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

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 could be the New York City subway, consistent with global readers who’ve skilled it.

The subway runs across the clock and carries thousands and thousands day by day throughout a sprawling community. But once we requested riders of public transit all over the world how their programs evaluate, New York’s scored worse than maximum on a number of measures.

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

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

Below are a few of their stories of outstanding public transit. They were condensed, edited for readability and paired with footage in their programs and New York’s.

What reports 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 final 12 months, my father, a South Bronx local, came around. We took the metro repeatedly, 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 artistic endeavors. Kievskaya, one among 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 prime usual of cleanliness, and there’s a continuing police presence. Hooliganism is a significant crime, and it’s unlawful to drink within the metro.

New York impressions: The subway in New York doesn’t practice a agenda in my revel in. One time, in the summertime of 2017, I waited 40 mins for a Q educate on easy methods to Brighton Beach. There was once building, 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 task main meals excursions on the Tsukiji fish marketplace. My first educate is legendary for being packed all over the morning shuttle. But riders are just right for probably 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 short time. If there are ever delays, educate stations, social media and TV information are fast to proportion the guidelines.

Trains are blank, and some vehicles are reserved for girls and kids. 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 just monitor it down. The keys had been grew to become in and I retrieved them.

Japanese tradition respects others ahead of your self. My educate experience is so quiet within the morning child may just sleep. There are regulations, equivalent to letting 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 automobile, and no person did anything else to assist. Second, I used to be on a educate and a person had a gun. Everyone panicked, and 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 conscious about the general public transit variations between right here and New York. In Amsterdam this can be 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 unfastened go on all town transportation. This mobility has opened my existence.

When American pals consult with, they believe our gadget is sort of a dream. But it isn’t. It’s the results of choices made through the town and nationwide governments and supported through the citizenry, who receive advantages day by day and are keen to pay taxes to give a boost to it.

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

I nonetheless don’t believe the timetables, basically as a result of I wish to stay a few of my New Yorker-ness!

Ruth Dreier


The metro here’s referred to as the international’s longest artwork gallery.

One card means that you can experience the commuter trains, metro, trams, ferries and buses. There are even driverless automobiles. Transit is protected, punctual and inexpensive. Between my shuttle from the suburbs and my paintings co-directing the Stockholm Fringe Festival, I take 3 to 4 transportation modes an afternoon. The gadget is a part of my place of business.

For the competition we depend on public transit to get our actors, team and target market participants to each and every venue. In truth we plan the places and agenda across the metro traces. In 2012 we had a roaming efficiency that happened throughout other stations and trains. It gained the Audience Choice Award.

New York impressions: The subway appears adore it does within the motion pictures and smells like a shady nightclub bathroom.

Adam Potrykus


When my husband and I had been each running 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 final 12 months to have fun our 13th wedding ceremony anniversary and my birthday. Berlin is our favourite large town, largely as a result of how simple transportation is.

The U-Bahn was once our number one manner of transit for the entirety. 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 stumbling blocks to clean go back and forth. What’s memorable, although, is the beautiful, ornate tiling in lots of the stations. You additionally don’t validate your price tag whilst you input a platform, which I feel most effective works as a result 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 folks. It’s tougher to care for and blank a gadget in a town of eight.five million.

Jamie Miller

My circle of relatives has a basis that manages a robotics pageant in Turkey. My paintings for it frequently calls for taking public transit to satisfy with faculties, sponsors and groups throughout Istanbul. When I used to be taking a look for an rental, get entry to to the metro and buses was once principally my most effective criterion.

The metro is beautiful improbable. The trains can raise a large selection of folks. We have delicate overcrowding for an hour or two an afternoon, however it’s generally now not horrendous. Trains are virtually by no means not on time because of just right upkeep. My line, the M2, carries about 400,000 folks every day with out bother.

The trains have TV monitors that play loads of issues. My favorites are the cat (and infrequently canine) movies.

The metro flickers: Trains and stations are glossy blank. What I really like maximum, although, is how briskly it’s increasing. There are plans to head 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 loads of trash and decay. I felt like I used to be in an underworld.

Alex Francis Burchard


My paintings addresses urban-planning problems. Before transferring 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 running to take away two previous freeway viaducts, which might be changed through a brand new roadway, parks, housing, motorcycle paths and extra.

The SkyTrain, our fast transit gadget, 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 gadget 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 more cash into upkeep and growth. Six new stations opened in 2016. A venture that may attach the suburbs to a big health center has been licensed, and an extension to the University of British Columbia is being mentioned.

New York impressions: The subway is a essential public asset with spectacular 24-hour carrier. But it’s antiquated, inefficient and now not designed for every age and talents.

Michael Alexander


I’m a professor of laptop 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 gadget has many fascinating options. Most trams and many bus traces have their very own lane, so go back and forth 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 available.

The timetables are somewhat 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 a part of the town. I don’t recall strolling greater than 5 mins to a forestall. 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 satisfy the bus, and the motive force passed over the bag.

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

Thomas Gross


I’m going to Northeastern University in Boston and studied in London for six months in 2017. I go back each so frequently to paintings with a chum there on a industry project.

The Tube was once probably the most superb factor to occur to me. I may just achieve nearly each spot in London in not up to 40 mins.

The gadget is very environment friendly, with common trains all over the day. For me this is among 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 heaps of passengers. Some stops additionally function nationwide rail stations. I may just board a educate close to my rental and head out virtually any place within the United Kingdom, from London’s suburbs to Edinburgh.

Transit fares are in keeping with zones. One time I by accident left the world that my card may just get entry 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 of 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 in the case of having many stops in lots of puts, however now not shut in a lot else.

Andrew Cataldo

Follow Lara Takenaga on Twitter: @LaraTakenaga.

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