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Subway (mass transit) systems

Subway (mass transit) systems

Old Dec 9, 19, 4:05 am
  #46  
 
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I just love the NYC subway.

Yes, I am aware of many of its deficiencies.

But there is some beauty to it. The crowds which vary based on where you're heading. The simplicity of the fare system. The express trains. The 24/7 service on many lines. The conductor announcements which, unfortunately, have gotten rarer ("this is the conductor...", the now gone "stand clear of the c..mm.,.mn mn."). The map. Etc.
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Old Dec 9, 19, 8:18 am
  #47  
 
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Originally Posted by R.O. View Post
I just love the NYC subway.

Yes, I am aware of many of its deficiencies.
I love the architecture and infrastructure of the NYC system. Like others have said, the system is old, but fortunately to the architecture buff in me, it hasn't been made generic by replacing the old with the new. I am sure some aren't as interesting but I enjoy the cavernous old stations.
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Old Dec 9, 19, 11:30 am
  #48  
 
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Nice thread!

What is your favorite subway system, and why?
Moscow, because it's so beautiful, the trains come so frequently, and it's the first system outside my hometown that I explored extensively on my own as I was growing up, so there's some sentimental attachment. Besides the obvious beauty of the art, I like the variety of clocks used to tell the time since the last train. Using the system as a reference point has resulted in some strange experiences when riding Moscow-inspired systems in other places -- for instance, boarding the Tashkent metro at Abdulla Qodiriy, a very Moscow-reminiscent station with a decidedly un-Russian-sounding name.

What are some of the most enormous subway stations that you know of? How do you deal with them.
Shinjuku and Shibuya, for certain. Usually I can rely on the exit number to know where I'm going, but this year I exited at Shibuya and not only could I not find the exit number I needed, I stumbled upon a wholly new line I'd never heard of. A window in a passageway alerted me that I was actually right near where I wanted to be.

What is your favorite airport for subway access to the downtown area it serves?
Boston, because (as mentioned) it's close to downtown and, though not a true subway line, the Silver Line from the airport is free (though I've never taken it, because the airport is so close to my brother's bar that I usually walk over for a drink and then board at Maverick).

Do you have any general tips to offer on the systems you know best?
In New York, as mentioned, pay attention to express and local trains so you don't bypass your stop, and pay attention to rerouting at nights and on weekends. I feel as though the advice to avoid the turnstiles on the end (because they are more frequently used and therefore get dirty and return more error messages) is sound, but I doubt my positive experience heeding it is enough proof that there's actually a difference.

What's your protocol for identifying optimal station exits?
Figure out what direction I want to be heading in when I leave, figure out what direction the train is heading in, and use the two to position myself on the train so that in a perfect world, there will be an exit near where I get off that's close to where I want to go. I haven't figured out how to get Google Maps to show all the station exits, at least in New York.

Seth
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Old Dec 9, 19, 1:14 pm
  #49  
 
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Originally Posted by sethweinstein View Post
Nice thread!

heading in when I leave, figure out what direction the train is heading in, and use the two to position myself on the train so that in a perfect world, there will be an exit near where I get off that's close to where I want to go. I haven't figured out how to get Google Maps to show all the station exits, at least in New York.[/color]
Some subway systems have properly labeled exits (eg 1, 2, 3a, 3b), and Google maps will route you accordingly (tell you to take exit 3b and then turn right etc). I believe Taipei, south Korea are in this category

Unfortunately, NYC is not one of them. But if you enable transit mode in Google maps, it will show the station layout in pink, and Google maps will direct you to use follow which Street exit and direction. (Eg take Broadway & 42th, southeast exit) . No numbers though
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Old Dec 9, 19, 3:12 pm
  #50  
 
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Originally Posted by paperwastage View Post
if you enable transit mode in Google maps, it will show the station layout in pink, and Google maps will direct you to use follow which Street exit and direction. (Eg take Broadway & 42th, southeast exit) . No numbers though
Thanks! I knew I'd seen it before and couldn't find it on my phone. And for a while I still couldn't find it. It's not in the settings. Who knew you had to press on the thing that looks like a graduation cap? Pictures, bah.

Seth
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Old Dec 9, 19, 5:05 pm
  #51  
 
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
My three favourites, in alphabetical order, are Hong Kong, London and Paris. My particular dislikes are New York (efficient but dirty and horrible) and San Francisco (badly maintained and filthy).

Obviously a subway system has to get the basics right (speed, connectivity, adequate comfort, convenience etc.) but increasingly I find ease of payment really becomes important. Here London is streets ahead (completely contactless throughout the system, including bus with fare breaks and caps fully integrated), Hong Kong is good but you have to rely on Octopus and busses are different. Paris has fallen behind with the Metro, bus and RER all on different systems.
I find many systems in the US to be dirty. But according to my friend, washington metro is very clean. I do agree, as an sf native, that our subway is dirty.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 6:15 am
  #52  
 
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What is your favorite subway system, and why?
Tokyo and Paris - because of how comprehensively they cover the city. My main complaint with Paris is those damn paper tickets kept getting de-magnetized. I had purchased a 48 hour pass and had to replace my ticket four times on the first day. Eventually I just ended up buying new tickets for each journey (that was such a waste of 20 Euros). Tokyo is just incredible but I can imagine why it would be daunting for those not used to complex public transport systems.

It reminds me of the first time I went to Japan. My friends were in Ginza and I (having woken up late) was joining them there later. I reached Ginza station and my friend messaged me telling me to meet them at the station exit. I politely informed him of the number of exits and eventually managed to find them through sheer dumb luck. I intend to try this as a prank with someone someday as Shinjuku station.

Dubai because the stations are so incredibly clean. However, I wish the stations were easier to access - most months its too hot to walk and the station nearest to where I live has no easy pedestrian access.

Singapore, Seoul & Hong Kong also have good systems - easy to use and visitor friendly.

Vienna & Berlin both have comfortable & adequate systems given the sizes of those cities.

I want to like NYC's but it is far too filthy for my liking. Rome's was even worse.

What are some of the most enormous subway stations that you know of? How do you deal with them.
Shinjuku & Shibuya would have to rank up there and I deal with them by avoiding them entirely whenever possible.

What is your favorite airport for subway access to the downtown area it serves?
HKG, ICN, TYO are all great in this regard. VIE was incredible - easy to access the platform & really quick. BKK was terribly convoluted and I don't usually bother in NYC.

Ro
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Old Dec 10, 19, 9:54 am
  #53  
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Favorites in the current era:
- Paris. Covers the whole city beautifully. You're always near a Metro station.
- Hong Kong. Love Oyster, also super-easy for the visitor.
- Tokyo. A great system, kind of a spectacle of humanity, and you feel like you've leveled up your public transit skill if you successfully figure out how to use it.

Oddball systems I like just because of the cool streetcars: Vienna, Lisbon

Sentimental attachment: Chicago, London. The first two big cities where I spent a lot of time on public transit starting as a teenager through my early 20s. Sadly neither score high marks globally in terms of cleanliness.

Systems I admired for their precision: Moscow and Washington. I loved the Moscow stations and the fact that they ran on-time to the second. (Not sure if this is still true - my visits there were in the 90s.) Washington Metro was the pride of US systems for a long time but I understand it's fallen into disrepair in recent years. Since the advent of Uber/Lyft, I haven't used this system much on my trips to DC.

Best airport rides. I give credit to places where the train beats traffic, or where the train is the best option for a visitor. HKG, ORD, BOS (efficient bus in a dedicated lane that connects directly into the T and Amtrak in Boston), SEA at rush hour.

Most mind-blowing station: definitely Shinjuku. But I also like it when the subway station shares space with an iconic train station, as happens often in Europe as well as in NYC at Grand Central Terminal.

Most frustrating that the such prominent airports don't have direct access to their city: New York. Taxis/Lyft/Uber still beat transit to Manhattan, which is kind of sad given how bad traffic can be. I've used transit from JFK and EWR on occasion, taking connecting trains, but it's really sad that there's no easy way in from LGA.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 12:46 pm
  #54  
 
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In the US, I think Denver has a pretty amazing connection to downtown. The airport has a beautiful station and it's nice that a commuter rail system has 15 minute headways and makes few stops to get downtown despite the airport being so far away. I like Minneapolis' connection too. Chicago would be better if there were more room for luggage on the trains, but the ease of getting to the EL isn't bad. Midway is kind of a long walk, but once you do that it's only about a 20-25 minute ride to the loop. O'Hare is easier to walk to the Blue Line, but it's a long ride to downtown with so many stops. I really wish Metra would add some express trains to Union Station once the people mover to complete to the new rental car facility.

I really like airports that have direct access to their intercity/high speed rail network. It's so nice to just board a real train and go directly to a different city without having to cram your luggage onto a cramped subway to get to the city center. Boarding an ICE train right at Frankfurt Airport can't be more convenient.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 6:04 pm
  #55  
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Originally Posted by bobbytables View Post
The use of contactless/RFID tech alone isnít that big a deal really. Itís the use of the existing (visa/mc/amex/etc) payment system that makes London streets ahead. Why should I have to bother getting yet another card just to ride public transport?

I believe you can register on the Transport for London website with the payment card you want to use and then you can buy a custom ďtravelcardĒ - not actually a card but just associated to your payment card. Iím usually there for a bit longer so I donít bother and it works out all the relevant fare caps automatically.
In a lot of cases (at least in the US wherever it's supported), it's seemingly discouraged to use your credit/debit card that way even if you're just visiting (only allowing single rides to be paid through it, etc.)--hence the need for a separate card. That's slowly getting better, however.

Speaking of which, San Diego's MTS is my local transit system (even if I only really use it a few times a year) and the Trolley seems to do reasonably well. I have less experience with the bus system, though, but other than the length of time required to take it I've had no problems thus far. It'll be interesting to see if they actually go open loop and accept CC taps right when their new payment system goes live in a couple of years; the stuff I originally heard claimed that it wouldn't to start.
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Old Dec 16, 19, 1:07 pm
  #56  
 
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post

Best airport rides. I give credit to places where the train beats traffic, or where the train is the best option for a visitor. HKG, ORD, BOS (efficient bus in a dedicated lane that connects directly into the T and Amtrak in Boston), SEA at rush hour.

Multiple posters in this thread have praised the Boston Silver Line and specifically called out features that are simply false.
1) The Silver Line is not free when you are riding TO the airport. It is only free if you board at the airport.
2) The Silver Line is NOT in a dedicated lane. It goes in regular traffic lanes for all of its route after it leaves the downtown tunnel. Specifically, it goes in regular traffic lanes through the tunnel to the airport, which means if traffic is backed up it runs late.

I can't understand why people are praising this system. Around Boston it is called the "Silver Lie" because it looks like a subway line on the T map but is actually just a regular street-running bus. Also, it is promoted by the MBTA as "Bus Rapid Transit" but is rated as "not-BRT" by the national BRT association. It has the following features:
1) Very slow; sits in stalled traffic at the airport and in the Ted Williams tunnel; very long waits at some traffic lights (one has a 1.5 minute cycle time); lengthy manual changeover from electric to diesel when leaving bus tunnel.
2) Confusing and changing fare structure (witness the false statements about it in this thread)
3) No reserved lanes except in downtown tunnel
4) Circuitous route: it goes over a mile out its way to make a big loop while approaching the airport because the on ramp it should use is reserved by the police or something like that.

"Not a big fan of the Silver Line, but otherwise pleased with the T in general"
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Old Dec 16, 19, 6:03 pm
  #57  
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Originally Posted by saunders111 View Post
Multiple posters in this thread have praised the Boston Silver Line and specifically called out features that are simply false.
1) The Silver Line is not free when you are riding TO the airport. It is only free if you board at the airport.
2) The Silver Line is NOT in a dedicated lane. It goes in regular traffic lanes for all of its route after it leaves the downtown tunnel. Specifically, it goes in regular traffic lanes through the tunnel to the airport, which means if traffic is backed up it runs late.
When my dad lived at Seaport, the Silver Line was remarkably convenient. Now that he lives in the Back Bay, it's a little less convenient, but I still appreciate it.
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Old Dec 16, 19, 7:22 pm
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Originally Posted by bitterproffit View Post
This is my go to website for subways and metros. I use it whenever I plan to visit a city. Its great to understand the overview in each city, but not so convenient when you are actually needing a map while you are trying to find the subway. But this website is amazingly comprehensive:

urbanrail.net > metro - subway - light rail

You can get lost in the web site. Just pick a continent, and then find just about any city with mass transit.
This is fabulous. THANK YOU!

I can usually fight my way through a new web site, but this one has all the systems printed in the same style. Will save me tons of time.

I've always loved public transport. I continue to find it totally amazing that I can go to a new and very foreign city and get my body moved quickly for such a small bit of money.
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Old Dec 16, 19, 7:26 pm
  #59  
 
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Romelle, glad you like it. It’s a great overview. Sometimes trams are missing. But it’s a great planning website. I plan with it and then use google maps transit when I’m actually in transit.

plus, sometimes a city has transit, but google doesn’t have it well mapped. Like Malaga, or Phoenix.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 5:33 am
  #60  
 
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I wouldn't say it's my favourite but I noticed no-one mentioned Kyiv. It's only got three lines and is operated by (dirt cheap!) cute token system. The architecture in some of the stations is Soviet brutalist and the condition is variable.

For those wanting to experience long escalator rides that make your head go wooshy, head to Arsenalna which is the deepest station in the world at 105.5 m or 346.1 ft below ground.
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