Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tokyo: Home of the world's greatest metro

So yes, Tokyo's metro system is cleaner than DCs and probably at least close to the size of New York's. The trains are certainly small by DC standards -  only about 9 feet wide and enough room for two rows of chairs facing inward and a small space to stand. But the primary reason it's so impressive is the metro has a letter and number for each station, and the numbers increase or decrease as you move away from the station you're in. this makes travel incredibly easy and means you really don't need to know the name of the station or any Japanese at all. I need to go eight stops up on the M line, and I'm at M2, so I look for the side of the station that says M3 - M13 and stay on till M10. brilliant!
But I think what makes it so impressive and outstanding are all of the little touches:
* the ground has arrows on it to show you which side of the hallway or staircase to walk on
* they play bird calls in the station so it feels less cold and mechanical 
*  they have vending machines and recycling cans everywhere, yet no litter
* at major stations there are employees standing at the tracks to direct you
* newsstands and other vendors like in NY
* the trains have different chimes or classical music snippets that play before the door closes
* some stations even have doors built into the station that open only when the train doors are next to them 
And if you get a daylong metro pass for between 7 and 10 bucks, you're good and can zip through the stations like a local. 

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