Posts Tagged ‘metro’

Stockholm’s subway art

July 5th, 2018

Stockholm’s subways are considered a type of art gallery by many. It’s hard to explain without photos, so here’s some I captured during my time riding around in Stockholm.


When I came and left Stockholm from the airport I took the commuter rail to and from Central Station on SL’s commuter rail. This station is enormous — it’s technically two separate stations connected together — and is at least eight levels deep. The commuter rail platform I took features tiles painted to look like trees with birds here and there.

Stockholm Stockholm Stockholm

The Metro (or T-bana) part of the station I found myself in features blue-on-white floral patterns and silhouettes of workers. This was a challenging part of the station to take photos as passengers were rushing through and I tried my best to remain out of their way.

Stockholm Stockholm Stockholm

If you’re familiar with Stockholm’s subway art, the station that probably jumps to mind is Solna Centrum with its red and green color scheme. This station’s unlikely to be visited by most tourists due to its location. Still it’s worth a detour for those interested.

Now that said most photos make this station look dark and dramatic, but it’s actually well lit and contains funny murals and dioramas. So it may not be exactly what you expect.

Stockholm Stockholm Stockholm

The design of the Stadion station invokes a sky motif with a sky blue color and a big rainbow in the middle. It’s a a strange choice for an underground room.

You’ll also find a poster for the 1912 Olympic games here as the station is near the Olympic stadium (hence the name of the station.)

Stockholm Stockholm Stockholm

The art at Tekniska Högskolan station reflects it’s proximity to Stockholm’s technical university. There’s a map of the solar system (not to scale) built into the wall. A giant apple precariously dangling from the ceiling represents Newton’s theories, which are also written on the wall in Swedish.

The strangest art is a sculpture in the middle of the station: a dodecahedron with clear sides, with a black rod in the middle and some curly pasta looking things surrounding the rod. What’s going on here? According to the subway art tour I attended, this is a representation of a Stephen Hawking quote about what you’d see if you were sucked into a black hole just before you died. You can view this as it’s intended by standing directly under it and looking straight up. Apparently Hawking himself visited this station and approved of the sculpture. I’d imagine not many subway stations can make such a claim.


Kungsträdgården station is just below the King’s Garden, as the name suggests. If you listen carefully you can hear water trickling in the station, which isn’t really ideal — a mildly toxic fungus has to be cleaned out of the station regularly. The art includes strangely shaped light displays, ivy growing over broken white sculptures, a petrified tree stump, etc. It has a sort of otherworldly sensibility down there.

Stockholm Stockholm Stockholm

Bonus: This one’s not a subway station though it is on the Stockholm Metro. Thorildsplan station is in fact above ground, but the art is fun and I couldn’t leave it out. Tiles are used as form of pixel art to make the station an homage to early video games, in particular Pac Man and Super Mario Bros.

You may have no practical reason to visit Thorildsplan — I certainly didn’t — but it’s worth checking out if you want to see the only metro station in the world designed to look like old video games.

Muni needs signal priority

March 16th, 2011

The SFMTA recently announced some big changes to the messy intersection at Church and Duboce, which is a notorious mess for Muni Metro, the 22 line, bicycles, private vehicles, and pedestrians. Streetsblog covered the changes in depth in an excellent article.

One strange aspect to the renovation which Streetsblog mentions is that there will still be no traffic signals at the intersection.

SFMTA staffers said adding traffic signals would cause unnecessary delays to Muni lines, particularly for the 22-Fillmore running north on Church Street, Kaufman said.

Traffic lights = delays? Somehow that statement doesn’t ring true.

Anyone who regularly travels on Muni Metro through this intersection, or the similar intersection at Ulloa and West Portal, can testify that these intersections are a major source of Muni Metro delays. (The West Portal intersection is actually worse, since Muni Metro has a signal but other traffic does not.)

If we really want to be a “transit-first” city, doesn’t it make sense to have traffic signals that give preference to transit? Especially in the case of Muni Metro, which is supposed to be “rapid” but when mixed with traffic is anything but.

Other transit systems give signal priority to trains and buses. Even VTA in Santa Clara County — which admittedly is a lousy system for many other reasons — gives signal priority to express buses.

Since Muni Metro in many cases has special traffic signals which do not apply to cars, couldn’t we at the very least use these signals to allow Metro LRVs to pass through intersections with priority to all other traffic?

Signal priorities could give many other Metro lines an advantage on many lines, including:

  • T line on 3rd St
  • Both the T and N lines on King and Embarcadero
  • M and K lines along West Portal
  • M line on 19th Ave
  • N line at 9th and Irving
  • J line on Church
  • Granted, this is an expensive proposition, as it involves altering traffic signals, adding signal remotes to trains, and operator education. But when it comes to making getting around the city with reliable speed, it’s worth the cost.

How to fix Muni Metro

June 14th, 2010

A few years ago, I moved closer to a Bart station simply so I could get to work on time. While Muni Metro has the potential to be a great system, it simply didn’t work for me for any other situation where I needed to get somewhere on time.

The problems I experienced with the Metro are systemic but not intractable. Here’s a few “no duh” solutions to fix Muni Metro.

At the very least, riders need to know when they’re going to be late. When there’s problems on the Metro, the control center needs a way to notify everyone that there’s a delay.

Riders should be notified of what type of delay occurred and be given an estimate for how long the delay will take. This means direct communication with people in trains and people waiting at station platforms. Ideally, bus stops would have this information as well.

Muni has no excuse for failing at this; Bart does this VERY well! During a delay, the Bart control center announces the delay to all stations and on all train loudspeakers. Why can’t Muni Metro do the same?

Being a combined streetcar/subway system, there’s many places where traffic interacts with Metro trains. These areas slow trains unpredictably.

The intersection at West Portal and Ulloa and the intersection at Duboce and Church both see multiple Metro lines exit the tunnel and enter the street. These two places are also notorious for 10 minute+ delays.

Why? Because both intersections have stop signs. Drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists compete with trains in getting through these intersections, often darting in front of trains. Adding a traffic light at both intersections would at least make the delays minor and predictable.

Secondly, other intersections could be improved. A traffic light at Cole and Carl would speed up the N-Judah line slightly. The area where the M-Oceanview crosses 19th Ave has a light, but drivers often block the tracks. A light timing adjustment here would help immensely to get drivers off the blocked section. Failing that, cops should be dispatched to give tickets to motorists who (illegally!) stop on the tracks.

Door malfunctions
When I lived in the Sunset, malfunctioning doors on the train were a source of delays for me on a weekly basis. On some trains, the doors simply won’t close when the train is on an incline. This is unacceptable in a city as hilly as San Francisco.

The doors NEED to somehow be fixed so they can close. This seems like a maintenance no-brainer.

Train spacing
Train spacing solves two problems: being trapped in a tunnel and waiting too long for a train.

When there’s problems with trains ahead of you, riders shouldn’t be trapped on a stationary train in a tunnel. They should be brought to the next station and given the choice to get out and take a bus. A major reason this happens is because there’s too many trains in the tunnel for everyone to arrive at a station platform and get off. In other words, the tunnel is over capacity. The control center could have prevented this, but rarely does.

Likewise, at surface stops you occasionally see several trains go by in a row. This indicates the trains weren’t spaced correctly.

Unlike buses, spacing can and should be resolved in the tunnel. When trains turn around, if there’s three L-Taravals in a row, at least one of them should be changed to a different line. If there hasn’t been a J-Church in the past 20 minutes, why not make it a J-Church? The train control operators can simply change the destination of any train at the Embarcadero switchback. But more often that not, they don’t.

Unfortunately, these problems are obvious to the riders of Muni Metro. Why hasn’t Muni taken action? Are the directors of the MTA unaware of these issues? Do they not care? I can’t tell.

What’s going on, Muni?