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How Does BART Compare to Transit Systems Around the World?

Have you ever ridden the Tube in London or the Metro in Paris? How does BART fare by comparison? Share your thoughts in the comments.

In BART's latest video, a Londoner visiting San Francisco wants to know how to get to Alcatraz. "The BART system doesn't go everywhere," he says.

Alcatraz may be an island off by itself, but it still constitutes one of the world's most famous landmarks. In London, all the hot sightseeing spots are a hop, skip and jump — and a reminder to "mind the gap" — on the city's underground system, The Tube.

But every subway system has its downside. Commuters and visitors to London frequently experience the soul-crushing tide of fellow travelers at peak times, cramming into every nook and cranny of the train, elbowing backs and swinging armpits in the faces of strangers. 

In Paris, the Metro is intricate and comprehensive, which can make it difficult to navigate for non-natives. 

So, how does BART compare? The system has 104 miles of lines and 44 stations, with a weekday daily ridership of 383,700 — making it the fifth busiest and longest in the nation. The system also happens to be one of the largest in the world in terms of scale — but certainly not of ridership.

London's Tube is 250 miles of lines in total with 270 stations and a weekday ridership of 3.4 million people a day.

The Metro in Paris comprises 133 miles of lines with 301 stations and a daily ridership of 4.5 million.

Stats aside, metro and subway systems both here and abroad seem to have their own aesthetic, culture and rules. On the London Underground, for example, travelers should walk through the platform at "a brisk pace, with determination and vigour," according to this guide on Tube etiquette, and always look behind them "to assess the flow of walkers" before stopping. Over there, the right side of the escalator is for standing and the left for walking — while the reverse is true for BART riders

Have you used subway systems abroad? How does BART compare? Share your thoughts in the comments.

nitrox11 June 27, 2012 at 11:47 AM
I live in London and have only visited San Francisco once but loved your transport system. We used the BART a few times, including the journey from the airport and found it to be fine. I liked the size of the trains, how easy it was to buy tickets, the clarity of the information / maps / directions and the frequency. I even liked that the trains looked a bit old and 'lived in'. Obviously the streetcars and the cable cars were the biggest hit, but the buses and the subway impressed too. It was great to visit an American city where public transport thrived and was used by all types of people and where the car wasn't king.

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