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Heavy Rail Mass Transit | North America

What is the Best Subway in North America?   262 members have voted

  1. 1. What is the Best Subway in North America?

    • Atlanta
      15
    • Baltimore
      2
    • Boston
      22
    • Chicago
      11
    • Washington DC
      72
    • Mexico City
      3
    • Miami
      4
    • Montreal
      7
    • New York City
      99
    • Philadelphia
      2
    • San Francisco
      12
    • Toronto
      10
    • Vancouver
      3

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70 posts in this topic

Topic to compare and contrast the various heavy rail transit systems in North America. Which is your favorite. Please consider:

  • Ease of Use

  • Station Design

  • Ridership

  • Train Sets

  • Frequency

  • Speed

  • Cost

  • Safety

This thread is limited to heavy rail

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I won't comment on all the aspects, but I picked Washington DC. It's not the most comprehensive system on the list, but its one of the best. NYC clearly has the edge as far as comprehensiveness. What sets DC apart is how easy it easy to find your way around on the system. It's easily the most thoughtful, well-marked, etc, heavy rail system I've been on. Add to that the fact that it is extremely useful as well, and I think its the best quality system we have.

Other standouts:

LA (not on the poll; is it not HRT?)- The nicest stations I've seen. Lots of artwork, and each station is unique.

NYC - Clearly the most useful, comprehensive system, it's just so mind-boggling to look at, at least until you're familiar with it.

Chicago and Boston - These are really the only 2 other comprehensive systems in the country. I like how gritty and "big-city" Chicago's "el" feels.

Miami - yeah... I know it sucks... but it has a stop at U-Miami, and was incredibly useful for me for 4 years.

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Because of the layout of DC I find it to be one of the most simple Rail systems in the nation, bur clearly I believe NYC gets you nearly anywhere you need to be, and I would wonder the ridership it has, compared to other local systems.

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For me its probably DC, thought there are are a couple of notible stations in Atlanta that I like.

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In terms of most qualifiers - I would consider NYC the best based primarily on being able to go anywhere at most times of the day in NYC. But Washington - for a city it's size has a highly comparable system, additionally it has 'newness' to benefit it.

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I had to go with DC myself. Most of the obvious comments have been stated. But I concur it's probably the best pound for pound system out there.

The big thing NYC does nobody else does (I think Miami recently started) is run 24 hours. You know your a full blown 24 hour city when your subway system runs 24 hours too.

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For the record: Miami did have 24hr service running on it's Metrorail line. It was shortly after shut down due to "lack of riders". I actually used it afterhours 2 or 3 times, so don't blame me.

There's a now a bus route that mirrors the rail line to make up for it. Hardly the same though.

+1 point for trying it.

-2 for killing it so soon.

edit: "lack of riders" not lack of service. I put it in quotes, because I never saw numbers confirming that. it was just the official excuse.

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For the record:  Miami did have 24hr service running on it's Metrorail line.  It was shortly after shut down due to lack of service.  I actually used it afterhours 2 or 3 times, so don't blame me.

There's a now a bus route that mirrors the rail line to make up for it.  Hardly the same though. 

+1 point for trying it.

-2 for killing it so soon.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's disappointing. Prehaps after Miami's next round of rail expansion they will consider trying it again?

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DC beats NYC because you feel safer, it's more modern and it goes to one of the airports directly. In addition, NYC's subway system is basically designed to take you to or from Manhattan. It's very difficult to go from Brooklyn to Queens or the Bronx to Queens without going through Manhattan. Even in Manhattan, it's difficult to go cross-town, except in a one or two places. Going uptown or downtown seems to be what the various lines were meant to do.

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That's disappointing.  Prehaps after Miami's next round of rail expansion they will consider trying it again?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

We can only hope.

I think recent transit oriented development along the line and the revitalization of downtown will perhaps convince them to try again. A recent fare hike will hopefully take some of the money pressure of the system as well.

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I voted for Washington DC's because of the extent of places that it covers and the ease of use. I give it a 9/10

I do like Atlanta's, even if it isn't exactly the most thorough one out there. At least it covers many of the most important points in the city. Having said that, they need to put a line to Turner Field, it's just too long of a walk. I give it a 7/10.

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This place has a deep American slant to it I see, Toronto 2 votes, Montreal 1, Mexico City 0...These 3 cities could easily go 2,3,4 behind NY if judged fairly.

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This place has a deep American slant to it I see, Toronto 2 votes, Montreal 1, Mexico City 0...These 3 cities could easily go 2,3,4 behind NY if judged fairly.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You could be right on. Personally, I haven't voted because I'm not familiar with many of these systems.

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I have been to most of these and I voted for Washington. It is easy to use, well designed, easy to understand, basically clean, handicap accessable, safe, and comes frequently. With the addition of boards that give the time expected for arrival it is better.

New York many more trains, is very extensive, but falls down on design, safety, and cleanliness.

LA which wasn't on the list has the most interesting stations. Each one is it's on unique statement. It is also interesting on the fact that it is on a Honor System. No turnstiles, no personnel, just a sign that says no one past this point without a ticket. It is also very cheap.

Bart is very much like an older version of the DC System, but is very limited inside San Francisco itself. You would have to determine it from an Oakland perspective to be able to give it justice. The system does not have coverage that the DC system does in getting you to where you need to go.

Chicago is old, different, not very clean, and has more than its share of crazies that most other systems keep out. You go through too many areas that are like war zones and don't have security on the trains to make them feel safe. For all its quirks, I do like it. Can be very confusing with some stations that are shared with the other commuter train systems.

Philidelphia is interesting and is one of the most comprehensive. It goes everywhere that you would like, but like many older systems is confusing to tourists. Again old and the general things that go with that.

DC seems to me to have the best overall combination of them all.

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LA which wasn't on the list has the most interesting stations. Each one is it's on unique statement. It is also interesting on the fact that it is on a Honor System. No turnstiles, no personnel, just a sign that says no one past this point without a ticket. It is also very cheap.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Wait so, theres no way of knowing whether or not someone paid? Or do you have to show ticket/pay on board?

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You could be right on.  Personally, I haven't voted because I'm not familiar with many of these systems.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Neither have I. But i'm about to be familiar with Washington DC's system in a couple of weeks. From looking at the maps. It looks pretty simple.

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as an uneducated out of towner for all of them, I chose DC, LA's was cool, Chicago Dirty, New York Not much better, Didn't ride Atanta's because when i'm there, I do as the locals and drive everywhere. DC's is so asthetically pleasing, well kept, and easy to use.

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I will give it to DC. Their system seemed much more... friendly than NYC. To me, NYC's seemed like you needed to have a pre-existing knowledge of the system to ride it. But this was before the recent effort to clean it up, so that may have changed.

edit: I like Atlanta's too, but it doesn't seem to be as effective as the others.

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DC gets my vote.

Its such an extensive system, and like Spartan said it seemed more "friendly" than NYC's subway system. But New York still comes in at #2.

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Wait so, theres no way of knowing whether or not someone paid? Or do you have to show ticket/pay on board?

This is very common in Europe, especially on streetcars. I think in parts of Portland, it's on an honor system as well.

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Tough Choice between Washington D.C. and Atlanta Hartsfield Airport's Tram.

I choose ATL simply because I have never seen a mass transit system move so many people efficently and quickly anywhere else.

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