Norwegian Language Blog

Det fantastiske norske offentlig transportsystemet. Posted by on Jan 9, 2009 in Uncategorized

The fantastic Norwegian public transportation system.

We don’t need researchers to tell us that Europeans are healthier than Americans.  We can walk down a busy street and see the drastic physical difference between the majority of Europeans and the majority of Americans.  Norwegians are not an acception to this rule.  I remember when I first arrived in Norway, I thought to myself- wow, these people look great.  And I’m not saying they all had nice hair or perfect skin (although many did, of course), but they just looked healthy.  They looked fit.  They look like they get a logt of exercise from walking to get from place to place.  Or perhaps they belong to a sports club where they participate in a handball team or a ski team.  Whatever it may be, they simply look great.  Much of this, as I mentioned, can be attributed to the fact that Europeans walk much more than Americans.  They are not completely obsessed with driving cars like we are, and the public transportation system is exceptional.

To get from Oslo to a farm in a tiny town outside of Ålesund, my father and I took several forms of transportation, the T-bane (subway), tog (train), Hurtigruten (coastal ship), buss (bus), and drosje (taxi).  The drosje literally dropped us off right at the end of the driveway of this little farm.  Actually, we were visiting long-lost relatives in an area that neither of us had ever been.  For some reason, we did not call in advance to warn our relatives that we were coming.  In fact, I believe we did not have a phone number, but merely a name and address.  I guess my dad decided that we would just take a gamble, go up there, and see what we could find.  We asked the taxi driver if he knew of anyone by the name of Tryggeset.  He said <Ja, Tryggeset, de bor der borte.  Jeg skal ta dere dit.>  Yes, Tryggeset, they live over there.  I will take you there.  And so he did.  Great, isn’t it?  Everyone in that town knew everyone else and this drosje driver had complete trust in total strangers, from America nonetheless.

Public transportation, as you can tell, is phenomenal.  The best part about public transportation in big cities is that you usually have to walk to get to the station.  Several of these walks a day add up and people end up walking quite a bit.  When I studied abroad in Norway, I lived north of Oslo, about a 1.5 hour walk.  The T-bane brought us from our apartment to the center of Oslo in 10 minutes.  However, it was a 10 minute walk from my apartment to the T-bane stasjon.  Then once I arrived to the city, I would walk to where I wanted to go.  That is the beauty of Oslo-pretty much everywhere you want to go in the city is within walking distance.  Otherwise, there are busser (busses).

Lots of us students that lived a good walk from the city would get our exercise on fredag (Friday) and lørdag (Saturday) nights because the bars and clubs did not close until 2 or 3 which is far later than the T-bane ran (it’s last route was around midnatt) and to get a drosje was extremely expensive.  So…..we walked.  Vi gikk.  If you do the math, you will figure out that we would arrive to our apartments around sunrise.  But we would have gotten great exercise and worked off any potential headache for the next morning.  It was great.

The last thing I will say about offentlig transport i Norge is that the facilities are well maintained.  The tog is extremely comfortable.  If I remember correctly, it is about an 7 hour ride from Oslo to Bergen and it is pure comfort, much more comfortable than a plane.  It is a fast, quiet, clean, and smooth ride.  Bussene (the busses) are also very clean and comfortable.  Drosjene are often Mercedes or BMWs, unlike in the U.S., where they are old beaters.  Whichever option you choose to transport yourself from place to place in Norway will be a pleasant experience.

Who else wishes that the United States had not destroyed our passenger railway system years ago?  I would love to be able to hop a tog from my house in Northfield 50 miles to Minneapolis.  People used to be able to do that 50 years ago until we all decided we wanted to drive our own automobiles, get lazy, and develop obesity problems as a consequence.

Cheers to Norwegians and their offentlig transportsystem!

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. Jam:

    The best explanation, thanks