New Yorkers are famous for complaining about the city’s subway: despite an ever-increasing rise in fares, service never seems to get any better. And even still, ticket-sales still only funds part of the New York City subway system; the city still relies on supplementary taxes and government grants to keep trains running, as fares only cover about 45 percent of the day-to-day operating costs. Capital costs (system expansions, upgrades, and repairs) are an entirely different question, and require more state and federal grants as well as capital market bonds. And New York’s system is not unique: as in other cities, New York struggles to pay existing expenses and must go into debt to pay for upgrades, that is, without raising prices.
Is this problem intractable? Not exactly. Take Hong Kong for example: The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Corporation, which manages the subway and bus systems on Hong Kong Island and, since 2006, in the northern part of Kowloon, is considered the gold standard for transit management worldwide. In 2012, the MTR produced revenue of 36 billion Hong Kong Dollars (about U.S $5 billion)—turning a profit of $2 billion in the process. Most impressively, the farebox recovery ratio (the percentage of operational costs covered by fares) for the system was 185 percent, the world’s highest. Worldwide, these numbers are practically unheard of—the next highest urban ratio, Singapore, is a mere 125 percent.
Read more. [Image: Paul Yeung/Reuters]
Tokyo’s subway system is arguably one of the most complex in the world. The map itself can be an immediate turn-off for any unfamiliarized straphangar. But exactly how do all these lines run underground, overlapping as they carry hundreds of thousands of passengers each day?
Tokyo University graduate student Takatsugu Kuriyama decided to answer that question be recreating an accurate three-dimensional model of Tokyo’s lifeline by using multi-colored tubes strung with wire. Different color liquids pulsate throughout all 18 lines, creating a staggering picture of what goes on below the streets of Tokyo every day.
“I wanted to show a part of the Megalopolis that struck me, that showed very clearly that something is not working well for us as human beings in relation with our environment.” -Héctor Mediavilla
A glimpse of Mexico City’s subway as seen through the lens of photographer Héctor Mediavilla.
Known as one of the worst cities in the world in which to drive, Mexico City’s rush hours aren’t much better underground with a subway system that generates around 4 million riders a day.
[Images: Héctor Mediavilla]