Mind the gap
In last week’s edition of The Economist, “Stuck in a Tunnel” makes a uniquely British assumption: That London transport is terrible. This is a common starting point for any article on London’s transport system, but it is far from deserved. London’s transport system is one of the most comprehensive and dependable in the world. The Tube shuttles ...
In last week's edition of The Economist, "Stuck in a Tunnel" makes a uniquely British assumption: That London transport is terrible. This is a common starting point for any article on London's transport system, but it is far from deserved. London's transport system is one of the most comprehensive and dependable in the world.
The Tube shuttles all classes of workers back and forth every day in cars that remain astonishingly clean despite legal permission to eat and drink on the trains. The 24-hour bus system is safe deep into the night and runs surprisingly on-time. Furthermore, the system runs in five to ten minute intervals – a far cry from the 19 minute waits for the DC metro outside of rush hour, and the endless wait for any sort of DC bus. Despite a lack of air conditioning in London’s mostly moderate climate, and the most expensive transport ticket in the world (the cheapest cash fare for the tube is $7.45), the system provides a stellar example of integrated public transport that fully alleviates any justification for driving a car – even to far-flung destinations. With the exception of New York, no American city can claim such a network. As threats of pollution and global warming become ever more real, a more appropriate starting point would be to acknowledge how effective London’s transport system is in attracting users, which makes overcrowding something to be applauded rather than hated.
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