Thursday, January 15, 2009

Navigating the Underground

In my life so far (twenty-one years people, even though every person in Britain feels the need to look ridiculously shocked when they find that out) I've learned four subway systems.

Buffalo, Toronto, NYC, London.

Buffalo. To me, this is useless. It's one line that gets you from University at Buffalo's South Campus to the HSBC arena. In other words: The Sabres path. I'm sure it works out for Canisus students, the maybe 100 people that work downtown, or subway fanatics. But it's ridiculously overpriced and doesn't do much difference against just driving to your destination.

Toronto. Now, I've come to appreciate Toronto's TTC for the fact that it gets me from home to school and back. And to all of the places I ever want to get to in Toronto, it gets me there. It's my time to zone out and listen to my music or catch up a bit in a book. However, both trains and stations are dirty, the trains are constantly interrupted, and the system is not very complex. In fact, what branches out the most are the busses and streetcars. But one of my main beefs is that they shut down at 1:30 AM.

NYC. The scariest one yet. I thought I would never be able to handle it, but my pal Vanessa got me through it when we went to the city in October. It's got a ton of connections every other stop you need to take, disgustingly dirty and dark, and you have to walk a ways to get to the one you need, but if you have a map in your hand (and there isn't any ridiculous construction that makes you go in a different way but nobody says anything) it should work out alright. It still feels way sketchy, though, and my last trip in October involved a crazy woman yelling at an imaginary person, and then a real person. And then everyone started yelling.

Now, London. I thought this was never going to let me master it, but surprisingly, it's way easier than I thought. You must, must, must, plan out where you're going ahead of time, and once you're in the station, you're gold. The signs are clear (much unlike NYC) and show all of the stops in big bold letters where you want to go, and even the stations with 4 different lines running through them, it's easy. Now, when you get on the "tube", it's usually small, a bit cramped, but still nice and cozy with their colourful seats. There's screens that tell you what station is next just in case you've got your headphones on, and signs in the tube that show only that line you're on.

So far, London has my favourite underground railroad.

1 comment:

  1. I've never taken the NYC transit but the comments I've heard about it being disgusting and a bit sketchy turned me off. Euck. I love the transit system in London! It's convenient and it runs just about everywhere. I did find the smaller size a bit strange though. When I was standing in front of people sitting down I felt incredibly close to them. I suppose it's a lot like taking the Scarborough RT except not as loud.