NYC Transit Uses Technology from 1930s, While London Spending Billions to Modernize

Public transport can make or break your visit to any city. It’s a way for travelers to get a sense of the day to day life in a city. More than anything, it’s cheap and practical.

New York Times shed a light, albeit an antique gas lamp, on the struggling infrastructure of the subways. The headline is that it uses technology that dates back to the 1930s to switch tracks. Scary? Yes. Cool? You know it. It’s amazing that it still works … for now.

The theme of the story is that more dire repairs and upgrades are put off, the more it was cost later on. Any day, a catastrophic breakdown could cripple passengers. Enjoy your stay, travelers!

As a native New York, the subway is by and far the worst I’ve encounter among 30+ countries I’ve visited. If you’re coming from outside, it’s maddeningly confusing trying to figure out what line goes where and which is local or express. Although, the one cost to go everywhere eases the frustration. In actuality, it’s what’s under funding the system.

For locals, constantly trying to swipe your flimsy card to get through the gates is the bane of our existence. Especially considering that touch pads are being used by other transit authorities.

Speaking of which, London’s system is light years ahead in modernizing their system, at a significant cost. While locals have to deal with their struggles on a daily basis during rush hour chaos, I just adore it.

First, it’s simple to figure out. The Oyster card is simple to just lay down on a touchpad, but I still haven’t figure out the pricing scheme between zones. I do know if you ride it long enough during the day, it eventually becomes unlimited.

As the NY Times story points out, London commuters like to be left alone, while New York’s mixture of locals and tourists makes it like a zoo of clashing personalities. And you won’t find a pizza rat in the London system.

In the end, it’s going to take a monumental effort for NY to get to the efficiency of the London system. On the other hand, they shouldn’t be comparable due to size, traffic and timing. London mostly shuts down at 12:30am, while NYC runs all night.

My favorite subway/tube system? Hong Kong. Incredibly cheap (.35 a ride), clean, straightforward, comfortable and fun to ride.