The Espoo metro project is now up and running after long delays at double the original cost. Residents in Espoo who can now travel to Helsinki in the metro are not happy because travel times have increased.
Espoo is a region next to Helsinki that has rather sparsely populated with many small houses and small communities spread over a wide area.
Up until now, commuters were well-served by express buses going directly to Helsinki centre. Now buses transfer commuters from their home bus stops to the nearest metro station in a vast network of shorter journeys. Commuters must then make their way to the metro on long escalators and wait for the train to arrive. After that they have a long journey up the destination escalator.
The result is that travel times have increased by 15 to 30 minutes in a single direction, a significant increase in travel times.
Now one of the main newspapers here is blaming Espoo’s taxpayers for not objecting louder during the planning phase! This is an absurd statement that can only be treated with the contempt that it deserves.
Your correspondent was advising the public sector 10 years ago together with a well-known engineering advisory company during this same planning phase.
We proposed then, in a written document, that Espoo should build a wider and longer network of high speed trams and NOT an underground metro. This was angrily turned down by the officials involved in the discussion. They never gave us any rational reasons for their decision.
We made this proposal precisely because of low density housing in Espoo and because cost would be significantly lower without any major construction risks or timetable delays.
We were right on both points!