Reviews of Public Transportation

Sydney Monorail:
Cost: $5AUD

I was in Sydney on business recently, which is just the most amazing and douchiest sentence I’ve ever written. But I was, and on my first night I had plans to get drinks with the friend of a friend. I left the event venue (where they held boxing at the Olympics! God, I love the Olympics) a responsible amount of early, with Google Maps’ assurance that all I needed to do was take the monorail one stop. I was willing to pay the unreasonable price of $5 for this because it was worth that much to me not to be lost in a foreign country at night. Come to think of it, that’s probably the business model for all overpriced transit aimed mainly at tourists.

But even though the stop was ostensibly mere yards from me, I could not find it. And the five Australians I asked didn’t know where it was either. Here’s a tip, Sydney Monorail: If your intended passengers can’t find you, you’re doing something wrong. I took a cab to the bar.

The next day, my new friend helped me uncover the Monorail’s hiding place, and we took it downtown from the harbor. I guess I have to give it one star for actually getting me to where I was going , but it’s slow and expensive and dumb and it only has seven stops and I hate it. It’s better to walk everywhere, give yourself a mild case of tendonitis and soak up the beauty.

 


Washington, D.C. Metro: ★★★
Cost: $1.70-$5.75

My time with the Metro was merely a brief fling, our interactions superficial enough that I can look back on it as a pleasant, if not particularly profound experience. The stations themselves were the cleanest I’ve seen, the cars are roomy and it seems to run pretty regularly.

Deductions come for having tickets that you have to scan both to enter and leave the station, which is annoying, and for the doors, which shut with a frightening velocity that could definitely cost someone an arm or a leg. And who puts carpet on a subway? You know someone’s just going to vomit on it.

 


Berlin S-Bahn: ★★★★
Cost: €2.30-€3

Four stars for danger! The price is a little steep (especially for visiting Americans and their weak, weak dollars), but there are no turnstiles or ticket-takers on the S-Bahn—only the honor system, which can result in significant savings if you are bold and not honorable. The fine is pretty steep if you get caught, or so I have heard, because I never saw anyone checking tickets the whole time I was there.

Also, I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I find trains very … calming? Meditative? Especially if you’ve got some foliage, or countryside, or some shit out the window. Anyway, I had a super-zen moment on the S-Bahn coming back to the city from Olympic Stadium when I may have achieved total, if fleeting, serenity. So, that doesn’t hurt.

 


New York City Subway: ★★
Cost: $2.25

I had higher hopes for the subway. The all-too-frequent delays and inexplicable service stoppages on the weekends are one thing, but one can only wait 45 minutes for a train at 2 a.m. and hear the distant rumblings of salvation only to be disappointed by a garbage train so many times before one begins to feel a little broken. I’m fairly certain I spent more money on late night taxis the few months I lived in New York than I have in five years in Chicago, because after a few garbage trains, it seems like the options are either to fork out for a cab, or spend the night sleeping underground with the rats.

I really like the express lines, though.

 


Paris Métro: ★★★★★
Cost: € 1.70

Le Métro, le roi. It would be easy to conflate my fondness for the Métro with my fondness for its city. Just thinking of it brings back memories of analyzing the hierarchical social structure of groups of young French hoodlums who sat one car down, or the homeless man with a tuft of toadstool-shaped hair who was always, without fail, asleep on a bench at the Champs-Elysées Clemenceau stop. We called him “Ole Mushroom Head,” because we were unkind.

Of course, there were also loud accordion players and couples grabbing ass entwined around the standing metal poles, which you could chalk up to a certain Parisian charm if you were only in town for a quick visit, but after a month or so, it begins to grate. And Châtelet, the world’s largest subway station, is an absolute nightmare for anyone with even the slightest touch of claustrophobia.

But when it comes to accessibility and reliability, I have never known its equal. If you are a drunk tourist lost in the city late at night, all you need to do is point your stumbling feet in any direction and walk for 10 minutes, and I guarantee you will find a Métro station. I don’t know of any other city where you can say that.

 


Chicago El: ★★★
Cost: $2.25

The romance is gone between the El and me. In the five years that I’ve been taking it, I’ve seen it at its worst: broken down, smoking, covered in urine. I place my trust in it daily, and while it usually comes through, every now and then it leaves me abandoned on an outside platform in the winter without so much as an apology. It’s my constant companion, but sometimes, the closeness is suffocating. Especially during rush hour.

But it does its best, you know? It’s slow, but it’s steady. It’s got a good view at sunset, and no shortage of entertaining weirdos that ride it. And at the end of the night, it’s still the one taking me home.

 

Julie Beck rides the blue line.

Photos: Albert OG, Mulad, Marcin Wichary, Bindonlane, LWY, John Picken

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98 Comments / Post A Comment

emilies (#956)

What the subway lacks in cleanliness, urine-free-ness and intelligible announcements, it makes up for in being one of the few subways system to run 24 hours. Yes, the garbage trains are THE WORST, but at least you know a train will come eventually. I can’t speak for Berlin, but I know in Chicago only the Blue (and maybe Red?) line runs all night, and Paris shuts down on the early side, no? I can’t imagine DC’s train runs all night either.

Also, wouldn’t riding a garbage train once be kind of awesome?

cryptolect (#1,135)

@emilies Yeah, Berlin shuts down at night (don’t know what time), and the Métro (in both Paris and DC) stops running a little after midnight. When I was living in Paris, that was the moment of truth for me: go home now, or stay out till it starts running again?

bgprincipessa (#699)

I can attest that yes, people do throw up on the carpets in the DC Metro, and yes, it’s quite gross. Thank you, Shamrockfest. (No, I was not the one puking.)

bgprincipessa (#699)

My contribution:
Rome Metro
* * * (3 stars)
Reliable at most times, and runs good hours. However, there are only 2 lines, with the forever promise of a third “coming soon.” (Too much underground infrastructure that’s historical and needs to be preserved, it’ll never happen.) But it got me where I needed without too much frustration bar the frequent gypsies and their children singing their life stories to me for pity.

@bgprincipessa I would give the toronto TTC the same rating for the same reasons. except our “coming soon” lines will never happen due to too much political finangling. at least rome has a good excuse!

faience (#1,874)

@redheaded&crazy The TTC doesnt traverse enough of the city for my tastes and I havent ever really mastered the trolleys (Ive only lived outside of TO) so I end up walking a lot more than I always intend. They should expand it to at least the airport but the rest seems like a waste of money especially in jeopardizing the aboveground options. I do love Montreal’s Metro though. Easy to understand and it travels much of the city. Plus is reminds me of the MBTA at home in Boston. Oh nostalgia.

@faience yes the TTC does need to cover more ground. they are in the process of making a line out to the airport but something tells me that one’s gonna take a while to finish.

I think I prefer the montreal metro. My main problem with it though is how poorly ventilated it is, so that it’s always scorching hot in the stations.

This is terrible in the summer (ie last weekend at Osheaga when 120,000 sweaty hipsters surged through the system) but I think it’s actually more terrible in the winter when you dress for -30 and then have to take everything off once you get into the subway so you don’t swelter to death.

sidenote: I definitely prefer Montreal’s fare system. It is so superior. I rave about it all the time. Toronto’s fare system is bullshit.

jacqueline (#653)

TTC: NO STARS EVER

@jacqueline aw I don’t think it’s the worst! although I ranted about it a little downthread.

jacqueline (#653)

@redheaded&crazy It’s definitely tolerable at certain times of day, but I like to get disproportionately angry based on my rush hour commute alone.

Okay, I’ll amend it: certain routes at certain times of day: NO STARS EVER.

jfruh (#161)

You may be interested and gratified to know that they’re shutting down the Sydney Monorail next year due to general uselessness, with vague plans to expand the current one-line light rail in its place.

thejacqueline (#799)

@jfruh yeah…this wasn’t the most apt comparison, as the monorail is not what most people in Sydney actually use for public transportation.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@jfruh
It’s great but also depressing. That thing cost over $1billion to build in the first place.

OK, if I have to be the one to say it, I will: Three stars for DC metro? No effing way. Let me just type “late” and “metro” into my Outlook search box… hm, only 43 results? Feels like there should be more…

@stuffisthings doesn’t this go in the pros column? “oh shit, i woke up la– i mean, the subway is running late! yeah yep dear boss, …”

bgprincipessa (#699)

@stuffisthings Hm, this is a fun game. “late” and “bus” got me 68 results. And I’ve only been taking the bus for 4 months now so yup, that sounds about right.

@redheaded&crazy Yeah except usually when I wake up late the metro is ALSO running 15 minute headways during rush hour/offloaded/having signal problems outside Ft. Totten/single tracking/shutdown due to a computer glitch/on fire

@stuffisthings also i have had to walk long distances because the subway was so behind/overcrowded so flippant work ethic aside, i suppose it’s really not a pro.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@stuffisthings Yeah it’s a 2 star system. They keep asking us to pay more and more for less and less. It was mad swank like 10 years ago, when it was half the price, the elevators were functional, and it seemed to serve all the right places, but not now. Now the Metro’s entire job is to not get people anywhere on time and to charge them an arm and a leg for the privilege. And yeah . . . carpet? Escalators? Who the fuck thought this shit was a good idea?

I took Alex’s advice and bought a bike.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@redheaded&crazy This tends to happen to me on the weekends. I swear to Cheesus that WMATA has a contractual obligation to leave me stranded on a platform every weekend for at least an hour.

@MuffyStJohn When single-tracking leaves me waiting for 45 minutes on weekends, I like to tally up the money that I WOULD have spent in DC if not for the WMATA. I really don’t get why city politicians can’t make the connection between Metro and economic development when overpriced cardboard rowhouses are springing up around every single Metro stop. If things continue the way they are, people will eventually get wise that it doesn’t make sense to spend $2,500 a month to live right next to the Red Line.

highjump (#39)

@MuffyStJohn YES. More and more for less and less. I go through Metro center 1-2 mornings a week and there is a pane of glass on one of the escalators that is all shattered and spiderweb-y and just barely still in the frame. It is going to explode on people at the worst time causing many an injury like that piece of unsecured metal last week!

Also Rush+ is the biggest clusterfuck.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@highjump I have heard absolutely nothing good about Rush+. In fact, several of my colleagues have been chronically late ever since that program was implemented, thanks to the epic delays it causes. Lipstick on a pig, that whole plan.

Here are my rankings:
DC: **
Cairo: **
Montreal: *** (functional, got me where I needed to go)
Brussels: *** (ditto)
Budapest: ***1/2 (ditto, but bonus 1/2 * for circus-style chimes)
London: ***1/2 (extensive but pricey, hot)
Paris: **** (minus 1 * for assholes)
Prague: **** (night trams!)
Berlin: ***** (A++, would ride again forever)

@stuffisthings Also:
Number of times I’ve taken a trip on DC metro where all the escalators were working: 0
Number of non-working escalators I’ve ever seen in Paris: 0 (including the Jetsons-style moving walkways in CDG)

@stuffisthings And apparently it takes EIGHT MONTHS to fix the escalator at Dupont Circle? And there is not the option of stairs, so an entire entrance of a major station smack in the middle of the city has to be closed for nearly a year?

@mirror_father_mirror Dupont has been closed outright during rush hour probably three or four times in the last month, too.

It’s surprising because Metro usually lives by Mitch Hedberg’s observation that “escalators don’t break, they just become stairs.”

highjump (#39)

@stuffisthings Prague does have a nice metro (and tram system), I almost forgot about them. For public works, you can’t beat the Soviets. Helsinki and Krakow don’t have metros, but they both have well run, cheap trams.

emilies (#956)

@highjump but also the most aggressive conductors/ticket checkers I’ve ever encountered.

highjump (#39)

@emilies True, but I appreciate their commitment to the rule of law.

navigateher (#555)

@highjump We do actually have metro in Helsinki, although it’s more of a curiosity than an actual metro system. Only two lines currently (the third one is being built). It’s not really useful in the city centre because of short distances (also, tram), but I hear it’s irreplaceable if you happen to live in the more distant parts of the city it actually goes to.

highjump (#39)

@navigateher How wonderful! Finland thinks of everything. I don’t know what reason I would ever have to go to the Helsinki suburbs though. Unless we’re talking about Suomenlinna (which probably doesn’t even count) in which case I would take the ferry of course.

navigateher (#555)

@highjump It took Helsinki 27 years to actually build this weird, two-line sad excuse for a metro. When you think about it, that’s actually an achievement in itself, and also a great advertisement of the “Scandinavian efficiency” thing. And you’re right, there’s absolutely no reason to go to any of the places along the metro lines, but we do get to bask in that metropolitan feeling it gives us.

psychedelicate (#1,889)

@navigateher Finland isn’t Scandinavia.

navigateher (#555)

@psychedelicate I’m not sure what you’re saying. I think we can all agree that Finaland isn’t Scandinavia, and also Finland isn’t IN Scandinavia, to be exact. It’s just that more often than not people see it as being part of the “Scandinavian countries”, but if that bothers you, let’s just call it “Nordic effieciency” and the Nordic countries.

 
bgprincipessa (#699)

@redheaded&crazy You changed your picture and thoroughly confused me.

@bgprincipessa hah! i thought this one would be a little more aspirational for a finance website.

whizz_dumb (#151)

@redheaded&crazy I have no rhyme or reason other than mixing it up.

My problem with the DC metro is that it does not actually go anywhere I want to go. I started biking as my primary form of transportation after moving to D.C., after working, and then going to school, at two very vibrant, populous ends of the city that did not have a metro stop for miles. The system seems to be built to transport people from the suburbs to downtown and Capitol Hill, and if you are not making that specific trip, you are out of luck.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@mirror_father_mirror The same problem with Baltimore, except worse. There are really only about 4 stops that are in the “downtown”-ish area and the rest is pretty much suburb/outskirts. It only works for bringing people in/out of the city and only then if you are lucky to be close to a stop (rare). http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/01glance/html/bmetro.html

There’s also the LightRail, which is … about the same, but with more stops.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@mirror_father_mirror You are absolutely 100% correct about this, and I’m glad to hear someone else got fed up and just started biking! The sad thing is they’re hiking up fares just to maintain the current system; you know they will never be able to afford an expansion at this rate.

@bgprincipessa The Baltimore rail is one of the most abysmal mass transit operations I’ve ever seen (second only to the Baltimore bus system – I still wish they’d make every member of the Mayor’s cabinet rely on that shit for a month and see how they feel about it after). But hey, you’re getting the Red Line! That’ll be . . . neat.

@mirror_father_mirror Let me guess, you lived on H Street and went to Georgetown?

Georgetown doesn’t WANT a metro because it would let the proles in; and H street has a fully completed streetcar line that they can’t get running because of weird DC politics/NIMBYs who won’t let them build their car barn.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@stuffisthings The awesome streetcar that is going to end NEAR Union Station and just dump folks in a parking lot because they started building before getting an OK from Amtrak for a direct Metro connection? That whole project is full of win.

@stuffisthings You are a good guesser! I worked on H Street and went to Georgetown, and live pretty much smack in the middle. And I’m aware of the politics involved in keeping both neighborhoods inaccessible, but it doesn’t make it any less irritating.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@MuffyStJohn I love this idea of yours. AND AUGHAGUAO THE RED LINE. What is that! Who is going to use that! Who goes to those places? Nobody. Sigh. I use the MTA buses sparingly, but mostly rely on the CCC which… I guess is marginally better. Even if it says it has 10-minute headways, which actually average out to 15-18, which in reality means 35.

@MuffyStJohn Well, you know, Amtrak has that SEVEN BILLION DOLLAR Union Station revitalization plan that’s totally going to happen, let’s just wait for that. (Actually I just read on Wikipedia that the Dowtown BID is going to kick in some serious money to connect to a K-street line, which is probably the only way that’ll get done.)

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@bgprincipessa Dude CCC is like A WORLD AHEAD of the B’more bus system. I have never had a CCC just not show up. Or just not stop. The fact that it functions so much better as a free service than the one people pay for just blows my mind. Then again, the CCC only takes people from moneyed places to moneyed places, and the MTA has to deal with the whole burden of shuffling poor people from where they live to where the jobs and amenities are, so maybe that’s why it sucks so much more.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@stuffisthings Let me commence holding my breath for this huge station revitalization.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@MuffyStJohn Right, that’s exactly what it’s for – it’s located in the affluent communities and takes you to big tourist areas. Which is great for me. And you are right – at least it SHOWS UP eventually. So I try not to complain too much. And it’s free, so BIIIG points there. But they do change routes sometimes without notice or posting, and I have many a time witnessed people sprint down streets to where the “new” stop is temporarily located.

jfruh (#161)

@bgprincipessa The same problem with Baltimore, except worse. There are really only about 4 stops that are in the “downtown”-ish area and the rest is pretty much suburb/outskirts

Sorry to be a dick, but this is not actually true? There are four stops downtown-ish and then there are a whole series of stops through Northwest Baltimore. Which is overwhelmingly African-American and working class/poor, but it’s not “suburb/outskirts.” The Metro is fairly well used, just not by people who read this site maybe. (I include myself in this number, I rarely ride the Metro, but it’s always reasonably crowded when I do.)

I live carless in Baltimore and definitely won’t defend the quality of its public transit generally, though. The Light Rail is very sad. It goes *near* places where a lot of people live but not actually *to* them, because it was built along disused rail right of way, so it’s very underused. The subway we have was supposed to be the first of a six-line system, but federal transit funding dried up in the early ’80s and that’s all we got. Buses are spotty outside the main corridors. Not sure why you think the Red Line would be a bad idea, as it would go to Fells Point and Canton at one end (one of the most densely populated and most parking constrained parts of the city) to downtown to West Baltimore and then on to the Social Security administration, where, you know, tens of thousands of people live and work.

My main Red Line complaint is that they’ll inevitably make the transfers to the light rail and subway inconvenient, so we’ll have three rail lines that don’t really make a complete network instead of just two. (Also, it probably won’t be built because the Feds will never come up with the money.)

ElBlynx (#499)

I am disappointed you didn’t get the opportunity to award negative stars for San Francisco/Bay Area public transportation. Thank goodness for the google map public transportation direction app because going most places involves buses, trams, subway, walking, suddenly switching plans when something breaks down. One day I took public transport from Northwest SF to Central Marin and barely lived to tell the tale. So for me Boston, New York, Berlin, Prague, Paris, etc… are transportation utopias.

Marissa (#467)

@ElBlynx Muni Metro is the worst. WORST.

@ElBlynx Getting to and from San Francisco from the North Bay is an undisputed nightmare, and BART is certainly a far cry from the much cheaper and more extensive subways of other US metropolis, but having actually lived most of my life in the North Bay, I tend to just get excited at the fact that the Muni even exists and can sometimes take me places around the city. The soft resignation of low expectations.

highjump (#39)

Anyone ridden the metro in Russia? Both St. Petersburg and Moscow have the most beautiful clean stations I have ever been in. Trains don’t run all night sadly (which must be when they scrub all of that gold and marble to gleaming!) but it has always been on time, cheap, with a smooth ride, fast working escalators, good signs that tell you where to transfer, and it stops at almost all the places you actually want to go.

Moscow and St. Petersburg ****** Six Stars!

sony_b (#225)

@highjump YES. I just popped in to say that. Moscow is spectacular in every possible way. I even enjoy the women who grump at you for turning around on the escalator.

highjump (#39)

@sony_b Also, Moscow has the most beautiful metro map in the world.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@highjump I couldn’t resist.. You’re right! It’s so well thought out! That’s a bonus. http://www.go-to.ru/en/support/img/mmap.gif

Megano! (#124)

@highjump If it’s easy enough to use that dogs can do it, I figure it’s got to be pretty good. (http://englishrussia.com/2009/04/07/smartest-dogs-moscow-stray-dogs/)

psychedelicate (#1,889)

@highjump I live in SPb! Yes, it is extremely cheap–they just raised the price to just under a dollar. Also fast and clean. The trains come every two minutes and there is a clock that tells you when the last train came. NYC subway stations are dirty, dark caves full of rats. SPb subway stations are full of marble. And we have the deepest metro station in the world!

Cons: closes at 12:30, but they just introduced night buses that go along the metro lines.

Rush hour is HELL. I will walk MILES to not take the metro at rush hour. Jam packed tight full of people, and let’s not forget that deodorant is not something that the middle-aged population uses.

If you go outside of the center, you will often need to take a bus from the metro to get to where you need to go.

You’re giving Paris way too much credit. Yes, there are lots of stops which is great but that’s mostly because Paris is small (area-wise) and refuses to expand to accomodate its growing population. Also it smells perpetually of urine and vomit and most lines are a joke during rush hour. Even in London and Chicago I don’t recall ever having to push people with my hands in order to get on the train when it was busy. All of these things are easy to ignore if you’re a tourist or a student or someone without a normal schedule, but Paris is a terrible place to live if you have a regular 9-5 (for more reasons than just the metro.)

Except the line 14, the line 14 is dreamy.

Megano! (#124)

Best subway system I have ever used is Tokyo, but I feel like that is a pretty obvious answer.
Also I doubt there is any subway worse than Toronto’s (at least in a 1st world country), which is easily 40 years behind in terms of keeping up with population growth. There isn’t even a train from the airport (they literally only just started building it this year)!

@Megano! ugh the solutions to toronto’s problems seem so simple to me (of course they do)
1. toll the highways – put half the revenue toward highway construction/maintenance and half toward subway construction/maintenance
2. integrate GTA transit with Toronto a la Montreal
3. agree on any plan. it barely even matters at this point whether you go streetcars or subways or some streetcars some subways (probably the best option). i mean, of course it does matter. but what is more important is agreeing on god. damn. ANYTHING

so yeah fucking toronto politics, we will never have a comprehensive subway system.

Megano! (#124)

@redheaded&crazy I know right? IT DOES NOT MATTER IF IT IS LIGHT RAIL OR SUBWAY OR WHATEVER, JUST AS LONG AS YOU CAN GET EVERYWHERE QUICKLY

sea ermine (#122)

I think out of all the cities I’ve lived in the skytrain in Bangkok and the U-Bahn in Frankfurt have been the best. Also, I really do love the honor system that Germany has for their public transportation.

petejayhawk (#674)

Addison Brown Line stop?

Morbo (#1,236)

@petejayhawk *** One of the less scenic stops on the Brown Line, with the Metra overpass and Lincoln Ave. crossing, though the skyline view is nice.

Now Rockwell, that there is a nice el stop.

@Morbo I live right by the Berwyn red line stop which actually can be a really lovely stop to look at from the street.

Morbo (#1,236)

@Claire Zulkey@twitter

Give this thread some time, and every Chicago resident will get provincial about their station. Well, except for those that live by Morse. Everyone hates godforsaken Morse.

Agreed on Berwyn. Cute little neighborhood. Also, a lot of under-rated places to eat along that stretch of Broadway.

whizz_dumb (#151)

@Morbo I lived a half block from Morse for two years. What a dump, and now there’s construction and shit so I had to walk to Loyola from my sister’s place, who stayed in the ‘hood. That said, the El is superior to BART in the Bay Area (now home) because it runs after fucking midnight. Oh and BART has gross spongy cushions than absorb and trap every disgusting thing you can imagine a stranger leaving behind (although I hear there’s new seats coming). Another comparison: The El’s old clunky noises is BART’s ghostly howl.

petejayhawk (#674)

@Morbo Yeah, Rockwell is the best. I love the level crossing, with the little Rockwell Crossing block next to. As close to “quaint” as you’re going to find in urban public transit.

I was actually wondering about the picture, and I thought it was Addison Brown Line, but upon review it appears to be Addison Red Line?

In any case, I’m down the block from Western Brown Line, which is pretty mediocre. And yeah, the Edgewater/Rogers Park Red Line stops are the worst.

@petejayhawk I think it’s Armitage. Addison is the Wrigley stop – and my stop! – and its platform is in the middle. Guessing from the track width and my vague recollection that there’s an Aldo in Lincoln Park, I think it’s Armitage.

Down the block from Western means you live in Lincoln Square, which can be a fun area! I used to live near the Irving Park Brown Line stop and would go up there a lot. But I agree the Western stop is mediocre.

I never understood the hatred for the northern Red Line stops until I took the train up to Andersonville a few weeks ago for the first time. Holy Jesus those stations are gross! I guess they’re trying to find money to fix them though?

When I was first in Berlin riding the S-Bahn I noticed that the windows have little stickers with an ideogram of a crossed-out bottle on them. When I asked the local girl I was hanging out with “oh, does that mean no drinking on the train” she said “no, you can drink on the train — they just don’t want you to throw your bottles out the window.” And that was the moment I fell in love with the S-Bahn.

Yeah, the El is what it is. I never relish post-game crushes nor the interminable wait to transfer at Howard but it also can be romantic and comforting when there’s not a crazy guy screaming in your ear or a disgusting guy pressing his boner into your butt.

/red line

navigateher (#555)

I can’t believe no one mentioned Madrid! One of the best public transportation system in Europe, if you ask me. The metro has a lot of stops, and it’s also air conditioned, clean, efficient and affordable!

@navigateher Barcelona’s pretty good, too.

Tam (#1,881)

I’ll add the Mexico City metro
*** + 1/2
Super cheap (23 usd cents per ride)
Mostly reliable
Never had a safety problem, though I’ve only used it on vacations as opposed to every day
Stupidly full of people, though

Tam (#1,881)

@Tam Oh, and also the San Diego trolley.
It only runs on the bay but it’s always clean, on time, and fairly big.

@Tam I’ve ridden the Mexico City metro a few times and was impressed, mostly by its extreme cheapness, but also by the fact that I got separated from my compañeras at the Basilica of Guadalupe and managed to take the metro back across the city to our hostel by myself with no problems. I did get on at the Zocalo one time and relearn the meaning of “crowded,” though.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@beatricks@twitter there was the one time i was groped on the subway there. other than that, many stars. but I avoid if at all possible in morning rush hour.

Another thing about Berlin: The ticket enforcers are plain clothes, so they have an easier time catching people. In Paris they wear authoritative-looking uniforms, so people without tickets just bolt as soon as they see them. (I’m not sure how this works in other cities.)

ssays (#1,736)

After extensive time in both cities there is NO WAY that DC deserves a better rating than NYC. A list of reasons:
1. The DC Metro closes at midnight on weeknights. Oh, you work at a bar/restaurant that closes at 11:30? Good luck closing and getting to the train on time.
2. NO MONTHLY UNLIMITED PASS IN DC. NYC, monthly pass is a bit pricy BUT IT EXISTS AND TAKES YOU TO ALL THE PLACES!
3. Why do I have to go to a CVS or Giant to buy a Smart trip?
4. The weird thing that happens with the yellow/green line during rush hour.
5. Need to dive through closing doors to make the train? DC Metro will hold your backpack hostage and leave you fearing for your live. NYC subway doors will be easily pushed open.

Maybe I am biased on the 45 minute wait thing because most of my time is spent below 70th street or in the near reaches of Brooklyn, but I <3 the subway. One point for DC though, the Circulator bus is MAGIC.

P.S. Why am I so passionate about this?

Orangina19 (#925)

My ranking:

1) Paris- It may be crowded but once I went the worng way and was able to be back in the right direction 5 minutes later
2) New York
3) Madrid
4)London
5) a very distant 5 is Boston- 45 minutes to go from one end of Beacon to the other is riculous
Honorable mention- Barcelona and Lisbon- I wasnt on either one long enough to get a real sense but they were superior to Boston

soogee (#689)

Nobody’s mentioned Atlanta’s MARTA?
I’d give it a 1.5. Its main fault lies in infrequency of trains/buses (this is a BIG one). No one needs to wait 25-45 minutes at each transfer. But there are a good number of routes. And the cars are always spacious and clean.

readyornot (#816)

@soogee @soogee Waitwait! Atlanta has to get at least one extra point because MARTA goes directly to the airport. I mean, New York doesn’t do that (I don’t count the A train, it takes like two hours, and also the AirTrain transfer is expensive!). Even in Paris you have to switch from an RER. I feel like this reason also results in a bump for London and DC and maybe Chicago, though the author has her own special fondness for the place she actually lives.

I was in Sydney recently too – I took the light rail train several times (LOVE!) and the monorail once (last day, a novelty thing. At $5, surely no actual Sydney residents use it for transport?!)

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@eemusings@twitter
No-one local uses the monorail. Terrible value when you can purchase unlimited travel within the city for the whole week for like $40 (this includes Light Rail, buses, ferries and trains – not monorail because it’s privately owned (hence the stupid pricing) – locals would use it if it was included on the mymulti travel card. But really, the buses are sufficient and just hop off at The Star casino Light Rail stop to get to the cool stuff/business in Pyrmont).

mangosara (#1,211)

Nobody’s mentioned the T in Boston? THE GREEN LINE? The buses that never ever arrive, without any warning or notification?? And they just raised prices. I die.

@mangosara UGH. THE T. When I visit Boston, I inevitably end up going down the wrong entrance or getting on the wrong train on the right color line or something ridiculous. Then I discovered the bike rentals and realized that everything was so much closer together than the T had me thinking. But, seriously, the bike rentals. They are amazing!

Copenhagen’s trains and busses always worked pretty well for me when I lived there, although the busses could be so absurdly crowded. Helped me learn to be more assertive, though (and throw elbows). Also, living in SoCal now without a car, I long for NYC’s public transit – garbage trucks and all.

readyornot (#816)

Sooo…this list is not a “public transportation” ratings list. It’s a rail-based transit review list! IknowIknow – we’re all biased toward trains, at least in the contributer/audience target demographic. But some people have made notes above about buses in Sydney and DC, and really, buses are where a significant chunk of passenger miles on public transit are ridden, at least in the US. And in terms of public finance viability and environmental sustainability, buses are going to become an even more prominent part of a transit solution. Time to review the bus systems!

Los Angeles has a seriously amazing bus system. You can get anywhere, and it’s relatively cheap. OK, I may be that crazy person who has lived in LA with no car, and I do still prefer the really new, really clean, really fancy subway (it’s gorgeous), but it has specific uses and if that don’t fit your needs, you’re crawlin’ back to the bus.

I’m in Zurich at the moment, and pretty much all I want to talk about is how amazing the trams are. So clean and punctual, and running all over the city. Going to go take one now.

e (#734)

You know what? I’m just going to go there. Los Angeles has pretty good public transit. The buses can be overcrowded at times, but the overall ability to get places, and the regularity they come with? Better than most other places I’ve lived. There’s certainly lots they could fix but I take a subway to work every morning here and I think overall, it’s pretty good and I don’t sit in traffic. They’re adding lots of new rail and it’s been funded by people voting to increase the sales tax and that’s pretty impressive. Also the gold line out to Pasadena is a very pretty ride. Three stars!

TARDIStime (#1,633)

Take that 1 star for the Sydney Monorail away! It doesn’t deserve it! When you see something there that the locals don’t use, just don’t go there.
If you’re EVER in Sydney again, go to 131500.com.au – just enter the Address/landmark/train station you’re at and then the corresponding address/landmark/station you want to get to and BAM! Proper directions with maps if there is walking involved. Also, that’s where the (frequent) trackwork delays are listed so you know in advance whether to mentally prepare for the hell that is Rail Buses.
Also, don’t expect anything to be clean like Melbourne, which is the Winner of Public Transport.

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