New York City subway, opened in 1904, is one of the few public transit systems
worldwide that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is also one of the
most well-connected underground networks, with 24 lines, 660 miles of
operational track and 468 subway stations – more than any other metro system in
the world. For this reason, around 4.5 million people ride the subway every day.
some argue that the New York subway could be safer. Last year, 55 people died on the tracks. This
year, following a string of deaths early in the year,
politicians and citizens alike are imploring the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority (MTA) to follow the lead of cities in
Asia and Europe
that have installed barriers along the platform edges to prevent suicides and
accidents. But so far, the MTA has said it is too expensive to
install such barriers in stations that are more than 100 years old.
Hong Kong, a 2008 study by the University of Hong Kong found that installing platform
safety doors resulted in a 60% reduction in railway
suicides. As such, the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) added platform safety doors
to all of its 84 stations, finishing the multi-year construction project in
2011. Indeed, the MTR’s underground had zero fatalities in 2011, the most
recent year for public data. The Hong Kong metro, which opened in 1975, receives
high praise from riders for efficiency as well as safety. With 175km of track
over 10 lines, the MTR accommodates 4.15 million passengers every day.
Copenhagen Metro, which became operational in 2002, combines the best of New
York and Hong Kong. Unlike other European public transit
systems, it stays open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Plus it focuses on
safety with the use of both platform barriers and driverless trains, which many
believe enhance safety and reliability by removing human
error from the equation.
satisfaction with the subway landed Denmark’s capital the MetroRail prize for the World’s Best Metro in 2010. The
Copenhagen Metro does not, however, offer the size of the MTA or MTR, operating only two lines over 21km of track with 22 stations. Still,
for Copenhagen’s size, the ridership is impressive – as of 2010, annual
ridership was around 260,000. A new line is expected to launch by 2018, adding
17 more stations.
award-winning metro can be found in Singapore, where the Singapore Mass Rapid
Transit (SMRT) has been named the most
energy-efficient metro in the world – with such innovations as escalators that
stop moving when not in use and an inversion technology that recovers and
recycles excess energy from braking trains. Established in 1987, the Singapore
metro runs trains on four lines
servicing 131 stations. Its tracks, which cover 175.3km total, are ridden by
about 2.4 million people each day.
oldest metro in the world, though, is the London Underground, which opened in
1863. The Tube is in the middle of celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, with
history-focused events and activities taking place at Covent Garden’s London Transport Museum throughout 2013. With
250 miles of track, 11 subway lines, 270 stations and around three million
passengers each day, the Tube is one of the largest underground
railway systems in the world.
Meanwhile, one of the world’s
most impressive subway systems is the Tokyo Metro, which caters to an
incredible 8.6 million passengers each day while maintaining a far-reaching reputation for efficiency. The metro began running in 1927
and has since grown to encompass nine lines, 168 stations and 320km of track. When it comes to comfort, though, Tokyo’s crowded
trains are surpassed by the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, which has been around
since 1974. Carrying nearly seven million passengers each day on nine lines and 327km of track, the
Seoul subway has climate-controlled train cars with mobile phone reception,
wireless internet and televisions. In the winter, riders can even look forward
to heated seats.
You won’t find much need for heated seats in Brazil,
where the São Paulo
Metro has become one of the most ridden subway systems in South America since
its launch in 1974. Its five lines span 74.2km of track and carry around 4.4 million passengers each day to 64 stations. It is Chile however,
that has the continent’s most extensive underground system, with the Santiago
Metro covering 108 stations and 103km of railway on five
lines. However, the Santiago Metro, which opened in 1975, carries fewer
passengers than its Brazilian counterpart, with 2.3 million people riding
It may be difficult to believe, but in all of Africa,
only two cities have subway systems: Algiers, which just launched its metro at
the end of 2011, and Cairo, where the subway has been around since 1987. Nearly
four million people ride the Cairo Metro each day, a network stretching out
over 69.8km of track and servicing 57 stations. The subway only has two lines, though,
and is currently working on building a third. The Cairo Metro is much larger
than the Algiers Metro, which consists of one line, carrying around
300,000 riders each day to just 10 stations via 9.2km of track.
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