Why Do They Buy Buses Everyone Hates?

Stockholm has a great mass transit system, called SL, despite the annual problems when subway trains can’t handle the snow or the leaves on the tracks are the wrong kind for the commuter trains. But a few years ago, when they started buying new buses, the models they chose were pretty awful.

Basically most of the new buses have very little leg room for most of the seats, and lots of the seats face backwards. The latter is kind of crazy, because no one likes to travel backwards, and some people can actually get sick from it. The only advantage of having a unit of four seats where two face the other two is if four friends get on together. But almost always when that happens one or more of the four seats is already occupied, so it doesn’t help anyway.

One might have thought enough people would have complained so that SL would stop buying these uncomfortable buses. Apparently not, because new ones have appeared recently, with even less leg room and more seats facing backwards. In the earlier ones it was perhaps one quarter of the seats that faced backwards, which was pretty bad.

But this morning when I got on one of the new busses I actually counted. Seventeen seats facing forward, two fold-down seats facing sideways in the middle of the bus where the baby carriages travel…and no less than twelve seats facing backwards!

That’s just under forty percent of the bus passengers being forced to travel backwards!

Whatever SL’s considerations in buying these buses, passenger comfort and passenger opinion are apparently not high priorities.

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