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Thread: Cities with the best public trans

  1. #1
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    Cities with the best public trans

    If this has been talked about before, please let me know I'm curious as to what a lot of you have to say about this.

    Ok here goes:

    Poll Question: Which cities are best as far as public transportation is concerned? i.e. efficiency and promptness among other things.

  2. #2

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    NYC and Chicago get my vote. The whole "North Station - South Station" debacle in Boston earns it my vote for worst transit in a major city. Oh wait, Detroit, home of the Auto Industry is DEFINITELY the worst... Of course its not really a major city anymore.

  3. #3
    maudit anglais
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    Well, IMHO "best" is a pretty subjective category. Transit systems evolve to serve the area they are located in, and are subject to a variety of forces (often beyond their control) that impact how well they operate.

    I'll put in a plug for Toronto of course, but I'm not sure if it could be considered one of the best in the world - North America certainly though.

    The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) currently recovers about 82% of it's operating costs through the farebox - that's the highest in North America. It's won numerous awards for passenger and system safety (marred of course by a subway crash in 1995 which killed 3 people). The TTC has struggled over the past decade though, primarily due to lack of funding. The result is lower maintenance, less cleaning, and older vehicles (we still run a great number of GM "New Looks" - most of which are over 18 years old). Ridership has declined from about 450 million rides/year to about 410 million rides/year over the same period. There is renewed hope though with the election of a new pro-transit mayor, a new provincial government, and a change in leadership at the Federal level.

    Toronto's regional transit system (GO Transit ) is also very successful - lack of funding though has limited its growth.

    My weakness is streetcars - Toronto maintained its streetcar system when most other North American cities abandoned theirs after WWII. Here's a shot I took this morning during a site visit:


  4. #4
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    The best north american city? Chicago gets my vote, but I might think differently if i lived there. Aside from that i think NJTransit is the winner. Not the whole state of course - North Jersey - the Newark, Hoboken, Jersey City area and surrounding suburbs.

    Def. not Philly. Just kidding. I would say, actually, that we probably have the best regional rail system in the country.
    In New York City - NJTransit and LIRR share Penn Station but if you wan't to go to northern suburbs it's 20 blocks to get to Grand Central Station for the Metro-North Trains. In Chicago it's a similar situation. Boston, of course, has there North/South Station. In Philly every one of the 13 rail lines passes through 4 of the center city rail stations. The bus system is extensive but certain lines are only every 20 minutes during the day. The subway/trolley system misses huge sections of the city.

    New York has a great subway system but in the outer boroughs it's often quite a walk to the nearest station. Subway rides from Brooklyn can often take an hour or more - forget about Queens.
    In Manhattan trying to go "crosstown can be very frustrating as can intra-borough trips in Brooklyn and Queens. The bus service is like a blanket but ridiculously slow.

    DC's Metro is certainly the nicest i've ever seen but it seems confused. It doesn't know whether it's a commuter rail or a subway. The stations are ridiculously far apart within the city limits. I think it handles the commuter aspect much better.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Originally posted by MaineMan
    The whole "North Station - South Station" debacle in Boston earns it my vote for worst transit in a major city.
    I've never actually lived or worked in a city with public transit, but I used to visit Beantown (aka Boston) quite a bit. I always found "The T" (Boston subway system) easy to use. I could get anywhere I wanted to easily on it.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Originally posted by SGB
    I've never actually lived or worked in a city with public transit, but I used to visit Beantown (aka Boston) quite a bit. I always found "The T" (Boston subway system) easy to use. I could get anywhere I wanted to easily on it.
    The North station-South station gap is not really a problem for the T as much as it is for commuter rail and amtrak. If you want to take amtrak from DC to Portland, ME for example, you'd have to get out at South Station in Boston and take a cab or walk the 1.5 miles to North Station to get the trains that go north. Pretty poor planning. They would like to build an underground tunnel to connect the two stations, but Boston screwed itself out of any more federal transport money since the Big Dig has been waaaaay over budget.

    For best transit, I'd say NYC wins hands-down. I lived in DC and liked the metro system, but it hasn't keep pace withe fast growing exurbs there. SF seemed to have an OK mix of buses, trams and the BART. I think Seattle has to be the worst.... they have nothing and are crippled by an inefficient bus system and awful freeway traffic.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian El Feo's avatar
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    Originally posted by Greenescapist
    The North station-South station gap is not really a problem for the T as much as it is for commuter rail and amtrak. If you want to take amtrak from DC to Portland, ME for example, you'd have to get out at South Station in Boston and take a cab or walk the 1.5 miles to North Station to get the trains that go north. Pretty poor planning.
    You can also take the T. Red line at South Station to Park Street, change to Green Line, off at North Station.

    I think the North-South gap "problem" is waaaaaaaaaayyy overblown.

    However, don't consider this a vote for Boston - my vote goes to Chicago.
    "The fanatical Muslims despise America because it's all lapdancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it's all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it's controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too Godless, America is also too isolationist, except when it's too imperialist." -- Mark Steyn

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    Takin' The Train

    Based on my personal experience [perhaps not as extensive as some] would be New York @ #1 and I would give the Bay Area some high marks with the extensions of BART, light rail in San Jose and commuter rail on the Peninsula.

  9. #9
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Re: Takin' The Train

    Originally posted by Miles Ignatius
    I would give the Bay Area some high marks with the extensions of BART, light rail in San Jose and commuter rail on the Peninsula.
    ...with ferry service from SF to Marin and the East Bay. I used to ride the ferries from Larkspur in Marin to SF and it was great.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Denver - RTD

    PATH - Port Authority Trans Hudson
    between NJ and NY

    NJ Transit SkyTrain
    between Newark Airport and Newark Penn Station
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    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
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  11. #11

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    ...with ferry service from SF to Marin and the East Bay. I used to ride the ferries from Larkspur in Marin to SF and it was great.
    For sheer beauty, the ultimate transit commute. My sister did this regularly for a while.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    It has been awhile but I love NYC's public transit. Aside from DC and NYC, I haven't experience many American public transit systems. I have good experiences in London and Zurich.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
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    Best: Moscow (Russia), NYC and Chicago tied as US winners (the only 2 cities with all night service - and that's a must!!).
    Worst: Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis (the last one might change after light rail starts operating in the spring of 2004).

  14. #14
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    This is a difficult comparison because varying factors, population, age of system, size of system, etc.

    I have really only used Bostons, NY, and London.... all three worked great for me... the last time I used the Boston system it was particularly clean.. .but this was also during the 100th running of the Marathon... they probably cleaned everything up for the event.

    I live about 2 miles from a train station...(suburbs) so I use public trans when I can. I can be in midtown in 45 minutes which is better than driving. NYC works great... I just wish the last train home was a bit later than 1:20am..... missing the last train home is a nightmare......sad to say I know from experience.
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I'm with tranplanner, I love riding the streetcar in Toronto. When I'm there and have time I'll ride the queen from one end to the other and get off if I see something interesting.

    tsc, waiting with the winos at the port authority bus station at 3:30am not fun? It has been a real eye opener for me the few times I've done it.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    I've been happy with any kinds of non-automobile transit systems except bus systems (because I can never figure out their schedule). I've used the Skytrain in Vancouver, BC, the Metro in Montreal, the Rocket (Subway/TTC) in Toronto, the Tube (subway) in London, and the metro in Paris.

    Montreal is nice because there's no squeaky noise as the tires are made of rubber! There's a bunch of different lines, covering the built up area not the outliers (which are covered by the regional train lines).

    Vancouver is interesting for its Skytrain and skybus (actually a boat!). Both very easy to use. I've only used them a few times.

    The Rocket in Toronto is very convenient, but it's too bad that they're having trouble to increase their users capacity. They recently opened up a new line that goes nowhere because it's only partially done - kinda useless, I think. Should have built it all the way to the other end, so that there is better use and function of it.

    There are so many stations in the Paris' metro system, that I can't really complain about their proximity and spread throughout the city. Some trains are rougher and older than others, but that's not worth complaining...

    And I love the subway system in London! So convenient, so many stations, so easy to use, so extensive! I can go from the Heahtrow International Airport to Central London in about 50 minutes, using only one line. So extensive in Central London and goes into the outliers very well. Excellent connections to other rail stations. I actually miss it, including the cute lil' map of the tube!!!

    Anyways that's what I can contribute...

  17. #17
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    I found that Munich Germany has the best I have used of the cities I have been to.

    http://www.munich-info.de/travel/mvv_de.html
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

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    I would have to say that Boston's public transportation is really inefficient and does a disservice to those riders who will have to pay an increase in fares for a system that is infrequent in travel times, inefficient in getting people to their destinations, and by far offers the worst service. Its beyond me how they can raise fares when all that will do is drive people to their vehicles and decrease ridership thus making the public transportation even more obsolete....Boston sucks when it comes to public transportation!!! New York was convenient and efficient. Seattle's public transportation is definitely non-existent. I've heard great things about Portland and Dallas. But Boston needs to its self together..it is terrible..and I still ride it everyday to work. Yikes!!!!

  19. #19
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Originally posted by spitfly79
    I would have to say that Boston's public transportation is really inefficient and does a disservice to those riders who will have to pay an increase in fares for a system that is infrequent in travel times, inefficient in getting people to their destinations, and by far offers the worst service....
    Interesting. My brother just went to Boston for the first time to visit his girlfriend's parents and came back raving about the rail system. They apparently live close to a stop and they went everywhere on the system, never using a car.

    Although, I guess since he lives in Tallahassee he does not have much to compare it to.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  20. #20
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    I've only been on a few transit systems in my lifetime.

    Omaha (my hometown) - fractured bus system at best. Don't g get caught after 10PM without a ride home.

    Baltimore (where I live now) - too expensive for little to no service. Only 1 subway line. 1 light rail line. And a very poor bus system that still follows archaic streetcar patterns.

    Chicago - pretty comprehensive but can be very cumbersome. I was my experience you can't take the Red Line from the Clark Street/Broadway area on the North Side area to O'Hare directly. I had to get on a bus to go west, then pick up the train to go to O'Hare. Also very filthy. The only clean stations were O'Hare and Wrigley.

    Washington - The cleanest system I've ever seen including the buses. However there are no crosstown-like suburb to suburb rail lines. You can't go from Bethesda to Silver Spring without going downtown first.

    NYC - It goes everywhere. From an outsider's point of view it's just as confusing sometimes. I have to remember express trains are in the middle.

    Atlanta - A poor replication of Washington even uses the same model of subway cars.
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  21. #21
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    Originally posted by H
    Although, I guess since he lives in Tallahassee he does not have much to compare it to.
    Tallahassee's is really bad. I would not recommend it at all.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Originally posted by Trail Nazi
    Tallahassee's is really bad. I would not recommend it at all.
    I didn’t.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  23. #23
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    favorite Euro systems for big cities are London and Barcelona I like the rubber wheeled paris metro but the stops were too close together. The trips took forever and some of the "transfers" between lines were ridiculously far. Barcelona has the alternating male/female anouncements - of course now they're all in Catalan - and for some reason "Proxim estacio - Diagonal" is still stuck in my head.

    My favorite smaller city systems are Geneva and Montpellier.
    Montpellier is building an excellent lightrail system and Geneva already has one. As well all of their buses run like the light rail cars with stops every quarter mile or so. It's also completely POP - but no one ever asks for your ticket.

    US small city systems, I don't know too many of them but I give Charlotte a thumbs up. Harrisburg is OK too.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    yeah right

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Yes, but you can take a bus from Bethesda to Silver Spring. In fact that bus line is the most heavily used suburban bus line in the region. Why is it that people don't realize that their are busses?

    Originally posted by the north omaha star


    Washington - The cleanest system I've ever seen including the buses. However there are no crosstown-like suburb to suburb rail lines. You can't go from Bethesda to Silver Spring without going downtown first.


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