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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

London has World's Best Transport System

South West Trains Strike - Evening StandardIt's official London's Transport Rox

Just remember if you used any public transport to get around today that it's the best in the world. Forget about yesterday's strike which "crippled" South West Trains, that was just a blip. If you travelled under someone's armpit this morning, don't worry, that was just being cosy. If you stood for half an hour waiting for a bus and then three turned up at once, just laugh along with fellow queuees, and say "Don't you just love having the best transport system in the world?". If you travelled on the Northern Line. Erm, well, erm. Oh just ignore this next bit.

TripAdvisor (with emphasis on the trip - what were they on?) carried out an international survey where they questioned 2,000 people and 25 per cent believed that London had the best public transport in the world.

New York was second, Paris was third and Los Angelos came bottom. But how many cities' public transport system had each person used for London to be top? I have travelled on the subway in Paris, Mexico, Lisbon and Toronto and as much as I like the Tube I'd say they were all a good deal more efficient than London.

Perhaps it's a case of the grass always being greener on the other side. Admittedly I've never commuted on a daily basis in any of those cities (although I have travelled on all of them in the rush hour), so perhaps commuting is like a marriage or a relationship in that you really have to live with something day in, and day out before you can either appreciate its little quirks or rush off to marriage guidance.

If the majority of people questioned were holiday makers, perhaps like me, they just remember the good things about travelling in London. City travel while on holiday is like having an affair or a holiday romance. You probably even see the delays and over crowding as exciting or charming ('Guess what', you can say at dinner parties in Australia, 'We were stuck on the Tube for two hours - how we laughed'). It's sort of fun because you haven't got to put up with it all the time.

"Two in five said the most important quality of a transportation system was that it went everywhere they needed to go, which was considered even more important than safety (30 per cent), proximity (16 per cent), frequency (5.5 per cent), cost (4 per cent), cleanliness (1 per cent) and comfort (0.8 per cent)." So I'll grudingly accept that you can get more or less anywhere in London by public transport - although it's interesting to see that speed of getting there didn't figure as part of the equation.

Also the respondents weren't completely deluded. No matter how much TfL try to spin that we have great value travel in London, we don't - and that's official.

"London's public transport services get a lot of bad press but it seems that the international travelling community think it's the tops all round, even taking into account that it is also thought to be the most expensive" said Michele Perry from Trip Advisor.

Enough of my ramblings, what do you think? Does London deserve it's honour of having the best public transport in the world? If not, which city would you have voted for?

Oystercard Overseas

Is there nothing that Ken Livingstone won't do to flog Oystercards? Dmitri sent me a link from the BBC's site showing that from March next year if you live in India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, Portugal and the USA, you'll be able to travel "smarter, faster & cheaper" with Oyster.

However our Sheriff wasn't quite as positive as the glowing research above "The best way for visitors to travel around the capital is usually by public transport" he said. "Usually" by public transport? C'mon Ken, you know nothing, we've the best public transport system in the world, there's no usually about it.

But hey-ho at least having an Oystercard might mean a faster route through the barriers themselves. It's quite galling being behind anyone who 's not got fast ticket or Oystercard swiping action at the gates. I've seen a number of tourists try to put their credit cards through the travelcard slot, or waving their credit cards over the Oystercard reader and expecting their cards to be magically debited. Perhaps those days may be coming to an end.


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