Scania and the Swedish capital of Stockholm are both committed to sustainability. Together, they are developing the public transport of today and the future based on clean transport systems and biofuel. A bus tour through the “city of islands” shows what is possible today. The city, its people and its natural surroundings say
It snowed in Stockholm on the days prior to the photo tour – and then it rained relentlessly until just before the tour was about to begin. But as the red bus drove up and the photographer took out his camera, the blanket of clouds began to break up. Suddenly the water surrounding the medieval district of Gamla Stan turned from gray to silver, reflecting a rich and vibrant blue. And so the bioethanol public service bus set off through the Swedish capital.
The bright red city buses symbolize an ideal that has long been put into practice in this Baltic Sea metropolis: Sustainability in public transport. Already in 1989, the first test fleet of bioethanol buses took to the roads of Stockholm. Needless to say, the buses were supplied by Scania, the same Swedish commercial vehicles manufacturer that has provided the city with buses for 100 years. The success of the early “green” traffic planning can be seen in the fact that 75 percent of Stockholm’s citizens opt for public transport, taking the “Tunnelbana” subway, the ferry, or the bus. All of the city’s public transport buses run on either bioethanol or natural gas – which, incidentally, can also be said of 40 percent of cars registered in the city. Scania has been instrumental in cleaning up Stockholm’s traffic, having delivered over 600 bioethanol buses to the city’s transport services since 1989.
STOCKHOLM LEADS THE WAY
Priority for public transport – this principle is central to the “bus rapid transit” concept developed by the Stockholm city authorities and Scania, which allows buses to run on their own lanes and to keep to a regular, extremely frequent schedule. This concept has also been adopted in other major cities, such as Bangkok in Thailand, Curitiba in Brazil and Bogotá in Columbia. Recently, Scania also delivered 143 state-of-the-art city buses with fuel-efficient diesel drives to the South African metropolis of Johannesburg with a view to providing its citizens with fast, environmentally friendly transport.
In Stockholm, the bus is heading towards the royal palace – its mighty walls rendering it more imposing than inviting. Even though it is rush hour on a normal working day, the traffic is flowing and the bus continues on its way unhindered. Not a sign of congestion. A few cars are waiting at the traffic lights but all pass through once they turn green again. In 2007, the local authorities introduced a toll for motorized vehicles entering the inner city. “For many people, that took some time getting used to,” recalls Jonas Strömberg, “but sometimes good things can only be achieved the hard way.” Strömberg, Director of Sustainable Solutions at Scania, accompanies us on the city tour together with Björn Westman, the company’s Head of Engine Development.
Strömberg has been there right from the start. In the 1990s, he worked for the city’s transport authorities developing the Stockholm transport concepts that are now hailed as pioneering. When he joined Scania, the notion of sustainable transport continued to fascinate him. Jonas Strömberg and his colleague Björn Westman both agree that sustainability is the result of many small steps. And, above all, words must be followed by action right where it is needed – such as in his native Stockholm.
The bus, its 9-liter diesel-ethanol engine producing 270 PS, drives on past the “Riksdag”, the seat of the Swedish parliament. Next stop, Riddarholmen Island, where magnificent mansions and private palaces line the coast road. From here, you can see all the way across the water to the city hall, which boasts a 106-meter high tower. The Nobel Prize Banquet is held in this “Stadshuset” every year. Marie Curie gave a speech here after winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1911, the same year that the first Scania bus was seen on the streets of the capital.