Saturday, 28 May 2011

New York Subway or London Underground?

NYC Subway 7 Day unlimited travel $29.00 USD
London Underground 7 Day unlimited travel (zones 1&2) £27.30 GBP

I was away in New York last week for a graduation with the family and while I was there I spent some time riding around on the subway.

I love cities with public transport. In some ways it seems like a novelty to me coming from Minneapolis. Minneapolis does have a decent bus and more recent light rail system, but no one really aspires to public transport there. You ride the bus if you don't have a car, you work in downtown or you're a tree hugger. If you're really a tree hugger then you'll usually be riding a bike....

I used to ride the bus before I had a car and can clearly remember my first rides. The first bus trip going out to Southdale mall and of course getting on going the wrong way, riding it out to the middle of nowhere and having to turn around and ride it all the way back in the opposite direction, those were the days.

I ride the tube everyday here and for the most part it's good. I used to have a pretty easy straightforward journey to my previous job at WAX. Now working at LBi I am going over to East London. It takes me about 45 mins door to door. I've got two ways I can get there.

I can take the Victoria line from Brixton up to Oxford Circus, change there and then take the Central line to Liverpool Street. The benefit of this journey is that since Brixton is the first stop on I always get a seat. Sitting down first thing in the morning is pretty nice. It's usually crowded on the Central Line, meaning I have to stand, but it's not too super crowded. This route is a longer and it can sometimes be crowded in Liverpool Street station. Meaning lots of people trying to get out at the same time, while wandering round getting in my way. 

Or, I can get on at Brixton take the Victoria line up one stop and change for the Northern line at Stockwell. I then take the Northern line all the way up to Moorgate, get out there and then walk about 5 extra minutes. Moorgate is just behind Liverpool Street station. 

The journey is quicker by far, but the Northern line is sooooo crowded. I mean like you fight your way onto the train and spend the journey with your face in someone's armpit. I think I've only got a seat once in the past 2 months and that was when there was only one stop left before I got out. 

It's not pleasant. Being that crowded means being stuffed in with a lot of other people who also aren't very happy about having their bodies pressed up against strangers. Most people look miserable and it's usually pretty hot.

So, when I was in New York I rode the subway around and let me tell you...the subway has nothing on the London Underground. I was thinking about this as I was coming home on the extremely HOT Victoria line last night. 

The subway in New York is nasty. It's dirty and grim and it's just like a hole in the ground with trains. At night it feels a bit rough and ready. I also found it not as straightforward to use as the Underground. I can look at the Underground map and know exactly which direction the train is going to be heading. I am sure if I lived in New York I'd get the hang of it, but I missed the tube big time.

I missed the classical music playing at the stations, the escalators, the adverts, the little shops, the Metro, Stylist and Evening Standard and how clean the underground is. 

I do have to say in the subway's favour that I do like the fact that it runs all night, the trains are bigger and AIR CONDITIONED! You might swelter for a bit on the platform, but the minute you step on the train you're hit with that sweet cooled air. I also get a kick out of seeing pay phones on the platform. 

I wouldn't be a Londoner if I didn't moan about the Underground, but secretly I love it. Sorry New York subway London wins this one!

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