How Does BART Compare to Transit Systems Around the World?

Have you ever ridden the Tube in London or the Metro in Paris? How does BART fare by comparison? Share your thoughts in the comments.

In BART's latest video, a Londoner visiting San Francisco wants to know how to get to Alcatraz. "The BART system doesn't go everywhere," he says.

Alcatraz may be an island off by itself, but it still constitutes one of the world's most famous landmarks. In London, all the hot sightseeing spots are a hop, skip and jump — and a reminder to "mind the gap" — on the city's underground system, The Tube.

But every subway system has its downside. Commuters and visitors to London frequently experience the soul-crushing tide of fellow travelers at peak times, cramming into every nook and cranny of the train, elbowing backs and swinging armpits in the faces of strangers. 

In Paris, the Metro is intricate and comprehensive, which can make it difficult to navigate for non-natives. 

So, how does BART compare? The system has 104 miles of lines and 44 stations, with a weekday daily ridership of 383,700 — making it the fifth busiest and longest in the nation. The system also happens to be one of the largest in the world in terms of scale — but certainly not of ridership.

London's Tube is 250 miles of lines in total with 270 stations and a weekday ridership of 3.4 million people a day.

The Metro in Paris comprises 133 miles of lines with 301 stations and a daily ridership of 4.5 million.

Stats aside, metro and subway systems both here and abroad seem to have their own aesthetic, culture and rules. On the London Underground, for example, travelers should walk through the platform at "a brisk pace, with determination and vigour," according to this guide on Tube etiquette, and always look behind them "to assess the flow of walkers" before stopping. Over there, the right side of the escalator is for standing and the left for walking — while the reverse is true for BART riders

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T-Bone July 02, 2012 at 06:08 AM
BART is the worst transit system on earth. It is infrequent, expensive, dirty, loud, and requires huge subsidies. Third world countries do much better. How sad.
amy July 02, 2012 at 07:26 PM
I've been on the Metro, Underground, subways & trains along the U.S. East coast, Australia, Western & Eastern Europe, as well as having been a commuter on BART. The connections and prices on every single system I used were far easier and much less expensive than BART. In NY, I purchased an unlimited 5 day subway and bus pass for $17. In Sydney, the same for $22 USD. The subway in Washington D.C. about 10 years ago was $1 per ride! As a commuter from Newark to SF, Bart is upwards of $12 PER DAY and generally takes longer than driving, even during commute hours. The bus / ferry / train / BART connections in this area leave a lot to be desired. I have traveled much more smoothly with multiple connections outside of this area. However, BART is far roomier and more comfortable than every other system I've traveled on.
Nadja Adolf July 19, 2012 at 08:35 AM
Portland light rail was clean, comfortable, roomier than BART, and a heck of a lot cheaper to build. Ditto Chicago commuter trains. I also very much liked the bus systems in Portland and Seattle - although Portland made the classic mistake of cutting back on inner city routes to put more routes to the suburbs. The upshot of that brilliant idea is vacant buses coming in from Lake Oswego, and my old stomping grounds have cars parked up on the sidewalks.


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