From the Blog

Travelling on rapid transit systems


A rapid transit system is generally found in urban areas and cannot be accessed by the general public unless they do so from a station. These systems generally run either below, or above, the urban areas avoiding the traffic congestion and chaos that many of the major cities suffer from today. These systems are generally run on electrified tracks although some now use magnetic levitation or mono rail. Many of these systems share stations with other modes of transport such as airport or railway terminals.  The main users are commuters and tourists. Many large cities have commuters who travel into work each day by train and the will change across to a RTS in order to get closer to their work. This means that at certain times of the day the rapid transit systems are packed full of passengers while for the majority of the time they can be quite quiet.

The Tube in London

The oldest system in the world is the London Underground which is more commonly known as the tube. The Metropolitan Railway was opened in 1863 and now is part of the Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines. Despite the tube being as popular as ever it does suffer from being so old. The conditions of some of the stations and the tracks is not as good as other major cities. Despite the opening of several new lines the South of London is not as well served as other major areas of the city.

The biggest RTS in the worlds is the New York City Subway. It has 472 stations and the system has 380km of routes. The system is also one of the oldest in the world having been opened in 1904. There are 25 different routes and 22 of these pass through Manhattan. The busiest subway in the world is Beijing with their being 3.66 billion journeys taking place in 2016. There is no country that has more subways than China and there are currently 32 Chinese cities with their own subways. A further 13 cities are constructing their own subway at the moment.

Great views from the BTS Skytrain in Bangkok

Other cities in the world choose to have their RTS above the city and a good example of this is Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain system. The system was opened in 1999 and after a slow start it is a popular form of transport in one of the most traffic congested cities in the world. It is currently use by an average of 650,000 passengers every day. As well as the trains running above the city its stations are also located above the city. This is very much a modern day facility with the system linking in with the city’s MRT system, the Chao Phraya Express Boat Service and the rail link to Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The stations have a wide range of shops and they are patrolled by security, with particular attention being made to the cleanliness and presentation of the station. The trains are punctual and many of the stops feed directly into the City’s large shopping malls and other amenities.

As all modern day cities attempt to combat traffic congestion and pollution, the current policy is to keep as many cars outside of the city as possible. The use of efficient RTS is the most effective way to do this. Whether they are located under or over the city they enable vast numbers of people to reach their inner city locations without adding to the traffic congestion. The number of planned RTS around the world is massive and merely goes to show how successful previous implementations of them in the world’s busiest cities has been.