A Guide To The World's Best Subway Systems

packed subway car

New York’s subway isn’t the cleanest in the world. Many areas lack amenities like air conditioning and wait time displays. Certain tracks are always under construction. And the city keeps hiking the ticket price.

But it’s got one thing going for it. With 660 miles of revenue track, New York’s subway is the biggest system in the world.

Barcelona Metro

Size: 58 miles

Cost: Up to $71

5:00am-midnight (Sunday-Thursday)
5:00am-2:00am (Friday and Saturday)

Barcelona TMB

Size: 64 miles

Cost: $59 for a 30-day ticket

Hours of operation:
5:15am-1245am (approximate, each line varies)


The T stops running at a fairly early hour, even on the weekends. There have also been complaints that the fare hikes have been unfair. The line also has a reputation for being unreliable.


Singapore's SMRT

Size: 80 miles

Cost: varies on distance traveled

5:30 am-1:00 am

The SMRT won two Terrapinn Metro awards, the Best Asia-Pacific Metro, and the Most Energy Efficient Metro. The metro system had a complete green initiative overhaul in 2009.

Washington, D.C.

Size: 106 miles

On the D.C. Metro, there is no option for monthly fares. Riders may purchase a SmarTrip card and load it with up to $300. Prices of trips vary from $1.95-$5.00 depending on distance. Riders swipe their SmarTrip card when entering and leaving the metro.

5:00am-midnight, weekdays
7:00am-3:00am weekends

The D.C. Metro is known for being unreliable. There is also no option for a weekly or monthly pass which is often a cheaper, more convenient way to travel.


Tokyo Metro

Size: 126 miles

Cost: $207 for a 30-day ticket

5:00 am-1:00 am

The Tokyo Metro is known for being one of the biggest, and most crowded systems in the world. But despite crowded trains, the metro is also known for being very efficient and its nearly 300 stations reach almost every part of the city.

Source: Tokyo Metro

Hong Kong

Size: 131 miles

Cost: up to $62 for a 30-day ticket

6:00 am-1:00 am (approximate, each line varies)

The Hong Kong metro is known for its efficiency and fast speeds. More than four million trips are made in an average weekday and there are 152 stations.


Paris Metropolitain

Size: 133 miles

Cost: 30-Day: $84

5:30am-1:15am (Sunday-Thursday)
5:30am-2:15am (Friday and Saturday)

The Paris Metro system is one of the busiest in the world and has 300 stations. The metro is also one of the densest in the world, its stations are close together and easy to get to.

Le Metropolitain

Madrid Metro

Size: 178 miles

Cost: ~$66 for a 30-day ticket


The Madrid Metro is extremely user friendly, it's virtually impossible to get on the wrong train because they are clearly marked and conductors announce the next stop.

Madrid Metro

Moscow Metro

Size: 185 miles

Cost: $60 for a 30-day ticket

6:00 am-1:00 am

The Moscow Metro carries seven million passengers daily over its 12 lines, and 182 stations. The metro system's architecture is beautifully detailed and has chandeliers hanging throughout.

Moscow Metro

Chicago L

Size: 224.1 miles

Cost: $86 for a 30-day ticket

Hours of operation: most lines are open 5:00am-1:00am, some lines have 'night owl' hours that run about every 30 minutes after 1:00am.

Chicago Transit Authority

London Tube

Size: 249 miles

Cost: $173 for a 30-day ticket


The Tube is known for being reliable, and clean. The system is easy to use, and there are often plans for improvement and new construction.

The Tube also won the Terrapinn Metro Award for the best metro in Europe, for its huge improvements in consistency of schedule.

The Tube

New York City

Size: 660 miles

Cost: $104 for a 30-day ticket

24 hours

While the NYC subway is one of the most expensive in the world, it is also one of the only systems open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The metro system will be even better with the addition of the 2nd Avenue line, which is under construction.

MTA Info

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