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London Tube vs New York’s Subway – Which is more Tourist Friendly?

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I travel a lot and am a frequent user of London’s Underground train network, also known as the Tube and its New York counterpart, the Subway.

Whenever I use these transport systems, I am struck by their similarities as well as dissimilarities.Both define their cities. If the Tube or the Subway’s services are disrupted, then thousands of offices and office workers are affected.


ImageThe Tube carries  more than a billion passengers a year, with three and a half million journeys (A to B), made each day, with 11 lines servicing 270 stations.

New York’s Subway has even more awesome stats:  1.65 billion passengers in 2012, 5.4 million journeys on weekdays, 468 stations and 24 subway lines.

Subway Stations are generally have an ‘industrial’ design, dim lighting, with girders, trunking, and the MTA’s subway cars have those gleaming silver/aluminum looks.

Tube stations have a lot of white in them, a lot of tiles, white lights and the trains reflect that style.


Subway’s trains are larger than the Tube’s, more space inside and importantly, are air conditioned! Anyone who travels by Tube in the summer will give an arm and a leg for air-conditioning.




Naturally, natives of each city will prefer their local transit system, however which transit system will a tourist prefer?


I believe the Tube is more tourist and visitor friendly:

Brightly lit stations. That white light gives a huge comforting factor.

Maps  – Tube stations have a lot of maps of the network all over the place. In contrast, the Subway’s stations have a meager amount.

Attendants – I see more attendants pacing busy Tube stations than at Subway stations

Day Travelcards – This is a neat fare on the London Tube that enables a visitor to travel on the Tube, bus,  Docklands Light Railway, as many times a day, for a day. Travelcards can also be bought for 7 days. This is wildly useful for visitors since for just one transaction they can buy unlimited rides for the day.

Unfortunately the Subway’s Metrocard has nothing similar to the Tube Day Travelcard. It has a 7 day Metrocard which is similar to the 7 day Tube’s 7 day Travelcard, but no PACKAGED fare that allows unlimited rides for the day. A visitor will have to buy a Metrocard and top it up on a pay-per-ride basis for a day’s use. In my opinion this makes the packaging of fares less attractive as compared to the Tube.

So there you are…if you are a first time visitor making a decision to visit either London or New York on the sole (and highly unlikely!) basis of the more-user-friendly underground rail system, then it has to be London!


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