteborg! 🙂 🙂

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