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Entries in transit (5)


Big City Transit: Munich

A tribute to German engineering, the Munich city transit system is fast and efficient. Pretty much every place that tourists and short-term visitors will want to see (except for the airport and Dachau) is found in the inner zone (Innenraum), which is marked blue on Munich’s public transit maps. This keeps transport costs down and minimizes the need for transfers and complicated routes.

Tickets are valid across all platforms – U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses. However, they have to be validated (i.e. time stamped) before you board. Machines on the U-Bahn and S-Bahn platforms can take care of this, as can drivers on buses on trams. Failing to validate your ticket puts you at the mercy of the plainclothes inspectors that you probably didn’t even know you were traveling with. They dole out €40 fines with that world-famous brand of German efficiency. Don’t test the system.

There are three types of tickets available for Munich’s public transport system, which are valid on the U-Bahn and S-Bahn as well as on buses and trams:

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Big City Transit: Hong Kong

Hong Kong has it all – from subways and buses to affordable taxis and surprisingly speedy ferries. As compact as Hong Kong is, even your two feet have serious currency. Getting around a major metropolis doesn’t get much easier than this.

First things first: go to a 7-Eleven or MTR service counter and purchase an Octopus card. In a city where so many different transport companies are running routes by land, rail and sea, this all-in-one smart card is a lifesaver. Practically every form of public transit accepts the Octopus, and you’ll save yourself from that awkward standoff with a driver who needs exact change when you don’t have it.

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Big City Transit: Singapore

You’re never far from where you want to be in Singapore – and that’s just one more reason to love the local transit system. You can wheel around in a trishaw or board a bumboat to cruise the Singapore River and admire the skyline. For pure transit needs in this world-class city, you’ll find everything you need between the MRT, taxis and buses. And as with so many things in Singapore, you can expect that the infrastructure is going to be well-organized and spotlessly clean.

Residents and long-term visitors carry an EZ-Link stored value card, which covers both the MRT and bus networks and eliminates those awkward scrounging-for-change-in-your-pocket moments. If you’re just in the city for a few days, pick up a Singapore Tourist Pass for a few bucks per day and enjoy unlimited access to the MRT and buses. 

Read on for a breakdown of Singapore’s transit system:

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Big City Transit: Jakarta

Just so we’re clear: Jakarta has a traffic problem. The city’s official tourism portal tactfully points out that congestion is a problem “despite the presence of many wide roads”. That’s one way of putting it, and here’s another – there’s plenty to enjoy in this energizing metropolis; but getting around isn’t one of them.

Jakarta is the biggest city in the world without a mass rapid transit system. Construction is underway, but relief is a long way off. Meanwhile, car ownership in the capital grows 10 to 15 percent each year. Analysts are even counting down to an impending ‘total gridlock’ apocalypse, where traffic becomes so bad that it begins to affect the efficiency of the city’s workforce and the economic output thereof. It sounds sensational, but total gridlock is no joke, and it’s a very hot topic in Jakarta.

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Big City Transit: Seoul

If a think-tank full of the world’s top city planners and developers put their heads together to design a state-of-the-art public transport system, it would probably end up looking a lot like Seoul’s. To be fair, that’s not far from what actually happened. The Seoul of post-war Korea expanded rapidly as people from the surrounding countryside poured in. Those people needed practical and effective infrastructure, and transit solutions that worked. And that’s exactly what they got.

That’s good news for today’s visitors. For all of Seoul’s drab (some would say ‘soulless’) architecture, the city redeems itself with one of the cleanest, most beautifully organized public transport systems in the world. All a visitor needs is a public transit map, a card with the name and address of their Seoul hotel written in Korean and a stored value card (try the Seoul City Pass or T-Money card) and you can get pretty much anywhere you need to go. You’ll end up doing a little bit of walking between stations and your onward destination, but this is nominal. Wherever you are headed, the subway, taxis and buses of Seoul will get you there quickly.

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