Best Public Transport Systems in the World

Efficient, effective and extensive. The best public transport systems in the world embody the three cardinal “E’s”. Happily, for the most part, “expensive” is not one of them.

Montréal, Canada

As befits a cosmopolitan city of Montréal’s stature, a well-run public transport system fills in the gaps for those wise enough to eschew both a car and life in the suburbs. The Métro de Montréal serves over 1.1 million passengers a day, on average, good enough for tops in Canada. Factor in manifold bus lines, the Bixi cycle-share programme and commuter rail service and only New York City exceeds Montréal’s public transport mix in North America in scope and per capita ridership.

Where to stay: Le Saint Sulpice Hotel Montréal

Montréal City Guide

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne’s status as the most livable city in Australia rests, in no small part, on the shoulders of a public transport scheme that includes the most prolific tram network in the world, a metro railway network, hundreds of bus lines, inter-city railway services and a popular bike-hire system. Life in the urbane capital of Victoria is lovely without a car.

Where to stay: Grand Mercure Melbourne Accor Vacation Club Apartments

Melbourne City Guide

Seoul, South Korea

The Seoul Metropolitan Subway is a behemoth and duly services over 8 million passengers a day in the manic capital of Korea. For a metropolis with close to 24 million people, the system’s hyper-efficiency, immaculate state and logistical facility blows the mind. Cheap, zippy and oh so simple to use, the subway covers some 18 lines, 328 stations and 930 km.

Where to stay: Sheraton Seoul D Cube City Hotel

Seoul City Guide

London, U.K.

The oldest underground on the planet was also the first to retrofit the entire network with Wi-Fi coverage. Ah, the power of the Olympics.

While the 2012 Summer Games did hasten the odd upgrade to London’s Tube, the foremost urban zone in the European Union makes car-free travel a carefree affair.

Where to stay: 51 Buckingham Gate Taj Suites & Residences London

London City Guide

Paris, France

A photogenic bastion of Art Nouveau, the Métropolitain of Paris has few rivals. Only Moscow’s metropoliten, on average, welcomes more passengers on the continent. The compact capital of France was not made for cars and, indeed, less than 10% of trips in Paris use a motor vehicle. Despite the fact that 4.5 million plus take the metro every day, the system is a model of accuracy. The city’s bike-hire scheme was a pioneer.

Where to stay: Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere Paris

Paris City Guide

New York City, U.S.A.

The Big Apple is a city of icons: Central Park, Wall Street, the new One World Trade Center. The New York City Subway (Helvetica font and all) is another. Only six transit systems on the planet eclipse the average ridership of the network (Beijing, Guangzhou, Moscow, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo). The stats alone boggle the brain: 5.3 million weekday rides, 468 stations, 1,355 km of track and 24/7/365 service.

The New York City Subway is far from alone, however. A passenger ferry service is a wonderful, unsung hero in Gotham’s public transport mix and a transit bus system operates 4,300 vehicles on 219 lines over the five boroughs.

Where to stay: The Setai Fifth Avenue Hotel New York City – Capella Managed Hotel

New York City Guide

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Many think of canals and bicycles when it comes to the capital of the Netherlands (ok, cannabis coffeeshops too) but the Amsterdam tramway network is surely as emblematic. The system, a city staple for over 135 years, covers Amsterdam at large and the likes of Haarlem and Zandvoort. Other than a pair of comfortable trainers or a whizz-bang Dutch-made bicycle, a tram is the best way to comb Mokum by far. A car in Amsterdam? Never!

Where to stay: Sofitel Legend Amsterdam The Grand

Amsterdam City Guide

Hong Kong

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure to use the nifty Automated People Mover at Hong Kong International and futuristic Airport Express to Central knows that Hong Kong is a public transport paragon. The city’s Mass Transit Railway set the gold standard for mainland China.

Where to stay: Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui Hotel

Hong Kong City Guide

4 Comments for "Best Public Transport Systems in the World"

Simon says on August 21st, 2012 at 2:47 pm:

Melbourne? Are you sure? I’m not so sure the locals will agree with you on that one…

Mac says on August 31st, 2012 at 2:42 am:

Yes, there is indeed an interesting debate. It seems public transport in Melbourne is much better than the one in Sydney, however it seems people from Melbourne aren’t that happy with it. Have a look at the following infographic:

Jack says on December 19th, 2012 at 9:02 am:

I’ll agree with HK since i’ve been there. but where is tokyo? not even a mention? o_o

Jenna says on September 30th, 2013 at 6:08 pm:

Taipei MRT should’ve been on the list. It is sooooooooo convenient.


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