I've traveled to many large cities around the world and have always been fascinated each city's public transportation system -- particularly the metro. From the raised platforms that make up Chicago's 'L' and snake through the city to the famous "gap minding" announcements on London's Tube to the ornate and palatial underground stations of Moscow, most cities have distinct metro systems to call their own.
Below are a few of my favorite metros that I've been to for one reason or another (in no particular order):
Being my home public transportation system, of course the 'L' is one of my favorite metro systems. It's convenient, easy to use and rarely fails to get me from A to B. Though many (okay, most) of the stations are complete eyesores, it wouldn't be Chicago without seeing and feeling a train pass above your head.
- Nicknamed the 'L' because a good portion of the system is elevated.
- Opened in 1892.
- There are 8 lines, named by color, with 144 stations and 103 miles of track.
- 2 of the lines run 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
"Doors closing. Belmont is next. Doors open on the right at Belmont. Transfer to Brown and Purple lines at Belmont."
(And for those of us who live here, you never want to hear: "Your attention please, we are being delayed waiting for signals ahead. We expect to be moving shortly. Thank you for riding the CTA Red line.")
London's Underground is the first metro I rode outside of the U.S. It's amazingly clean and it's many stations mean minimal walk-time above ground.
- Nicknamed the Tube.
- Opened in 1863, making it the world's first metro.
- There are 11 lines, with 268 stations and 253 miles of track.
"Mind the gap."
Living in Ukraine, I've ridden Kyiv's Metro almost as much as I've ridden Chicago's. The stations are incredible in size and clean; the system is convenient and easy to navigate; and the fare is incredibly cheap. Though the escalators are among the fastest I've ever been on (my mom was terrified of them), it can often take 2 minutes or longer to arrive in the deep stations.
- The central stations were built to double as bomb shelters. Arsenalna, is one of the deepest in the world at 102 meters (335 feet).
- Opened 1960.
- There are 3 lines with 43 stations and 37 miles of track.
"Обережно, дверi зачиняються. Наступна станцiя Арсенальна ("Caution, the doors are closing. Next stop, Arsenalna").
Moscow has some of the most beautiful stations in the world. They were built to be "palaces for the people," with marble-lined walls, chandeliers and cathedral-like ceilings.
- Second most heaviest used metro system.
- Opened in 1935.
- There are 12 lines with 144 stations and 186 miles of track.
"Осторожно, двери закрываются. Следующая станция Фрунзенская. (Caution, the doors are closing. Next stop, Frunzenskaya.")
Though probably confusing for out-of-towners, New York's Subway is relatively easy and convenient. You haven't been to New York if you haven't ridden the subway.
- Opened in 1904.
- There are 27 lines, named by letter, with 422 stations and 229 miles of track.
- 20 lines run 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
"Stand clear of the closing doors, please."
I cannot read or speak Chinese, so Beijing's subway was daunting at first (though audio messages are in both Mandarin Chinese and English, I couldn't decipher the stations). After a few rides, I was able to figure it out. It's one of my favorite systems because of how clean and modern the trains and stations are.
- Opened in 1971.
- There are 9 lines, named by number, with 125 stations and 141 miles of track.
- Ridership rose by 75% in 2008 to 1.2 billion.