Top ten cities with best public transit systems

These ten public transportation systems, in random rather than top-to-bottom order, are among the world’s best. The transit systems profiled here include some of the most impressively massive as well as some of the best-scaled urban transportation systems. Today’s focus is on international public transit systems; as such, the better US public transit systems (New York, Chicago, and Portland, among others) are not included.

1. Curitiba, Brazil. The capital of Brazil’s southern Paraná province has a widely emulated public transportation system consisting exclusively of buses running on dedicated lanes, all of which utilize bus shelters (see above). The system prizes simplicity. There is a single price for tickets. The network is estimated to be used by a remarkable 85% of the population.

2. Moscow, Russia. If you take the metro to work in Moscow, you don’t really have an excuse for being late. The sheer reliability and frequency of Moscow’s metro system makes it among the world’s best. The city’s metro system also features a number of ornately beautiful stations. Some stand-out stations include Mayakovskaya, Kiyevskaya, and Kropotkinskaya.

3. Vienna, Austria. Vienna’s public transportation system is a favorite for tourists in part due to its iconic red streetcars, which have become a symbol of the city. The city’s five U-Bahn (subway) lines join 30 streetcar lines and over 80 bus lines in blanketing the city with transit options.

4. Hong Kong. The public transportation system in this crowded metropolis absorbs most of its residents’ transportation needs. Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway takes the lion’s share of traffic. Fares are paid via a smart card known as an Octopus Card, which can be used to charge transactions in all sorts of non-transit venues.

5. Munich, Germany. Bavaria’s biggest city boasts a very comprehensive multi-pronged public transportation system, which consists of an U-Bahn (subway), S-Bahn (commuter rail), an inner-city tram network, and buses. Munich’s transit systems is efficient and its range is broad.6. Seoul, South Korea. The famously user-friendly public transportation system is centered on an integrated metro-bus system. It’s very contemporary throughout and extremely useable for visitors, with English language announcements and Wi-Fi access soon to be rolled out on subway trains.

7. London, United Kingdom. The Tube is pilloried by many who ride it on a daily basis, and in fact has a number of structural problems that render certain lines slow and not particularly user-friendly. At the same time, it has an awe-inspiring range. London is also well-served by buses, a light rail, and ferries for cross-Thames travel.

8. Paris, France. Parisians benefit from a multi-level public transportation system: the Métro (subway), commuter train (RER), bus, and the tram system. The most recent addition to the transportation system is a tramway covering the city’s periphery. Paris boasts an incredible density of underground stations.

9. Copenhagen, Denmark. The Danish capital’s highly regarded public transportation system includes a driverless metro network. The metro’s two lines are fully automated and run 24 hours a day. A major metro extension is due to debut in 2018. Buses and commuter trains fill in the blanks.

10. Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo’s public transportation system includes a subway network, light rail lines, and bus lines. The system features enormous numbers of riders, high-tech displays, and remarkably user-friendly features throughout. The subway system is also incredibly clean, and as such stands apart from most other well-used public transportation systems.

(Image: xander76 / Flickr)

Where to plan your next environmentally vacation: 15 green cities

The good folks at Grist put together their own list of 15 green cities. Although their thought was probably to showcase the green efforts made by local governments and locals to make the cities more environmentally friendly, in reading it I realized it was a great list of places to chose your next eco-vacation.

If you’re looking to take public transportation, play in parks and learn more about sustainability as part of your next vacation, here are the 15 cities that made the list:

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland
  2. Portland, OR, U.S.
  3. Curitiba, Brazil
  4. Malmö, Sweden
  5. Vancouver, Canada
  6. Copenhagen, Denmark
  7. London, England
  8. San Francisco, CA, USA
  9. Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador
  10. Sydney, Australia
  11. Barcelona, Spain
  12. Bogotá, Colombia
  13. Bangkok, Thailand
  14. Kampala, Uganda
  15. Austin, TX, USA

Some of the selections surprised me; Bangkok for example, but apparently it’s all about the city’s strategy to make things greener. Check out the full list with accompanying explanations here.

What green cities have you visited?