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Utopian Travel: The most awe-inspiring public transport systems in the world

Hong Kong public transport

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Whether you’re a tourist or a local, getting around is a breeze in some international cities. Most developed countries have good public transport which can often make driving seem unnecessary and expensive. With traffic jams and road works, sometimes it’s easier to leave the car at home and take public transport. Many of these transit systems are using highly advanced technologies to ensure safety, efficiency and cleanliness. Here are just a few of the most progressive transport systems throughout the world.

Over the years, South Korea’s Seoul has become a transportation hub for Asia, which is impressive considering its war-torn past as a nation. Seoul has the largest transport system in the world with their 508-kilometre subway system that runs across 25 districts throughout the city. 2.5 billion people ride the subway in Seoul every year, enjoying unlimited access to Wi-Fi inside the train. The subway also provides special areas for pregnant women, elderly and disabled people.

The city even has a Personal Travel Assistant system, which is a service that sends real-time information about subway times and routes with minimal environmental damage. Like many cities, urban congestion is a real issue in Seoul, but they are actively tackling the problem by implementing an environmentally friendly way of accessing travel information.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has one of the most effective and highly developed public transportation systems in the world. According to Hong Kong’s Travel Characteristics survey, over 90% of all travel is done on public transport, which is the highest usage in the world. Since 1997, the 7 million daily riders have had access to the Octopus Card, which can be used to electronically pay for not only travel expenses, but for parking meters and it can be used at convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.

Hong Kong regularly operates ferry rides, so people can easily travel between Hong Kong and the various outlying islands. As well as Hong Kong’s ferries and buses, everyone has access to the city’s historic double-decker trams that travel through the streets at an affordable $2.30 fare. With so many travel options, Hong Kong is a public transport mecca.


Madrid is home to some of the largest underground stations in the world. They have stations so big they can hold public events, such as the fitness festival that took place in 2011, which attracted 2,600 visitors. One of the stations, the Opera station on the Madrid Metro line even contains an archaeological museum. All this creates a fun experience for passengers, but let’s not forget that Madrid’s transport system is very efficient as well. The city has the sixth longest metro system in the world, measuring 294 kilometres. Madrid Metro also has over 1,500 escalators, more than any other transport system in the world.


We all know about Tokyo’s super-fast rail system, it holds legendary status among all the transport systems across the globe. Following Seoul, it’s the world’s second largest subway system, measuring at 310 km. Even though they are exceptionally crowded, with 3.102 billion passengers riding the subway each year, it’s extremely clean and punctual and available at every corner of the city. The transport system has a combined total of 285 stations and 13 lines. The system offers the ICOCA, a contactless smart card which stands for IC Operating Card. It saves ticket prices and it eases connection between systems. Also, all passengers have access to free Wi-Fi inside the train.


It would be impossible not to talk about London when it comes to public transport. The London underground is the oldest subway system in the world. It has been in operation since 1863 and the network has expanded to 11 lines. Getting from A to B in London is easy as you can reach every inch of the city by riding the tube or taking a bus, tapping in and out with the famed Oyster Card. Even though the underground does cause plenty of grumbling among passengers, it ferries more than 1 billion journeys a year. That (sort of) makes up for the delays, doesn’t it? Maybe.

Also, sustainability is a massive goal for Transport for London. They have recently outlined a strategy to reduce 60% of carbon dioxide emissions by 2025.


The city of Freiburg is globally recognised as one of the world’s most sustainable and environmentally friendly cities. It’s often called Germany’s “ecological capital” and its transport system is about as good as it gets. Freiburg is a shining example of sustainable transport, a city which actively promotes cycling with free maps and other information. The city has over 400 km of cycle paths and this includes bike-friendly streets. Freiburg also has a very efficient, accessible and modernized transit network. 70% of the city’s population lives within 500 meters of a tram stop and passengers can use the monthly commuting card (RegioKarte). This allows passengers unlimited use of all public transport. In addition, any tickets for sport events, concerts and big conferences can also be used as a ticket for public transport.

History shows us that public transport has come a very long way. There was a time when people travelled in stagecoaches and horse-drawn boats. Now, we can travel nearly anywhere in major cities using contactless cards, which are well on their way to completely replacing traditional tickets. While public transport systems continue to play a pivotal role in shaping our cities visually, they are also key in reducing a city’s carbon footprint. There’s no doubt that good public transport improves the global appeal of a city, as it ensures efficient mobility allowing the city to flourish.

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