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i've done subways in two cities now, and they are not the same! kinda threw me off in DC too.

In NYC, you buy a metrocard, and it takes $2 off it every time you go down into the subway system. Once you're down there you connect where ever you want. The cards work pretty well and towards the end I easily shared one with my husband so we weren't trying to get two cards to their tail ends. you get bonus metrocard money the more you initially put on it.

In washington DC there's this toll system that depends on where you get on and off. you buy a card with money on it, swipe it when you go in, swipe it when you leave. the cards are cardboard and if they crease, they're done... which can be a real problem if you've gotten into the subway but now can't get out. there are some sales stations that help you, but once we were at the end of a line that was unattendend and we had no idea what our lost selves could do, so we just went out through a side gate. I learned there are huge fines for this but we hadn't figured out the system yet and didn't know what our options were, I was thinking it was like NYC where I could just swipe a card and open a gate, but if you're trying to get out someplace you can't swipe a card that doesn't know where you came in at. It got messy for us.

All in all I feel proud that I know how to get around in two subways systems now, but the fact that I've only experienced two and they're both different kinda scares me. Like, there's not one way to do a subway system, and wherever I go I'm going to have this whole new thing to learn. i'll be forever chasing different implementations. it's tough.

and yes, you can get day passes, week passes, etc. but don't forget we're trying to learn these systems as cheaply as possible. a day pass in dc was like $7... compare that to a normal subway trip which is almost always under $2, and it was sort of tough for each of us to make that up because we pretty much only went one place per day.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
Vive le difference! Pretty much the only thing in common between cities is that you're riding around on a train. Thus far I've survived riding:
BART (Yay area)
L (Chicago)
Metro (DC)
Metro (Москва)
SEPTA (Philly)
T (Boston)
TTC (Toronto)
Nov. 10th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
The t in boston is pretty close to the subway in nyc, in that you swipe a card once, when you're going in. And that you can transfer to certain other lines at certain other stops. The difference is that the cost is different whether or not you're going "inbound" (towards boston) or "outbound" (out of boston) when you initially get on, and also whether you have a plastic charlie card (like a metrocard) or a paper one.... but yeah, not too horribly different....
Nov. 10th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
In London you have a choice - you can either get an "oyster" card which is a plastic card that you can load up with money which you then use to "touch" in and out of the system (it's an rfid system so you just touch the card to the reader not scan it) or you can buy individual paper tickets for journeys (or for a day's worth of journeys). Journeys vary in price and it all gets a bit complicated; fortunately the oyster system works all of this out for you these days (that is you start buying single journeys but when you have spent the price of a day pass you then stop getting charged unless you go into a different charging zone), it used to be a big pain.

From my experience of the Paris system it is very similar although they don't seem to market their top-uppable ticket dooby (people seem to have plastic things used as tickets) to tourists and we ended up (last I was there) buying paper tickets that covered a week's worth of journeys.

Having mastered one system you can probably manage them all (but you might want to read the map before heading out).
Nov. 10th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
hahah i didn't realise how cumbersome the paper things get till we had guests! Residents tend to use the smart-trip card, and we get a few added benefits to it too.

We did try getting a refund on one of the defunct paper cards. It took them like 3-4 months to send it via mail! sigh.

And I never encourage visitors to get the day pass here. As you hardly use the metro so much. All sights are pretty much in one area.
Nov. 10th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
i think the boston and london subways are easiest. boston is so easy because there are just 4 lines and they are color coded and you can easily identify the stations to switch at.
Nov. 10th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
Man, I know what it's like to get stuck in the metro somewhere. In France this summer, we took the RER to Versailles, and the ticket reader in Versailles was farked up for some reason, so half of us just jumped the turnstile and headed back to Paris. Then, two of us decided to get off by the Musée D'Orsay while everyone else went on further, and it turned out that the Musée stop was pretty dang deserted. We looked around for a way to get out, and could only see the turnstiles, which refused to accept our cards(even mine, and I had gotten it to work in Versailles). So we just crawled out because otherwise, there was nothing to do, unless we just wanted to ride the train all night.

(they had a plastic gate that was open at the bottom, so we had to crawl under it to escape)

It was pretty funny though the night of the Fete de la Musique being in the back of the car with a dozen drunk french kids my age downing shots of something that looked like whiskey and singing drinking songs xD
Nov. 10th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
Man, lj has been logging me out like a fiend lately. . .
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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