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I rode London’s famous Underground system for a week — and I saw why New York’s subway will never catch up

By: Dennis Green

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A scene from a London Underground station. Photo: Shutterstock

It was the summer of hell, and I needed some relief.

To take a break from the swamp that New York City becomes in the summer, I took a weeklong trip to the sunny paradise of London for a well-deserved vacation.

OK, fine. London may not be that sunny, but it is a transportation paradise. When comparing it with New York, anyway, London seems like a city that cares about its public transportation. Its trains run often, its buses have a priority network, and there’s even a congestion charge for private cars driving in the city center that feeds money back into the transportation projects.

Things are not so great in New York right now. The state and city are in an interminable battle to escape blame for the crumbling infrastructure that millions of New Yorkers rely on every day. But some fixes being suggested now, like congestion charging, have already been at work in London for years.

I decided my vacation would be a good opportunity to see how London’s public transportation system works. Not once did I get stuck in a tunnel or even have to wait longer than four minutes for a train — and with countdown clocks at nearly every station, I always knew when the next train was coming. I also never had to detour because of track work, which is done overnight in London.

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