One aspect of life here that I continue to be very grateful for is the public transport system – reliable, speedy, well designed, environmentally friendly (especially with the introduction of electric buses on some of the busier routes), clean and safe are the adjectives that come to mind for me.
The public transport system in Copenhagen doesn’t really ever get that busy even at rush hour times. For the last couple of years I have been commuting with my son to his preschool at ‘rush hour’ time and using a combination of public transport, which usually means two short bus journeys and a train journey. At first I was surprised at how relatively quiet the public transport system is even at the busiest times. I suppose the fact that over 40% of people commute by bike has something to do with this but I also think that the options available for public transport also help. I could choose between a variety of routes and transport choices to get us there or home, all of which take more or less the same amount of time, give or take. The fact you can travel with bikes on the S trains at rush hour time means that commuters can come in from further afield and still be able to get easily around once they are in the city.
But now my son is at a different school a new way of commuting has opened itself up to me. In Copenhagen you can use a bus boat that runs from one end of the inner harbour to the other and stops off at very strategic and well designed locations, opening up parts of the city that are relatively difficult to reach by metro or bus, without a long journey. It is actually easier for me to get to Kongens Nytorv this way than any other, especially if the roads are busy. There is no traffic in the way of the bus boat, unless you count the odd kayaker.
I realise that over the time here I have become very used to the benefits of an integrated public transport system where I can choose between a metro train, an overland train, bus or boat to get around. Interestingly when I mentioned using the bus boat to my dad, he was concerned that the price of the ticket would be too costly compare to other methods of travel but as it is run by the same transport company as the buses and in conjunction with all the other providers of public transport, the price is exactly the same. A zone 1 and 2 ticket covers you for any transport in those central zones.
Also in our new school world I am coming into contact with more car drivers. I think over our time living here, I have a handful of friends who own cars and very few who actively use them for day-to-day life. Sadly I think I was a little unsympathetic to the plight of finding a parking space near the school when, in my mind, the public transport links to the area are excellent and pretty fast. I am disappointed that increasingly city planners are planning in a higher density of cars in the central urban areas – a large 6,000 car parking house in the harbour opposite the Opera for example and there are fewer spots to safely park bikes in central areas. I have always maintained that it is unnecessary to use a car in the city and the reality is a lot more time-consuming and inconvenient than using public transport or a bike, plus costly as the price of public transport here is very low compared to the value you get from it.
My experience of public transport in other cities such as Berlin and London has always be very negative compare to the experience here and whilst it is lovely to be offered lifts on occasion, my preference still stays with my trusty public transport.