The Biggest Subway Systems in U.S. and the World

washington-dc-subwayI went to Washington DC yesterday for a conference to give a talk and listen to a bunch of talks on the topic of cognitive networking.

What I like most about Washington DC for some strange reason is its metro system. The architecture is a mix of something from the 1950’s and the 2050’s, and the design of the system itself is intuitive despite the large size. I think that’s what draws me to public transit when I travel to big cities across the world: the chance to observe city planning at its best or worst. I like to see how people deal with the incredibly complex network of transportation that is required to make a big city work.

That brings me to the numbers… It’s sad to see how badly U.S. is getting spanked in terms of subway ridership in it’s largest cities. NYC barely makes it in the top 10 and our second largest (Washington DC) is in 50th place. I’m not sure if this is a result of culture, geography, or just bad planning and design, but I hope it changes. I believe that a strong public transit system is one of the key ingredients that help a big city prosper.

Top 10 Metro Systems in the World (by ridership)

  1. Tokyo: 3.1 billion
  2. Seoul: 2.5 billion
  3. Beijing: 2.5 billion
  4. Moscow: 2.4 billion
  5. Shanghai: 2.3 billion
  6. Guangzhou: 1.8 billion
  7. New York City: 1.7 billion
  8. Mexico City: 1.6 million
  9. Hong Kong: 1.5 billion
  10. Paris: 1.5 billion

Top 10 Metro Systems in the United States (by ridership)

  1. New York City: 1.7 billion
  2. Washington DC: 281 million
  3. Chicago: 231 million
  4. Boston: 165 million
  5. San Francisco: 123 million
  6. Philadelphia: 98 million
  7. Newark and Jersey City, NJ: 70 million
  8. Atlanta: 70 million
  9. Los Angeles: 48 million
  10. Miami: 19 million

Sources: for the world, for the United States.

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