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Nobody likes giving up control over their transportation. You remember subways for all the times there was a delayed train that made you late to work. You remember the buskers asking for change. You remember the drunk kids pushing each other and throwing up on the platform.
Some metro lines, though, are less than horrible. Clean, efficient, and convenient enough to work as viable daily transport. If every city had subways as good as these, people wouldn't need to drive so much. And when people don't need to drive so much, there are fewer traffic jams. And when there are fewer traffic jams and morons on the road, there's more space for sports cars and driving for pleasure.
Take a note and wish that where you lived had a subway as nice as any one of these.
Photo Credit: Andrew Griffith
For its size, Barcelona has a fairly comprehensive metro system, but it's not the size or coverage that gets us excited. No, at one of its larger stations, there's an underground mall. Next to this mall is a sporting complex and in this sporting complex is an indoor kart track! How many other subway systems can you name that have underground racetracks in them?
Pros: Pyongyang's subway system is clean, beautiful, and deeper than any other in the world (stations are about 360 feet underground).
Cons: It's in North Korea.
The subway cars are a bit old, but the lines are comprehensive and logical. The cars all have rubber tires, and each station has a different design by a local artist. Very cool.
Like the subway in Pyongyang, Moscow's subway is deep, deep underground (you never know when us crazy Americans might nuke'm) and its stations are freaking gorgeous. Unlike the subway in Pyongyang, Moscow is not in North Korea. That makes Moscow's subway infinitely better.
New York City has a kind of f-you subway. The map is incomprehensible to beginners, the switches and rails are all worn out, the stations are grimy and have rats, and the cars get totally overcrowded. For all of its flaws, it covers an absolutely massive metro area and runs all day, every day. It sucks, but it works.
Everybody loves the Underground because it is 1) extremely classy and 2) it served as a huge bomb shelter during The War. London's subway does provide good coverage for the city, with reliable operations and a great smartcard system.
The MTR is clean, efficient, and easy to understand. You won't get lost in it, which is saying something for a huge subway system of its kind.
Ah, the romance of Paris: people jumping in front of trains and dogs shitting on the platforms. Really, the Métro is a classic that still works. If you can't love it, you have no soul.
Tokyo's subway is a pristine and orderly masterpiece. Nobody is allowed to eat anywhere or talk on their cell phones and the trains are punctual to the second. It makes the Métro and the NYC subway look like smelly shitholes.
If you thought Tokyo had a picture of perfection subway, wait until you ride the Seoul underground. You have the same cleanliness and composure, as well as totally comprehensive coverage that is surprisingly intuitive. You'll figure the whole thing out in a week. The entire edge of the tracks in many stations are walled off with glass so nobody can fall in, which just makes the whole thing feel more like it's from the future.