Thanks to the climbing price of gas, driving is quickly turning into a pastime for the rich and famous. So unless you’re ready to re-mortgage your house, you may have to leave your car at home and hop on a subway, bus or light rail to get to work.Not sure what to expect? We’ve put together a top 10 list of public transportation systems in the world to give you an idea of what cities have the best mass transit available to the working public.
To make the list each city’s transit system has to have a combination of reliability, safety, good coverage of routes and cleanliness. If your city is on the list, you’re in good shape.If not, you may want to demand more from it, because if gas prices keep rising this could be your “ride” for a while.
If something was ever rotten in the state of Denmark, Copenhagen's public transportation system wasn't it. The Copenhagen Metro was completed in 2002, and Copenhagen's public transit is linked by another train system -- the S-trains -- that connect people to the suburbs and outside regions of Denmark.
They also have an urban bike program that allows people to use a quarter to unlock a parked bike, then go for a ride and park it in another zone across town whereupon their quarter will be returned.
In 2006, its metro had a 98-99% reliability rate, with train cars that have a reputation for cleanliness thanks to the Danish culture that frowns upon littering of any kind. Copenhagen's trains use an Automated Train System (ATS) that runs the train network through a computer, which increases both its efficiency and safety. All told, Copenhagen's public transportation system offers customers a comfortable, dependable ride.
Hong Kong, China
Approximately 90% of all travel in Hong Kong is done via mass transit. And the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), aka the Hong Kong Subway, is responsible for most of it.
The system takes seven million riders a day through its 175-kilometer long network, with trains that are known to run on time, no matter what. They also have a good safety record, using platform screen doors to keep riders off the tracks when the trains aren't at the station.
One of its most unique features is the Octopus Card. Users can fill this card with a dollar limit that they can charge against their transit fares, fast food, parking meters, and anything in a convenience store. Another bonus? MTR offers 3G network coverage for phones and computers. That means riders can make video calls and watch video streams on their commute, even underground.
New York City, NY
The New York Subway system is as ubiquitous and iconic as the Statue of Liberty. Over 100 years old, it offers 375 kilometers of coverage across the city, express services that run on separate tracks from local trains and it runs 24-hours a day, every day of the year.
While it had safety issues during its 1970's decline and new ones raised after 9/11, the system has made changes that included an aggressive program to rid cars of graffiti and random security checks on riders' bags.
In 2006, it maintained a consistent train schedule from the previous year. Plus, its reputation for dirt and grime is changing as riders have rated the interior of its cars cleaner from previous years. For its sheer size and number of people that use it everyday (4.5 million), this system holds its own.
At 110 years old, Paris' metro has 214 kilometers of tracks with the most closely spaced stations in the world and the world's largest underground station, Chatelet les Halles.
The system is a behemoth that transports 4.5 million a day, and has an even bigger network that riders can access with their Navigo card. This includes RER trains to Paris' suburbs, buses in the city, plus a bicycle program -- Velib -- that gives users a bike to ride from one section of town to another.
The city has also trimmed its driving lanes to offer an express bus lane, and while some claim the metro has its own distinct fragrance, it still maintains a reliable schedule. Just beware France's other tradition, French workers' strikes. The upside: You can find a bistro for great wine and food while you wait it out.
This public transportation system is another heavy hitter. The subway system manages 8 million travellers a day and covers 287 kilometers of track that also integrates with Seoul's bus system.
Its other bonus: the Seoul public transit system is seriously user-friendly. It has train arrival systems with LED screens that tell riders when the next train is coming, its announcements are in Korean and English, it has Wi-Fi access underground and in its stations, and it even has robots that help passengers find information.
It's South Korea's goal to have a robot in every household by 2015-2020 to help families and they're now getting a trial run in their subway system. With everything Seoul's system has to offer, resistance is futile.
This subway system is one of most expensive systems in the world. However, considering it's been ranked No. 1 in the world three years straight for safety, reliability and quality by an international body, it looks like money well spent.
The Taipei MRT offers riders LED screens with times of trains along with Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, and English announcements. The stations are air-conditioned, trains have a good record of being on time and they maintain high levels of cleanliness by forbidding eating, smoking and gum-chewing in the stations and in the cars.
As a result, the riders gave the system an overall score of 95.5% for tidiness. Plus, the transit system has added a gondola that runs between the Taipei Zoo and Maokong to accommodate passengers. Since its daily ridership averages about 1.1 million people, it looks like a good idea.
Moscow has one of the oldest grids in the world and is also the second most heavily used system, carrying over 7.5 million people daily. Its network of routes is close to 293 kilometers long with clean stations, which themselves are an attraction of ornate, Baroque architecture that people spend time enjoying.
Yet, for all its history and craftsmanship, perhaps its biggest marvel is its efficiency. Many consider it to be the most reliable subway in the world, running up to 40 trains an hour. If you choose to stay in the station a bit longer to take in its architecture, you can set your watch to the next train on the schedule.
Combine this with the fact that it has had very few accidents, and this public transportation system stands out as one of the best in the world.
This subway system alone is the most used in the world, averaging eight million passengers a day. However, Tokyo's entire network of train service is around 27,270 kilometers long from monorails to longer-haul suburban trains.
Japanese culture puts a huge importance on cleanliness, so the subway is virtually spotless of garbage, plus it has heated seats and a computerized messaging system in Japanese and English that tells you where you are on your journey and when you can expect your next stop.
The trains have a strong reputation for running on time, very rare incidents of crime or vandalism, and their stations have markers on their platforms to indicate where people can stand to be located directly in front of a subway door. However, if you're travelling at rush hour, rail workers will stuff you into a car, no matter how packed. Be prepared to squish in with everyone else.
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