Longest conveyance by public transportation

Inspired by the thread about longest airplane flight, I’d be curious as to other forms of public transportation. This might apply to the longest scheduled conveyance that contains intermediate stops (e.g. a San Francisco to Chicago train ride) as well as longest distance between stops (e.g. Hong Kong to Santiago on a cruise ship). This question could apply to scheduled ship cruises, commercial buses, sight-seeing tours, elevators, funiculars, trains, subway lines, aerial trams, or any form of scheduled public transportation.

I know that there are probably around-the-world cruises, so those would probably win the longest cruise ship. What are some others?

You can book passage on a container ship. I flipped through about 1/3 of their list of voyages, and the longest one I found is 97 days (London - Adelaide - London round trip), although it includes numerous stops enroute. The longest single leg of that journey is 13 days, between Pointe Des Galets, La Reunion (near Madagascar) and Sydney, Australia. All for the low low price of 12,742 Euros.

This seems like the prefect place for “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” :stuck_out_tongue:

If you like trains, Kyev–Vladivostok should be a nice long ride. I don’t know if they are planning anything like London to Japan without change of trains, but that would be fun!

Do Russian trains still use a different gauge? I understood that was a big impediment to the German invasion of the Soviet Union during WW2, and would expect it would throw a wrench into any plans to go from Japan to England

I’m guessing that’s not the only wrench. Are there in fact any rail links at all between the continent of Asia and the archipelagic nation of Japan?

Not yet, but tunnels do exist between France and England, and there are proposals both to connect Japan and Korea by tunnel, and to tunnel from a Japanese island to a Russian one and build a bridge from there.

There is that Paris–Moscow train, for example; I never took it, so I don’t know what, if any, magic happens at the Russian border, but it happens.

A London–Tokyo express still needs those bridges+tunnels to be completed:

Apparently the answer is yes they still do, a smidgen narrower than 5 ft:

Not at present, but you’d do it the same way you used to get between the islands:
Train Ferry
… but for train tragics, a “Boat Train” that is through-ticketed would fulfill the criteria.

What happens is one of two things:

  1. Passengers transfer, at a station near the border, from one train to another
    or
  2. They stay on the same train, which is equipped with variable gauge. Essentially, the wheels underneath the cars can be moved further apart (for a switch to a wider gauge) or closer together (for a switch to a narrower gauge). This is done by unlocking a locking mechanism, pushing or pulling the cars onto a special track that narrows or widens along the way, pushing the wheels to the correct gauge. The locking mechanism is then engaged again, and the journey continues. It does, however, usually involve a change of the engine, as the engine’s wheels are not variable.

My understanding is that the second technique is more common. It does involve an interruption of the ride, but not a very long one.

In the past, a third method was common, whereby you’d use cranes that would lift up the passenger cabins of the cars and put them onto a separate frame with axles of the correct, new, gauge, but I think that has fallen out of use.

If in “public transportation” you would include transportation provided by the US government, how about the Apollo missions to the Moon and back?

Do airlines count as “public transportation”, here? Why or why not?

If we’re also counting historical means of transport, I’ll throw in the Manila galleon (Wiki article here, more detailed paper (in pdf) here). It was a shipping route which, for 250 years, connected two important colonies in the Spanish empire, Manila in the Philippines and Acapuloc in Mexico, on a 12,000 mile, four-month journey across the Pacific. They mostly carried cargo, but it was possible for people not involved in the transport of that cargo to buy a passage, so I guess that counts as “public transportation”. It was also scheduled, in the sense that normally there would be one trip in each direction per year.

If you’re counting public tours, there’s an overlander tour that goes from Ushuaia, Argentina to Anchorage Alaska. It looks like you switch vehicles though, and a flight is required over a portion of central America.

4 LONG days on an ancient Indian bus, over some of the most dangerous roads, from Manila to Leh, Ladakh. In the late 80’s, it stopped overnight in Kargil, so it could be two, back to back two day bus trips, I suppose. But everyone on the bus bought a single ticket, for the full journey so, I don’t know!

(Unless I’m mistaken at the time, it was the highest traverse.)

The buses were very old, and in bad repair, the road unpaved and barely wide enough in many spots. We waited till June for the glacier to recede, to get access, but it hadn’t fully, and the bus passed through a tunnel they’d hacked to get the road open. No guardrails, and the road would literally be crumbling beneath the bus, rocks etc tumbling down into the sheer drop, yikes! In spots it was so narrow traffic went only one way for an hour, then they’d switch.

But the scenery was beyond spectacular. Of course now the road is paved, and the buses modern, and there’s a highway from China that’s a higher traverse, I believe. Looking at photos of Leh today it is modern and very developed and well touristed. I’m so happy we saw it before that happened because it was one of the most magical places we’ve ever visited.

If we limit the travel to “public” transportation (i.e. usually run by a municipality) I seem to recall reading that at one time (1930’s?) you could take a series of trams/streetcars/trolleys (i.e. - single electrified vehicles running on tracks not owned by railroads) for long inter-city distances across parts of the US (Chicago/Detroit areas?). Not necessarily one continuous ride on the same vehicle, but may have involved seamless connections at various points.

Ref this snip from the OP, I’d say “no”.

Underlining mine.

It was somewhat earlier than the 30s, but my grandmother-in-law took a series of trolleys from Boston to NY in that fashion.


Or sometimes you’d brace the car and let the bogies roll into a pit.