Sunday, March 11, 2012

I get around: The subway

The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) puts New York's subway system to shame with its spaciousness, speed, efficiency, ease of use, cheapness and cleanliness. Of course, that's to a great degree because it's much newer, having mostly been built since the '70s. NYC's system is over 100 years old and there's a  limit to how much retrofitting can be done to upgrade it. And it has more character, local color and history - so there are always tradeoffs. Still, we could take some lessons. Particularly in the cleanliness department.

Yes, New York, that is a subway station. Not an airport terminal or a Bond villain's lair.

You pay by mileage on the MTR - swipe your stored-value "Octopus card" when you enter the station and again when you leave, and the system calculates how much money to take off. The Octopus card is a delightful invention that not only pays for transport by train, bus, tram or ferry, but also for goods and food at lots of convenience stores and chain restaurants and the like.

Track suicides, accidental or otherwise, aren't much of a problem. On the other hand, there are TV commercials everywhere you look. Pick your poison. At least the commercials are silent. Unlike track suicides, I would imagine.

Yes, New York, that is a subway car below - not a shot from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Instead of being completely separate cars with closed doors between them, MTR trains are open-ended and linked together, making one long space, decreasing crowding and making for jaw-dropping tunnel views like below. There's also a breeze - quite strong - inside the train when it gets going fast. I and some people I talked to in HK spent some time trying to puzzle out the physics/aerodynamics of this phenomenon, without much success.

Below is one of the joins between cars, where they bend when going around curves. This is wasted space in NYC subways.

Hong Kong's ever-present nanny signage strikes again.

Rush hour crowd control - this guy would get beat up in New York.  The surgical facemask he's wearing is a pretty common sight in Hong Kong, where, as I noted, pollution is pretty bad and the populace is rattled by recent pandemics. Wish I could have gotten a better shot of one, but it's kind of weird to blatantly take pictures of strangers' faces.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michael --

    Not commenting on the MTR or your comments about the MTR but, instead, (your comment) about the masks: many Hong Kongers don't wear them to protect themselves from others but to protect others from themselves... i.e., if you have a cold, you wear a mask to help stop the droplets from coughs or sneezes from hitting others or surfaces that others might touch...