Fewer bus connections make it more difficult to get to and from AU’s Campus Viborg

While Aarhus University is working to establish a new campus in Foulum, just outside Viborg, Midttrafik has re-routed and discontinued bus services in the area, which has made it more difficult for PhD students and other employees to get to and from Foulum. Mayor of Viborg Ulrik Wilbek (Danish Liberal Party) is looking into the matter in order to ensure a better bus connection to and from Foulum – initially for the summer period.

It’s not as easy to take the bus to and from work at AU Foulum now that Midttrafik has changed both timetables and routes for bus services to the campus. Photo: Colourbox
Ulrik Wilbek (Danish Liberal Party) is mayor of Viborg Municipality and has got involved in the case in order to ensure a better bus connection between Viborg and AU Foulum. Photo: Flemming Jeppesen, Fokus

Several PhD students at Aarhus University’s department in Foulum have recently had to consult Rejseplanen to find out the best way to get to work on time. This is because bus line 750, which many of them use, is actually a school bus and doesn’t operate during the school summer holidays – which started on Monday. In addition to this, Midttrafik has re-routed many of the bus services in the region, and this has affected the other two bus lines that pass AU in Foulum, namely line 928X and line 62. There are now fewer bus departures on this stretch.

One of the people who suddenly had to adjust to the new bus timetable is Jiajia Xu, PhD student at the Department of Animal Science at AU in Foulum.

“I usually take bus line 750, but the bus driver didn’t say anything about the bus not operating during the summer holiday. When I looked at Rejseplanen to see which other bus I could take instead, I realised that bus line 62 had also been changed. It normally takes me around 20 minutes to get to Foulum from my house just outside Viborg with the 750 bus. But, according to Rejseplanen, it would now take around an hour, because I had to get another bus into town before I could hop on the 62,” she explains.

To be specific, the overhaul of the bus services in the region means that bus line 928X has been discontinued and some of its departures have been transferred to bus line 62 – but not all. There used to be 12 bus departures/arrivals from Viborg to Foulum every day, but, from now on, there will only be 5. And the number of departurens/arrivals from Randers will drop from 10 to 6. It is mainly the departures in the late morning and early afternoon that have been cancelled – times of the day when, according to Midttrafik, not many people were using the bus service.

Jiajia Xu canvassed opinion among her colleagues and discovered that she is far from the only person affected by these changes to the bus routes.

“It is making it difficult for lots of people. Many of the PhD students live in the student halls in Nørresø, which is between Viborg and Foulum, but the bus no longer stops there. So they have to travel into Viborg only to get on a bus at the main bus station and travel back out to Foulum.”

Also, because there are now fewer departures, it can be very inconvenient if you miss the bus.

“It’s really difficult now that there are so few bus departures, and if you don’t get on a bus that stops at AU Foulum, you need to walk 1.9 kilometres along a country lane from the nearest bus stop, which takes 20 minutes.”  

“It’s really difficult now that there are so few bus departures, and if you don’t get on a bus that stops at AU Foulum, you need to walk 1.9 kilometres along the road from the nearest bus stop, which takes 20 minutes.”  

Mayor looking into the matter

However, it is not only AU employees in Foulum who have had sleepless nights over Midttrafik’s changes to the bus timetable. The mayor of Viborg, Ulrik Wilbek (Danish Liberal Party), also thinks the bus connection between Viborg and AU Foulum could be improved. Viborg Municipality is working with Aarhus University to develop the new campus in Foulum, which will be the place of study for up to 900 students within a few years. Students on the veterinary medicine programme will arrive on campus as early as September 2023.

In this connection, Viborg Municipality has committed itself to providing enough student housing, good public transport connections and a student community in the city. It will therefore now look into the case in order to ensure better bus connections between Viborg and Foulum.

“In the short term, we will concentrate on putting some flex-transport in place between Foulum and Viborg to ensure that PhD students can get to and from Foulum over the summer period. In the longer term, we will enter into dialogue with Midttrafik about how we can restore the timetables. The number of students living in Viborg is set to double over the next few years, which will provide a different basis for offering bus transport,” says Ulrik Wilbek.

Ulrik Wilbek goes on to explain that the municipality is exploring alternative transport options for students who, from next year, will need to get to and from AU’s new campus near Viborg.

“Nothing has been agreed yet, but it could be the case that, as well as being offered housing in the area, students are also offered the opportunity to take part in a shared car scheme, whereby four students drive to and from campus together in an electric car. We are also looking into the option of providing electric bikes,” says Ulrik Wilbek.   

When asked what he believes is the optimal solution to the public transport problem, he answers:

“It would of course be optimal if people could travel to and from campus whenever they needed to.”

“It would of course be optimal if people could travel to and from campus whenever they needed to.”

Temporary summer timetable for bus line 750

After several PhD students and other employees at AU Foulum contacted Midttrafik to tell them that changes to the bus routes and timetables were making their journeys difficult – and, more recently, after Viborg Municipality got involved in the case – Midttrafik has introduced a temporary summer timetable for bus line 750, which operates twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.

For Jiajia Xu, this temporary solution makes a big difference.

“I am pleased that Viborg Municipality has addressed the issue so quickly. But I still hope that the timetable and route for bus line 62 will be improved,” she says.

Midttrafik: We will monitor the new routes closely

In an email to Omnibus, Poul Masud, who is responsible for route planning at Midttrafik, confirms that the temporary summer timetable was introduced at the request of Viborg Municipality. He also explains that the reason for re-routing many bus services in the area was to create a “simpler and more standardised structure” in the service between Randers and Viborg, and that re-routing decisions had been based on passenger numbers.

“On this basis, we wanted to provided a targeted service in the morning and afternoon, when the demand is greatest. We scheduled the bus arrival and departure times at AU Foulum based on dialogues with employees at the campus and Midttrafik’s passenger figures, in order to ensure we provided a bus service when the need was greatest.

Poul Masud also writes that Midttrafik will closely monitor the launch of the new routes and will assess any inconveniences on an ongoing basis in collaboration with Central Denmark Region.

“The extent to which the bus service to AU Foulum should be scaled up in line with the expansion of degree programmes in AU Foulum will be agreed in dialogue with Viborg Municipality and Central Denmark Region,” he writes.

Translated by Sarah Jennings