Travel Back Thursday: Washington, D.C. Metro On Opening Day

WMATA

I don’t know about you, but Thursday afternoons are when my weekend plans start to take shape. And tomorrow, after my laptop is shut down and I exchange my button-down for a t-shirt, I’ll be heading in to D.C. for the evening by way of the Metro, alongside countless others. The same scenario will undoubtedly play out in every other major city with a subway-esque train system.

The Washington Metro opened its doors in March of 1976. Today’s photo shows people waiting in line at the Rhode Island Avenue station for a free Metro ride on opening day, March 27. In the near future, Northern Virginia residents will experience another “opening day line” as Metro opens the first phase of the Silver Line route.

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Forget Tickets, Get On Public Transportation With A Ring

Sesame Ring

While public transportation can be a godsend while traveling, losing your public transportation pass or ticket is not. We’ve all misplaced our bus or metro pass at least a few times in life, and no matter where you are in the world the feeling is always the same.

That changes now.

Thanks to some very intelligent engineering students at MIT, there’s a new device that may forever solve the problem of misplaced transit cards: the Sesame Ring. Built with an embedded RFID tag, it allows you to simply tap to an RFID-based fare reader and get on board. Genius.

Sesame Ring

The ring currently works with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority in the Boston area, but with the technology that the group has developed there’s no limit to how it could potentially be used. Just imagine a ring that you could re-program for any transit system wherever you are. Now that is smart.

For more details, check out the Kickstarter page for the project.

Baby On Board: Babies Born In Train Stations

MTA train station baby
MTA Police Department

Last week, the hashtag #MetroBaby was trending after a Washington, D.C. woman gave birth to a baby boy on a Metro platform. Despite many humorous suggestions for the baby’s name (my favorites: Stan Clear and Doris Closing), Amir Mason was born a few weeks early and delivered safely.

Yesterday, New York got its own Metro Baby when police helped deliver a baby boy in Penn Station. On her way home from a doctor’s appointment and waiting for a Long Island Rail Road train, the mother was overcome with labor pains and taken to the police station office inside the train station. Paramedics from St. Luke’s Hospital were on hand to deliver baby Oscar, and assisting MTA Officer Melissa DeFrancsco noted, “It was awesome.”

The D.C. Metro baby got a train-themed gift basket and $100 transit card from the agency. The New York MTA is presumably still picking out a card.

Are train station babies a new trend? What station is likely to be next? I’d vote for somewhere like London‘s airy and renovated St. Pancras station, with plenty of restaurants and shops, a luxury hotel, and an easy hop to Paris by Eurostar.

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Metro In Saudi Arabia?

Alan Light, Flickr

If you live in a cosmopolitan city with a good subway system, it can be easy to take your public transportation for granted. Many of the world’s most famous subway systems have been around for decades, and most of us have forgotten the price and political willpower it took to put them in place.

Building a completely new metro or subway system nowadays isn’t only a longterm commitment, it’s a large financial one. Saudi Arabia is the latest place to jump on board the public transportation train. So how much does it cost to build a Saudi Arabian metro? $22 billion apparently. That’s the number attached to the new system proposed for the capital city of Riyadh. Construction will begin next year and trains should be running by 2019.The design alone is a major cost — one of the main stations will be done by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid — not to mention the construction and other expenses. But investing in infrastructure is smart, even in oil-rich countries of the Middle East. As the president of the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) Ibrahim bin Mohammed al Sultan said, the project will be “a major driver of employment and economic development.”

But how does the cost of the new metro system compare to others around the world? Two years ago Africa’s second metro opened up in Algiers, and came in at a final price of only $1.2 billion. But in the Western World, that doesn’t cover a whole lot. In Singapore, the new Circle Line which runs 22 miles, cost $4.8 billion. In New York City the Second Avenue subway line is projected at over $17 billion — and that’s just one line. Meanwhile in Paris, $39 billion is being spent to build 200 kilometers of new metro lines with 72 stations in and around Paris. How long does that take? The project should be finished by 2030. That makes 2019 seem like it’s just around the corner.

Love French Wine? You’ll Love the French Wine Metro Map

There’s something about the design of subway maps, and not just for plotting metro lines across cities.

For those looking to master French wine regions, look no further. Combining the simplicity of the Paris metro map and the complexity of France’s numerous wine regions, De Long Wine has made a map that makes all of the French wine regions seem as close as a short metro ride.

Of course, if you want to visit all of them, you’ll have to do a little more planning than that, but it’s a fun way of learning about where all of the French wines come from. And that there’s more to le vin français than just Bordeaux.

Frame the 18×24 print, hang it on your wall and start planning your next French wine adventure.

[Via: The Paris Kitchen]