Tuesday, July 19, 2016

An unfair comparison of the Shanghai Subway and the Washington Metro

I'm just back from a trip to Shanghai. Short version, the subway is amazing! I was staying primarily in the old French Concession area of the city and was able to use the subway for quick and easy short and long trips.

With over 365 miles of track, 364 stations and daily ridership of over 8.4 million, it is simply a wonder. (Wikipedia). The subway opened in 1993 (so has the benefit of being merely 20+ years old) and covers an extensive area. In the downtown area, the stations were all very close together, trains came very rapidly (within minutes even in off peak hours). Transfers were quick and easy, navigation sites within the vast stations was ridiculously easy (large arrows on the floor that guided you step-by-step).

Oh, and it was cheap (at least by my standards), with most rides costing only 45 cents (and I didn't get the frequent rider card).

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Contrast that with our current 40 year old Washington Metro system. This is a particularly bad time for a comparison with any system since Metro is currently operating under SafeTrack which is basically a service slowdown to keep people from dying during their ride.

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As a lost note, wow! An actual practical real-world Maglev train! Shanghai offers  the Shanghai Maglev Train from the Pudong International Airport to an area near downtown (the Longyang Road Station where you can transfer to the regular Shanghai subway). The train covers the nearly 19 miles from the airport in a zippy 8 minutes and costs around $6.00. The train hit about 301/kph on my ride, but hit can go as fast at 350/kpm.
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