We typically find ourselves drawn to cities with varied choices of food and culture. It’s wonderful to be in walkable neighborhoods, especially when combined with an effective mass-transit system.
A car-free life
Just prior to departing on our journey we sold our cars. We love not having the stress of dealing with a vehicle.
Yes, it takes longer to get to where we want to go but time is something we have a lot of these days.
There can be multiple choices depending on the size of a city. Larger metros typically have subway/light rail/bus options in combination with commuter rail.
Unfortunately, there are usually separate smartphone applications for all of them making it difficult to choose the best route.
One look at the subway map of any large city (I’m thinking Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, NYC, London, Barcelona, Paris) is enough to make your head spin!
Fortunately, there are some great applications that help sort it out.
Accessing transit options
My favorite app is Moovit which consolidates all possible transit options wherever you are. It continues to integrate subway, bus, and commuter rail systems from all over the world. Moovit accesses local info based on your smartphone GPS and suggests the best route based on your location.
The Transit app attempts to do the same and they are adding new cities every month. The interface can be a bit busy but I like that you can see the entire bus/subway route to decide if it gets you where you want to go.
Google Maps attempts to provide the same info and mostly does a respectable job, especially in larger cities but doesn’t have the accuracy of Moovit.
Real-time status updates
One advantage of system-specific applications is they often provide real-time status updates when there are delays. Sometimes we use those for that reason and promptly remove the app when we leave to free up space on our international smartphone.
It’s best to take advantage of express rail or bus service from the airport to downtown whenever available. It usually costs less than a taxi and rail will save time when bypassing road traffic in the most congested cities.
Of course, there’s always the option of using a local taxi to take you door to door. Using Uber (global), Easy Taxi (Latin America) and Grab (SE Asia) can be a way to avoid any questionable taxi-drivers.
Using electronic ticketing
Ticketing for most metro subways and buses has moved past tokens to use electronic tickets that reload value when needed.
Our preference is to purchase day/week/month passes whenever possible.
It eliminates any confusion about what the fare should be, leaving you free to hop on/off whenever you want.
It’s liberating to exit metro station steps and be exactly where you want to be without the burden of a vehicle.
I can remember magical moments emerging from underground and suddenly staring at the most iconic sights like the Sagrada Familia or the Eiffel Tower.
Share with us your stories of using the metro in cities around the world. It’s an exciting part of the adventure.