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Clean, On Time and Rat-Free: 9 International Transit Systems With Lessons for New York

What smells like a “nightclub toilet,” inspires the sensation of “an underworld” and resembles a “working museum”?

That can be the New York City subway, in keeping with world readers who’ve skilled it.

The subway runs across the clock and carries hundreds of thousands day by day throughout a sprawling community. But after we requested riders of public transit around the globe how their techniques evaluate, New York’s scored worse than maximum on a number of measures.

[Read New Yorkers’ tales of primary subway meltdowns.]

Among the enviable options they described had been Moscow’s chandelier-adorned platforms, Istanbul’s plans for a 500-mile enlargement and Tokyo’s pleasant attendants who find misplaced pieces.

Below are a few of their stories of outstanding public transit. They had been condensed, edited for readability and paired with pictures in their techniques and New York’s.

What stories have you ever had with public transit? Tell us within the feedback.


I’m a senior majoring in Russian research at Carleton College in Minnesota. When I studied in another country in Moscow ultimate yr, my father, a South Bronx local, came over. We took the metro again and again, and he was once stunned.

“Where are the rats?” he requested. “I can’t believe how clean it is on these platforms.”

Many of the stations are artworks. Kievskaya, one in all my favorites, has chandeliers and glittering mosaics with scenes from Ukrainian and Russian historical past. My different favourite station, Dostoevskaya, has work of art depicting a few of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s well-known works, together with “Crime and Punishment.”

The stations are held to a top same old of cleanliness, and there’s a relentless police presence. Hooliganism is a major crime, and it’s unlawful to drink within the metro.

New York impressions: The subway in New York doesn’t observe a time table in my revel in. One time, in the summertime of 2017, I waited 40 mins for a Q educate on Brighton Beach. There was once development, however come on, 40 mins?

Schuyler Kapnick


I reside in Tokyo and depend on 3 trains — JR and Tokyo Metro traces — to get to my activity main meals excursions on the Tsukiji fish marketplace. My first educate is known for being packed all through the morning trip. But riders are just right for essentially the most section about making room for as many of us as imaginable. When issues cross easily, a brand new educate comes at the JR Chuo line each and every couple of minutes. If there are ever delays, educate stations, social media and TV information are fast to percentage the tips.

Trains are blank, and some vehicles are reserved for girls and youngsters. There are group of workers on the stations who’re useful and pleasant. One time I left my keys at the educate, and the group of workers at my station briefly found out which educate it was once and the place I may monitor it down. The keys had been became in and I retrieved them.

Japanese tradition respects others earlier than your self. My educate journey is so quiet within the morning child may sleep. There are regulations, corresponding to letting other folks off first, that everybody follows.

New York impressions: I lived in New York for a few years, and two issues took place to me at the subway. First, I used to be held up. There had been different riders within the automotive, and nobody did the rest to lend a hand. Second, I used to be on a educate and a person had a gun. Everyone panicked, and other folks fled to the ends of the educate. This doesn’t occur in Tokyo.

Yukari Sakamoto


As an American and former New Yorker, I’m keenly acutely aware of the general public transit variations between right here and New York. In Amsterdam this is a precedence, a connecting internet of trams, buses, trains and ferries that permits everybody to get round safely and on time.

I got here to Amsterdam in 1989 to paintings for Radio Netherlands Worldwide and began dwelling right here complete time seven years later. Now I’m retired, and as a senior on a restricted source of revenue, I qualify for a loose move on all town transportation. This mobility has opened my existence.

When American buddies discuss with, they believe our machine is sort of a dream. But it isn’t. It’s the results of selections made via town and nationwide governments and supported via the citizenry, who get advantages day by day and are keen to pay taxes to enhance it.

New York impressions: When I moved to Amsterdam after 15 years in New York, I had no concept that delivery may in truth run on a time table. All I knew was once to time table additional time.

I nonetheless don’t agree with the timetables, principally as a result of I need to stay a few of my New Yorker-ness!

Ruth Dreier


The metro this is referred to as the global’s longest artwork gallery.

One card lets you journey the commuter trains, metro, trams, ferries and buses. There are even driverless automobiles. Transit is secure, punctual and reasonably priced. Between my trip from the suburbs and my paintings co-directing the Stockholm Fringe Festival, I take 3 to 4 transportation modes an afternoon. The machine is a part of my place of business.

For the pageant we depend on public transit to get our actors, group and target audience contributors to each and every venue. In reality we plan the places and time table across the metro traces. In 2012 we had a roaming efficiency that happened throughout other stations and trains. It received the Audience Choice Award.

New York impressions: The subway seems to be love it does within the films and smells like a shady nightclub bathroom.

Adam Potrykus


When my husband and I had been each operating remotely, we idea, “Why not do this from Berlin instead of home?” So we left Austin, Tex., and spent a month there in 2016. We returned ultimate yr to have fun our 13th marriage ceremony anniversary and my birthday. Berlin is our favourite large town, largely on account of how simple transportation is.

The U-Bahn was once our number one way of transit for the whole lot. Trips on it aren’t specifically memorable, and that’s the way it must be. Systems are constant throughout platforms and stations. There aren’t hindrances to clean trip. What’s memorable, regardless that, is the beautiful, ornate tiling in lots of the stations. You additionally don’t validate your price ticket whilst you input a platform, which I believe simplest works on account of German tradition.

New York impressions: When I visited New York, the stations had been grungier and extra rundown than the U-Bahn. But the U-Bahn serves a town with three.five million other folks. It’s more difficult to handle and blank a machine in a town of eight.five million.

Jamie Miller

My circle of relatives has a basis that manages a robotics festival in Turkey. My paintings for it regularly calls for taking public transit to fulfill with colleges, sponsors and groups throughout Istanbul. When I used to be having a look for an rental, get admission to to the metro and buses was once mainly my simplest criterion.

The metro is beautiful incredible. The trains can elevate an enormous choice of other folks. We have delicate overcrowding for an hour or two an afternoon, however it’s generally no longer horrendous. Trains are nearly by no means behind schedule because of just right upkeep. My line, the M2, carries about 400,000 other folks on a daily basis with out hassle.

The trains have TV monitors that play quite a lot of issues. My favorites are the cat (and occasionally canine) movies.

The metro glints: Trains and stations are glossy blank. What I really like maximum, regardless that, is how briskly it’s increasing. There are plans to move from 105 miles of monitor to about 680 miles within the subsequent decade or so.

New York impressions: I’ve come to New York for robotics competitions. The subway will get you there. That’s about it. It was once sluggish and damaged, with quite a lot of trash and decay. I felt like I used to be in an underworld.

Alex Francis Burchard


My paintings addresses urban-planning problems. Before shifting to Vancouver, I lived in San Francisco, the place I helped take down the Embarcadero Freeway and create the Presidio, a countrywide park. Here, I’m operating to take away two outdated freeway viaducts, which will probably be changed via a brand new roadway, parks, housing, motorbike paths and extra.

The SkyTrain, our speedy transit machine, has 3 traces that run via metro Vancouver. It performs a key section in a transportation technique that makes strolling, biking and transit account for part of all journeys in Vancouver.

The complete machine is driverless. I’ve sat within the entrance seat of a SkyTrain, imagining that I’m the engineer as we race around the Fraser River.

Automation places extra money into upkeep and enlargement. Six new stations opened in 2016. A undertaking that may attach the suburbs to a big sanatorium has been authorized, and an extension to the University of British Columbia is being mentioned.

New York impressions: The subway is a important public asset with spectacular 24-hour provider. But it’s antiquated, inefficient and no longer designed for every age and skills.

Michael Alexander


I’m a professor of pc science and use public transit on weekdays to drop off my youngest daughter in school, get to my college, run errands and cross to conferences.

Zurich’s machine has many fascinating options. Most trams and many bus traces have their very own lane, so trip time is kind of predictable.

The buses, with few exceptions, and many trams have low flooring, permitting a stroller, wheelchair or suitcase to be moved simply onboard. Most U-Bahn stations also are out there.

The timetables are relatively dense on many traces, and the night and weekend schedules aren’t a lot thinner. On Friday and Saturday there’s a late-night community. I’ve by no means felt unsafe in any bus or tram.

Public transportation covers each and every a part of town. I don’t recall strolling greater than 5 mins to a prevent. It additionally has vast social acceptance; I do know C.E.O.s who take public transit.

We as soon as had guests from the United States who left a purse with cash, jewellery and their passports on a bus. It took a telephone name to determine when and the place to fulfill the bus, and the motive force passed over the bag.

New York impressions: The subway is a pleasing operating museum.

Thomas Gross


I’m going to Northeastern University in Boston and studied in London for six months in 2017. I go back each and every so regularly to paintings with a chum there on a trade mission.

The Tube was once essentially the most superb factor to occur to me. I may achieve almost each and every spot in London in not up to 40 mins.

The machine is terribly environment friendly, with widespread trains all through the day. For me this is likely one of the primary causes that London has stayed forward of many towns that haven’t elderly as gracefully.

The trains are extraordinarily lengthy and can are compatible lots of passengers. Some stops additionally function nationwide rail stations. I may board a educate close to my rental and head out nearly anyplace within the United Kingdom, from London’s suburbs to Edinburgh.

Transit fares are in response to zones. One time I by chance left the world that my card may get admission to. It was once 2:30 a.m., and I used to be six miles from my rental. A safety guard presented to pay for me and I used to be house inside 30 mins.

New York impressions: I really like that New York’s subway is in depth (extra so than Boston’s), however it’s extraordinarily deficient high quality. It’s nearer to London when it comes to having many stops in lots of puts, however no longer shut in a lot else.

Andrew Cataldo

Follow Lara Takenaga on Twitter: @LaraTakenaga.

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