Thursday, July 3, 2008


First off, they have a great subway here. It's only one line, but it outclasses every other one I've been on (except in Prague, where there were no turnstiles.) The trains at fast and so smooth! You don't even need to hold onto a rail or anything. The stations are well lit, well laid out, simple, look more like train stations. They are also exceptionally easy to enter, with wide, clean stairways descending underneath the earth. The platforms are huge and clean (the subway trains are very clean too, and there aren't rats crawling all over the tracks.) You know how in New York you walk into the station and you go, "Who's bright idea was it to lay down rubber on the platform?" and then you realize, with revulsion, that it's old, dirty chewing gum? Well these places are free from trash and are piss-free! Honestly!!! It's fantastic. They focused on the wrong things on the Big Dig. They should have spent the bajillion-gajillion dollars on replacing Boston's decrepit metro system. The trains are slow and noisy, they rattle and there are rats running all over the place. They should blow a line open and let the Charles River sweep everything (tracks, trains and all) out to sea and then start from scratch. The stations are a pain to get into, the platforms are disgusting, dark and poorly laid out. It would be worth it if they took one year and ripped the system apart.
The buses are a bit of both. They have the brand new buses which are clean, silent and smooth, and then they have the older buses that are more at home in a trash compactor. I swear, if it weren't for them being so drafty, I'd insist on having a canary hanging in each bus because of the diesel fumes and exhaust. (I think it wise to keep a keen eye on the young, elderly and infirm, as they are most likely to asphyxiate first.) They are anything but silent and they haven't had their shocks replaced since they were first installed in the factory (assuming that they had shocks to begin with.)
The trams are on par with the buses. They have several new ones, looking very futuristic and the glide right along, but they also have the ones from earlier decades. These chug right along and aside from a little shaking, which is partly the track's fault, they're fine.
All forms of public transportation here are packed with people. In Karlsruhe, it was not unheard of to find a seat midday. Here, there is no chance. The subway is crammed with folks (the buses as well) until it drops off around five pm. After that, most everything clears out. Old women and men are given priority, as are pregnant women. It's kind of nice to see the younger folks stand up and offer the elderly a place to sit. Usually the big-bellied lady will just waddle up and whoever is sitting there immediately vacates.


Real Chile said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Real Chile said...

Noooo! Do not tell me you are buying the age old myth drilled into all Americans from day one: that we do do not treat the elderly with respect. Well, I haven't been to Poland but in Latin America the elderly are also treated with equal or less respect than in the US but since all Americans are brainwashed to believe that we have a lack of respect for the elderly every Chile blog except mine focuses in on younger people getting up so older people can sit down without mentioning that children are left to scream to their heart's content and even leave school while some kids are trying to organize strikes to get drunk and that Chilean parents tend to do absolutely everything for their kids while in the US the only domestic programs that are wellfunded are free drugs for the elderly. Anyway, maybe someday the US will build decent mass transportation, like Eurpoe, but I doubt it.