There is no shortage of breathtaking vistas from Billingen ridge.

Skövde has only 50.000 inhabitants, but is still the largest city of former Skaraborg state. It is also by far the biggest town to be encountered along the railway between the east and west coast. In spite of the small size Skövde has a lot to offer, not only in terms of transit. As a hub for the area between the two biggest lakes in Sweden, this is both a physical and mental crossroads.

A conglomeration of cultural institutions lies opposite the station.
Nobina 5880 in Skövde.
This is the overpass above the trunk railway. The view a little to the right outside the picture is rather impressing. If that is not enough - walk up to Skultorps Nabbe.

How to get there

There is no major road passing Skövde, except the reasonable closeness to E20. The natural choise of connection will be by train. Highspeed trains leave about once an hour from Stockholm and Göteborg, and takes around two hours and one hour respectively. Only a few trains will pass by without a stopover. There is also bihourly services with slower trains running partly along the same alignment. Some additional local services can be taken from Göteborg. Vättertåg ties the railway corridor to the northeast-southwest together with Skövde, and the trunkline coast to coast.

The regional bus terminal offers seamless interchange across the railway platform.

What they do for a living

The dominant workplaces are a garrison and Volvo plant. At first glance these two gives shape to the city. A major hospital is also a runner up, though situated on the outskirts. Trade in the form of a mushrooming proliferation of outlet stores is the most striking change in recent years. An educated (!) guess is that the university will get a boost in the coming years. Especially if it will recieve official status and branding as a "real" university, which is not the case yet. The present number of students is impressingly 8.000, and this in a city with a population only sixfold of that sum.

By the nationally reputed Kärnsjukhuset (Core or Kernel hospital).

The city

As a rule of thumb the residential areas are mostly placed on the north side of the railroad, while a lions share of the industry is to be found on the southern side. This also translates as higher and lower ground, depending on the geography. Arguably the highest ground is the ridge Billingen, topping at close to 1.000 feet. Unfortunately there is no regular bus schedule for this part of town.

Skislope and lift right outside hotel Billingehus.
Billingen skislope in Skövde.
The same skislope seen in winter, and from below.

The old downtown is based on a spquared grid pattern of streets, but is very limited in size. It is very obvious that most districts have been added during a more modern era, when an organic pattern in the layout of streets was the predominant fashion in planning. Skövde is in the middle of an area with a seemingly stalled or even contracting economic situation. Still this doesn't appear to affect the city proper all that much. New construction albeit of a modest scale is to be seen in a lot of locations.

Sandtorget (Sand square). Bus in older livery.

Skövde bus transit

First a map of the city services. This can be used as a reference for the continued reading. The map will be opened in a new window of your browser.

Swebus 7184 in Skövde.
Route 5 through Norrmalm, winter 2011.

What can we say about the buses? Well, there is a surprisingly frequent headway. Even more so, when taking into account the multitude of bus services available in specific areas. Swebus is the sole operator since a lot of years. This means that some buses from other cities have been added to the fleet now and then. For the time being a new batch of rear engine and low entrance Volvos, as well as Mercedes of a similar design, make up most of the services. For the lucky a few Scania Maxci can still be encountered.

Scania Maxci. The newest (not this) remain, but have a new livery.

Places to go in Skövde

The favourite line is number 1, followed by 3 or 4. If the time is limited, it may be wise to start in that order. Note that the eastern/south portion of service 4 partly run through an industrial area, but the terminus is situated in a rather agreeable setting.

From the fothills of Skultorps nabbe looking south.

Special highlights is the last three stops of line 1 in Skultorp, where the distant plains can be glimpsed between the houses. Kärnsjukhuset by the other end of the line 1 may be drab, but there is a sweet path in the woods from the northeast corner of the parking lot. Good for peeing if nothing else...If you want to get to Billingen, Stenvägen stop of line 4 is the closest (except for the so called Taxi 21, that has to be preordered in two hours advance on 020-919090).

Kärnsjukhuset a rainy day in late summer 2000.

The true enthusiast surely want to know where the busdepot is: Mariesjö stop of bus 4 is closest. You can also walk 10-12 minutes, first through the underpass just north of the station, and then keep left. It is unfortunately hard to see something of significance, depending on the awkward position of the lot, squeezed as it is between the railway, a dam, and other industries. The enterprising kind may even talk his way into the premises, though.

Skultorp on the soutern fringe of Skövde.

Beside the central station and Kärnsjukhuset, Ryds centrum definetely has a high position when it comes to photo ops. A swarm of buses sometimes negotiate the streets immediately to this densely built up project area. One must remember that it is not the same stigma to live in a project in Sweden as, say Americans, may think. However this looks somewhat derelict in places.

Västerhöjd towards saint Helens church.

Ticket system

The tourist passes had until recently a price structure centered on the state capital Göteborg. It took the utmost version called Regionen runt, in effect valid for the entire state of Västra Götaland, to also get as "far" as Skövde. You can still chose this option if it is desired to travel to both these places in the very same day, or at least three days. Also most rail services (not X2 class high speed trains) accept them, but remember to get the pass activated before boarding, as ticket machines may be missing.

Myggdansvägen in the northern part of town. In the older days an unlikely crowd of buses could terminate at the same time.

The passes are available as 24 and 72 hours. Those valid for the whole state come to a steep premium though, so steer clear of them, when only travelling in Skövde. So what You need now is the new 24 hour KOMMUN (community pass), valid for any one single area by choise, or the lesser TÄTORT (downtown pass). These both can be activated in a number of cities, but after that only be used within that community, or local bus system where it was first activated.

In spite of magnificent headways, som still drive to Kärnsjukhuset.

Either way You need a plastic "carrier" of the chosen ticket, that is the Västtrafik-kort. This is a smart-card in itself costing SEK 50 to purchase. Then it can be charged with passes, or just depositing travelling money at some 700 outlets. A certain rebate for each trip, is the carrot offered with the deposit option. Several people can share the same pass in that case. Alas it is a little bit tricky to obtain this, when handling the onboard electronic ticket validator. Though for one passenger within the city of Skövde, a slight touch is all it takes. Very convenient.

May it be that this local kind of bench, with its special shape, is hinting at the S in Skövde?

A far-away promise printed on the back of some of these smart-cards, is that it is interchangeable and useable for local transit in all 21 states of Sweden. Though I pesonally don't believe anymore that this will ever materialize. That was just some intent a decade back, when these cards first showed up. Not all states even have the same supplier of the ticket system. It is only the technology that is somewhat similar. Foremostly it takes political courage to negotiate a common standard. This will not happen in a nation where a crushing majority are going by car only. We must keep dreaming...

Skövde surroundings

Tibro: Brittgården by my favourite architect Ralph Erskine.

When you think you have seen it all in the city, there is a case for contemplating some outings. Tibro is known for its furniture industry. Along the same busline, Karlsborg is furthest away, though I haven't visited yet. Hjo is just marvellous and picturesque, placed precisely by the shores of lake Vättern.

Hjo by the oceanesque lake Vättern.
Downtown Tidaholm.

Tidaholm once had a busmaker, and holds a museum on the Vulcan island. Mariestad, former state capital, is located north of Skövde by Europes biggest lake Vänern. There is a worthwhile bus service running every halfhour from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., which isn't that bad.

Smalltown feeling in Mariestad.

Lidköping may be a little bit far away, but the good bus connections makes it convenient. There is four local bus services to explore. Rörstrand china producer may interest some people. Personally I look forward to the day this city will expand enough to permit the remaking of the stupendous grain elevators in the harbour to residential highrises.

Skara was a narrow gauge railway hub, byt only retains a heritage railway today. There is also an impressing cathedral downtown, an open air museum, aswell as the nearby Sommarland amusement park. Skara has two unfrequent local buses. This whole area is a backdrop to the fictional medieval age book series about Arn, written by one of Swedens greatest and most intrepid journalists Jan Guillo.

The 13th century Skara cathedral.

Vättertåg commuter trains will take you to Stenstorp, in the same direction as Skultorp, but further away. The next station is Falköping, a city in its own right, and home for a few local bus services. The medieval downtown is placed by the outskirts, just as it has been since centuries. This oddity depends on the building of the railway some two kilometers away, that attracted the exploitation to turn only that way for the time to come.

Skövde links

A small collection of other sites with information about Skövde, transportation, and accomodation. The destination window for these links is the same browser window. The new page will in other words replace the current site Busspojken.

Skövde, by the station.

Skövde city.

Skövde tourist information (bilingual)

Västtrafik statewide transit undertaker

Nobina (the transit undertaker)

Skaraborgs Allehanda (the local newspaper)

Private search register with information about buses

Swebus long distance buses

STF hostels, Swedish tourist association

Bike made of china.
Glass case with bike of china, seen at the east wing of the station building.

© Busspojken 2009-2011