Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Best Subways In the World

We have been out of town for several days inspecting BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. We apologize for the service disruption. Lots to catch up on.
While we get back in gear, we thought this was interesting.

Metro GM John Catoe was recently awarded "top public transportation manager" by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and while on an American grading curve, WMATA would probably be among the better mass transit systems, on a world scale, not so much.
World class is what we want!
Virgin Vacations ranked the best 11 subways in the world.
While they surely have your tourist money in mind, their list is pretty good. We've ridden on four of the top five, two of them as commuters, and we think they're far superior to DC, which is, by the way, also a Virgin town.
Surprising that the U.S. only has one on the list, and even it seems to only get a token nod from Virgin. The U.S. does slightly better on Environmental Graffiti's list.
Anyone else out there have experience on any of these subways? How would you compare them to Metro?
Here's Virgin's list:

1. London
2. Paris
3. Moscow
4. Madrid
5. Tokyo
6. Seoul
7. NYC
8. Montreal
9. Beijing
10. Hong Kong
11. Sao Paolo

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Ben said...

I've been on both Paris and Moscow, (although only as a tourist) and consider both well ahead of our Metro. They're both much better at getting you from point A to point B within the city, where I feel like our Metro is more geared towards commuters.
In Paris I was impressed by the efficiency in ticketing and switching systems (metro to RER).
In Moscow, it seems a bit outdated (or at least it did when I was there about 5 years ago) but some of the stations are works of art and there's almost never a wait longer than a minute or two for a train.

Anonymous said...

The Madrid subway is so densely packed. AMAZING!

Anonymous said...

I was recently in Moscow, and I'll echo Ben's comments. Its underground system is still pretty old and dilapidated, but it's very efficient -- trains ran regularly and got you where you needed to be. And many stations are just gorgeous... great works of art. Some are decorated like palaces, chandeliers and all, while others have great statues of historical significance.

It does give you a better appreciation of our DC commuters, though. Russians are /extremely/ pushy. You learn to push back too. (I once spent a commute leaning against a particularly tall man like he was a pole, after he refused to budge so I could hold onto something.) And there's no announcement of the doors closing. Once they start to close, get out of the way!

Also, it took me a few trips to understand the transfer system -- if you're trying to hop to a different color line, the station stop is given a different name, even if it's in the same physical location.

Craig said...

One thing that doesn't come up often in these transportation system assessments is how unfriendly a lot of these systems are to persons with disabilities.

While I love the Paris and Montréal subways, both are rife with stations that are only accessible by stairs.

For all of Metro's problems, it actually does a vastly better job serving persons with disabilities than many of these supposedly world-class systems.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised to see that Berlin and Munich, two cities where I have lived and still visit, did not make the list. Both have dense subway systems with frequent trains that take you most places you want to go, and both systems are run with stereotypical German efficiency. Those and many other German cities also do a great job of integrating their subways (U-Bahn) with their commuter rail lines (S-Bahn), so that the system works very well for short trips in town as well as for long commutes into the suburban areas. The Germans have an interesting "honor system" for fare collection - you have to buy a ticket or weekly pass, validate it in a machine the first time you use it, and keep it with you whenever you ride. But there are no fare gates, and the tickets are not routinely checked. Instead, they have random inspections by teams of plainclothes officers who stand up (when the train doors close and its too late to flee) and demand to see everyone's ticket. If you are caught without one, there is a very hefty fine (around $100 or so).

Anonymous said...

HK MTR >>>>> NY subway system

In HK, most transfer stations are designed as double-decker parallel lines -- the "most obvious" transfer is consequently right across the platform from you. Also, all underground trains have those glass barriers so that 1. people can't jump/fall/get pushed onto the tracks and 2. the air in the stations stays clean and air conditioned.

Anonymous said...

Of this list, I've ridden the the metro in London, Paris, Madrid, Montreal, and Hong Kong. I love the London metro, and I think the Paris system has a lot of character as well, but DC metro has got to be one of the cleanest that I've ever seen besides Hong Kong. Also, DC has one of the only metro systems that has carpet in their cars.

Mexico City should definitely be on this list. The trains in Mexico City go everywhere, and you rarely have to wait more than 5 minutes. Also, it's very entertaining to see the locals selling candy, cds, videos, etc on the trains.

Anonymous said...

Cry babies. If you don't like it, don't use it.

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