Best transportation system

I was reading the posts below and couldn’t help thinking: Which city can claim the best transportation system? The posts from Chi-town, Mich, and FLA said their constant construction and potholes are constant headaches. Here in Atlanta, the traffic/pollution issue is huge. We have 11 lane interstates in certain areas and the traffic jams up anyway. MARTA (The ATL subway train) helps only if you are going to a sporting event. Is there a solution? Has any city developed a happy medium between mass transit, buses and cars? Some think the traffic in Atlanta could be an unsolvable problem.

I thought the Metro in Washington D.C. was pretty awesome, although I’ll let the D.C. Dopers have the final say on that.

D.C.? The Beltway traffic is legendary for it’s evilness that rivaled that in NYC.

I’m partial to NYC just because of public transportation, which is, dare i say, the best, most reliable, and also most depended on by it’s constituants, Subway & Bus system in the world.

Yer pal,

If you don’t mind really big crowds, Tokyo is extremely efficient. It goes everywhere, however, it’s not 24 hours like NYC. The stations are impeccably clean and even the homeless are given new cardboard boxes every night.

I hear that Satan…
I thought if I brought up NY, then I would get flamed. I have spent 2 awesome vacations there and loved it. No car of course. We used the subways to get everywhere and saw a ton of stuff on foot. I only wish ATL would tear up some main roads and put a train under it but that’s not the case.
I also spent a vacation in DC and still have nightmares about 495…

What about San Fransico?..I spent a year out that way in the Navy, never owned a car, and was able to get around fairly well…'cept for that one time I fell asleep and missed my stop…(grumble)cost me $30 just to get back…

I have heard from friends that vacationed in SF that it was a nice place to move around in. I need to visit to see for myself.
I was curious about this topic because the transportation woes of Atlanta make the papers often (as in other cities I’m sure). Every summer there is a widening project going on, but it never seems to help. On Good Friday of this last year, I literally COULD NOT get home, although I lived about 8 miles from work (very close by ATL standards, where the average commute is >30 min.). 3 wrecks on I-75 snarled traffic for hours. The Braves game snarled traffic in the other direction…it was insane. I long for a 5 minute train ride from home to work. That would kick arse and save gas.

Having lived in the SF area and now living in NYC (as well as having visited Chicago, Boston, DC and London), I would have to put in my vote for NYC as having the best public transportation.

The NYC subway runs 24/7, the trains, for the most part, arrive fairly frequently, and subway stops are fairly close together with few parts of the city requiring significant walks from a station. Also, it is a flat fare to get anywhere (no fare maps to consult).

The London Underground was the closest to NYC with its main downside being that it closed at around midnight. The one thing the Tube has which I would like to see in NYC subways is a display showing how long the wait is until the next train. London’s system is a bit more confusing but that’s only because the layout of London is much more confusing, especially compared to NYC which is probably the most gridlike city in the world.

In SF, I found MUNI to be unreliable (over half hour waits for a bus) and BART and CalTrain were too skeletal to provide adequate coverage. I ended up driving a car 95% of the time.

DC, I believe, has the same train system as BART (even the tickets look the same) though DC’s system (the Metro?) has much better coverage than BART.

My experiences with the systems in Chicago and Boston were fairly short though my impression was that the coverage was decent (at least in Chicago) but not at the same level as in NYC or London.

Now that said, nothing is worse than waiting on a subway platform in the summer in NYC…

New York City has a great mass transit system, and I do live there, and use it to get to work every day. But I’ve visited Washington DC, and used the mass transit, and liked it quite a bit. If DC isn’t better than NYC, than it’s certainly a close second.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

I have to agree with my pal Satan and the others - New York has it all over San Francisco in the transit department. Our recent visit there was a pure joy when it came to getting around. My daily experiences here seem only to get worse… and they keep talking about the fixes they are making! On the other hand, it’s fairly easy to walk most places (altho some of the hills are daunting) and the weather doesn’t turn me into a rag doll… I can’t imagine dressing professionally in NYC; how do they ever sell stcokings?

The reason gentlemen prefer blondes is that there are not enough redheads to go around.

Well, I don’t need to add my praise of the NYC subway system…the preceding posts say it all.

No one’s mentioned Paris yet, though. Man, I love the Metro…it takes you anywhere in and out of town quickly and conveniently, some of the stations are downright beautiful, and best of all (to these poor battered New York ears) the trains run on RUBBER TIRES!

Ahhhhhhhh…I could NAP down there…if I wasn’t afraid of the Apaches slicing off my fingers to get at my rings…


I will note that DC’s Metro (for above- and below-ground trains) is a whole different thing than DC’s Beltway (for cars) are two different things.
I rode on DC’s Metro in the late 80s and it was fast, efficient, and cheap. Other people I’ve talked to state the same thing, many expressing the wish that “every city” could have a similar system.
The cost to build DC’s Metro, in 1970s (when it was built) dollars was $790 PER INCH. Figure in inflation, and constructing a similar system today would clock in at $1400/inch.
No great “good” comes without great cost.

…that should be:
…(for cars). Two different things.
I cite my Geography 361 (Urban Geography) instructor, Dr. Clark Archer, for the above figures.

I’ve liievd in and around Washington for the past eight years. Yes, the Metro system is great. My only caveats are that the trains stop around midnight each night and that they’re so damn expensive.

The Metro subway runs on a ticket system, rather than a flat-fee token (like NYC does). When you enter the station, you buy a farecard for the cost of your intended travel. Each trip from station to station costs varied amounts, depending on time of day (rush hour, morning and evening, is more expensive), distance, whether you are crossing a state line (the Metro covers the DC area, including Maryland, Virginia, and the District itself). Travelling from my home station, Grosvenor (in Rockville, MD) to where I work, Metro Center (Downtown DC) costs $2.40 in rush hour, and $2.10 normally. This comes to almost $5/day roundtrip, for a ride of 10 stops, no transfers, covering about 10 miles. The cheapest one-way fare is $1.10, and that’s for travelling about one or two stops, within the same state (or within the District).

It’s expensive, but very extensive and safe/clean/efficient. There are obvious faults in the planning of the stations: no stations in Georgetown, Adams Morgan, scant coverage in southeast DC (where the majority of the population – black and poor – live), as well as no “Beltway line” which would solve a lot of suburb-to-suburb commuting problems that didn’t exist 30 years ago when the Metro was planned out.

The above is in reference to the lightrail Metrorail trains. The buses are another matter. They seem to be equally efficient -don’t have that much experience on them, so I’m not going to editorialize. Check out for the Metro’s web site.

My favourite international subways are London’s (amazingly efficient and well-covered) and Prague (simply gorgeous).

Vancouver, B.C., is also pretty good (although I might get flamed for not saying ‘the Lower Mainland’, which includes all the other places in the urban area).

Buses run as often as every 15 minutes (more often in rush hour) on main routes, though suburbs get less. And then we have the Skytrain, a mostly-elevated driverless system that cuts across most of the area. A new line has started construction (just barely started, but it’s a start!). There’s also the Seabus, a pedestrian ferry across Burrard inlet. Fares on weekdays range from $1.50 for one zone to $3.00 for all three zones; evenings and weekends a one-zone fare covers all three. I use a two-zone pass, $78 a month.

It works pretty well, and won an award (in 1996, IIRC) as the best transit in western Canada. Not that that means much; there are only half a dozen big cities in the area, and the smaller ones don’t have money for much transit.

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

Madrid has a very good Metro as well. Similar to Paris, VERY economical (especially if you buy a ten-ride ticket - that costs about as much as five individual rides), and you don’t have to wait very long for a train. The bizarre thing is that the signs on the platforms don’t tell you when the next train is coming - they tell you when the last train left! I guess that’s, um, sort of helpful…

SF’s system has lots of problems, but it is extremely easy to live here without a car - much more so than DC. Just stay off the underground (Muni) during rush hour.

Well, for those of us who dont live near SF, the BART is a good way to get to the city. My friends and I never drive to SF because parking is a bitch and SF was not made for cars. We go to Fremont to the BART station there, and get a round trip ticket for the day.

When we were in SF last, the buses were reliable that day. We were able to get to the places we wanted to go without much of a wait (Well no wait since we would get to the buses whenever we saw one and ask where they were going :)).

However, i can’t speak for NYC, but the subways there at least cover a lot more of the city. BART really only has stations along Market St. Otherwise you have to take the bus or walk. They were wanting to put in a BART station in San Jose but i dont think thats going to happen for some reason

It’s really not fair to compare BART to the NYC subway system. BART was never intended to get people from one part of the city to another. It exists to serve the suburban commuters.

You wanna know what’s really disgusting about the London Underground? Those “next train” signs have been around in one form or another for generations! I don’t know just how old they are, but they were already obviously ancient the first time I visited London, and that was 1968.

But, somehow, New York hasn’t figured it out, yet.

Except for the trains not running 24/7, London beats NYC hollow. (Even the night busses in London are relatively recent.)

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

They’re starting to install those “next train” signs in the Washington Metro. Metro Center, downtown, has them on the platforms, and I saw Metropeople testing them last Thursday. Hopefully they’ll be operational soon.

In Prague, at the end of all the platforms, there’s a digital clock showing both the current time and the time between trains. If the trains are running every eight minutes, you can be damn sure the next train’s gonna come within a few seconds of the second clock’s cycle reaching eight minutes. Damn impressive. Those Soviets could build a system.