Sunday, May 19, 2013

Copenhagen Transit: The Metro, the S-train, and Movia

Copenhagen’s transit system consists of two major components: the S-train, which serves the greater Copenhagen metropolitan region, and the Metro, which provides greater connectivity within the city center and to the Copenhagen airport.

Since the original line of the S-train opened in 1934, the S-train system has added 7 more lines with a total of 85 stations serving over 350,000 riders daily. The S-train system serves as the anchor to Copenhagen’s public transit system, with over 170 km of dual track rapid transit rail connecting Copenhagen’s suburbs to the city center. The path of the S-train lines, which make a hand shaped figure (see picture below), is also the basis for Copenhagen’s “five finger” development plan, which hopes to spur future development around these existing lines. 

Supplementing the S-train lines is Copenhagen’s newer rail system, the driverless rapid transit system called Metro. The Metro opened in 2002 and currently has two lines that serve the inner city, providing for faster travel within the city and also connecting the city center to the airport. The development of Metro was also largely due to the need for a transit system to serve the new Orestad development mentioned in one of my earlier posts. By 2018, a third metro line that will create a “metro loop” of the city center by connecting to the other 2 lines is set to open. Although it may seem odd that such a progressive transportation city did not have an inner city transit system until 2002, this was largely due to the walking and biking investments the city was focused on. With more and more residents switching from cars to active transportation, the city did not have much of a need to expand its transit system (given its already extensive transit system serving outer areas). That is, until they reached a point where active transportation growth was starting to slow down and car commuting was still the norm for a fourth of the city’s population.

Both the S-train and Metro run underground in the city center, providing minimal interruption with other modes of transit. This also allows for much more direct and efficient transit routes, providing shorter travel times and an incentive to switch from automotive transportation to public transit.

In addition to these two rapid transit systems, Copenhagen also has a larger rail network that connects different regions of Denmark, as well as a bus network that serves the city of Copenhagen as well as the surrounding region. The bus network, called Movia, started in 2007 and is a public transit agency that does not own any buses itself. Instead, Movia pays subcontractors to run buses on its established routes. This allows for greater flexibility of the transit system and easier expansion given the low capitol cost for the agency. 

Edited by Matt Berggren 


  1. What were some of the biggest investments they made in pedestrian infrastructure that you think coaxed citizens out of their cars?

  2. Copenhagen has continually invested in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure including the creation of dedicated right of ways, improved crossings, and more direct routes than what is available for driving. Some of the older Copenhagen posts Matt and I have done on this blog highlight the different active transportation initiatives and investments Copenhagen has instituted. Feel free to take a look if you are interested!


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