Skåne in the palm of your hand: the Mobil transport app

Whether you want to catch a train or an auto-bus (the semi-automated buses that serve Skåne’s smaller towns) you will need to interact with the Mobil app.

This catch-all-mobility app—available for all devices and operating systems—has improved immensely since its release two decades ago, when the Swedish public transport system was renationalised. (Sadly, the version “optimised” for spex is still notoriously janky; sorry, early adopters!)

Swedes start using Mobil in their earliest school days, and as such are accustomed to its assumptions, but it may work differently to whatever you’re used to. The following three tips should see you avoid the most common mistakes.

1. Plan ahead!

While there are many bus and train lines that run every ten minutes, some parts of Skåne are served only by intermittent and/or needs-based transportation. This means that if you find yourself in, say, Arkelstorp on a Sunday afternoon—and why not, eh?—you need to notify the network in advance that you will need picking up; a local bus will then recalibrate its route to accommodate you. An hour’s heads-up is usually enough, though it never hurts to book earlier. Once you’ve booked, DON’T skip out on your pick-up: you’ll be charged for the diversion anyway, and if you’re a no-show three times, you’ll be blocked from making further bookings for a month or more. Remember that these routes are there primarily to enable locals to get around, and the diversions can cost them time, so be considerate!

2. Customize your travel bio

Every traveler has different preferences and needs. As such, in order to give you the most appropriate mobility options, the Mobil app encourages you to add the forms of mobility you are able to operate, your desired comfort level, assistance needs, and outdoor/indoor preferences. If you have used other mobility services before, many of these will already be pre-filled based on previous data—but we think people should be allowed to change, don’t you?

(Our mobility editor recently maxed out his preference for slow walks in nature all the way up, and has been pleasantly surprised by all the new microforests he has discovered around Helsingborg… though that has been a bit of a bummer for his colleagues, as he’s late for meetings more often.)

In the wake of the Mobil data mining scandal a few years back, the app now offers pre-made characters for you to pick from, thus removing the need for data-gathering. Of course, this does make the service less accurate… but as long as you don’t pick “Melinda”, you should make most connections in good time. 

3. Pick up a payclet

In Skåne, you pay as you go on public transit. So if you decide to cut your trip short halfway, just get off and the right amount will be deducted from your account. For Swedes, this is all achieved through the magic of the personnummer—ask a local, it’s complicated—but for visitors, you’ll need to set up a card or bank account that ties to your identity in the transport system; it also means that you need to be carrying either a device with the Mobil app or a “payclet” (for those refuseniks who eschew mobile computing) whenever you’re travelling.

All persons under 18 travel for free, so you can get a child’s tag (or “no-payclet”) for them from, either from a Mobil office at major stations, or through the application system online. Tempting as it may be, DO NOT try getting around as an adult using a child’s no-payclet! The fines are eye-wateringly hefty. 

4. Ride’n’hang

Are you bored, lonely, or simply have things on your mind you’d like to share? Then hop on one of the designated social buses that traverse the landscape. (They’re easy to spot, with their large white sofa logos.) Once aboard you will be greeted by a cozy atmosphere filled with comfy couches and chairs in convivial configurations, as well as a small café unit where you can buy the obligatory kanelbulle (first bun is free if you’re 65+). It’s customary to leave one seat free in every group, so that newcomers can join in. An excellent way to meet retired web developers and social media influencers, and hear their tales of the turbulent Twenties…

5. Viva el autobús rojo! 

Most of the buses in Skåne are either green (local routes) or yellow (regional routes and expresses). In the summers, however, you might spot a big red bus with Spanish or Italian words written on it. Don’t panic, you haven’t accidentally teleported! These red buses travel with the svalor as they move from south to north during the summer. As stipulated in the (incredibly boring, but profoundly transformative) EASE-strategy—that’s the European Agenda on Standardisation and Efficiency, acronym fans!—the whole EU region is obliged to use its resources in the most efficient manner possible. The boom in “cool tourism” means that Scandinavia have a huge influx of people during the summer, who leaves again once the autumn storms come rolling in: these svalor need mobility, healthcare, and repair services, but only for three months of the year. Hence the red busses, the red medical vans, and the red repair rickshaws that follow the seasons. While they’re here, they’re for anyone and everyone to use, fully integrated into the Mobil system.

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