U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 06-14-2013, 09:52 AM
 
178 posts, read 237,745 times
Reputation: 105

Advertisements

I would say probably NYC, but the system is obviously much bigger, so there's a much greater degree of complexity.

I would still say NYC's system is more user-friendly, though. The Metrocard machines are easier to use (and have a ton of languages), the system is almost completely 24-hour, and the fares are flat for all subway and most city-proper commuter rail. The transfers are a bit more seamless too.

But Chicago's system is smaller, so in that sense, is easier to navigate.

It's probably better to compare more similarly sized systems. Maybe compare Chicago to DC, Philly or Boston, or compare NYC to Paris or London. There you have similar types of complexity being compared.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 06-14-2013, 10:00 AM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
14,798 posts, read 19,024,140 times
Reputation: 6805
The first time I used the big blue machines to get a fare card in Chicago were actually kind of confusing. I have a card that hooks into a debit card of mine that I don't have to worry about this stuff nowadays, but there's one extremely to use fare machine people miss in Chicago that's at a number of stations. It's usually only one and it's smaller than the big blue ones, so people aren't drawn to it.

They only accept credit/debit card and they are extremely easy to use. They are also touch screen and have limited options. It looks like this:
http://www.ctatattler.com/images/200...achine_1_2.jpg

The three options are "Buy Card", "Add Value", and I forget what the last one is. You hit "Buy Card" and then you're presented with maybe 6 options for how much to put on it. Insert your credit/debit card and you're done. If you already have a pass and need to add value, then hit "Add Value", insert your fare card into the fare slot, then press how much to add, insert your debit/credit card and you're done.

Very fast. If you're someone visiting Chicago and you don't care about using credit/debit to buy the card and your stop has one of them, then use it. Most people completely miss it, but it's extremely fast and easy to use. Easier than the big blue machines IMHO.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-14-2013, 10:03 AM
 
Location: New York NY
4,268 posts, read 6,351,433 times
Reputation: 9061
Quote:
Originally Posted by marothisu View Post
Not "starting anything," just putting it out there though that 2 of the 8 Chicago lines are 24/7 and 5 of the others are about 20-22 hours/day. There's only one line under 20 hours/day and it's the newest which serves two suburbs with only a few stops.

That's prfectly fine unless you happen to get caught late in the evening during those four hours and need to get home. The 24/7 schedule everyhwere is tremendous advantage in NYC.

Chicago has express routes too.. Some are set planned such as the Purple and Brown Lines, and others kind of "decide" to be express when you're on the train, but usually there's a non express train right behind it so you get off and get on another one within 1-3 minutes.

Yes, I should have said that NYC has MORE express lines, not to imply that Chicago has none whatseover.

They find it because it has a word next to it for the final destinations. For example, Red - Howard is the Red Line that goes north while Red - 95th/Dan Ryan is the one that goes south (Although currently it's Ashland/63rd due to construction).

The colors mean something, but if you know the ending stops, it doesn't even matter. Someone could tell me "Kimball" and I know right away that's the brown line going north and I know what neighborhoods that goes through.

Lighten up. The whole thing with colorblindness was a joke.
10 characters
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-14-2013, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
14,798 posts, read 19,024,140 times
Reputation: 6805
Quote:
Originally Posted by citylove101 View Post
That's prfectly fine unless you happen to get caught late in the evening during those four hours and need to get home. The 24/7 schedule everyhwere is tremendous advantage in NYC.
Quote:
Yes, I should have said that NYC has MORE express lines, not to imply that Chicago has none whatseover.
I totally agree with you, but in the end this thread is really about the user design/friendliness of the systems and not really which is best, as the OP stated.

Quote:
Lighten up. The whole thing with colorblindness was a joke.
Why would you think I would be pissed about that? I was presenting information and it actually has to do with the thread's topic. This is an actual bit of usability and some people might actually be wondering about that. It's a legit wonder. I already knew it was a joke, but it's still a bit of information people might actually be wondering about.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-14-2013, 10:25 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
10,238 posts, read 18,754,637 times
Reputation: 10164
Quote:
Originally Posted by citylove101 View Post

And the color thing just srot of cracks me up. Everytime I'm in the subway and someone asks me where to catch "the green line" or "the red line" I just smile, point the way and wonder -- How do colorblind people in Chicago, Boston, Wahington etc find the right train?
Old timers like me still call the lines by their old names: the Lake St. EL, the Congress, Douglas Park, Dan Ryan, Ravenswood etc. Which made a lot more sense than the color business as it described either the route or destination.

I never used the NYC system but looking at maps it appears to cover the city more comprehensively than Chicago's; Chicago has large areas that are not served by the EL and north to south cross city service is only available on the city's eastern edge.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-14-2013, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
14,798 posts, read 19,024,140 times
Reputation: 6805
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishtom29 View Post
I never used the NYC system but looking at maps it appears to cover the city more comprehensively than Chicago's; Chicago has large areas that are not served by the EL and north to south cross city service is only available on the city's eastern edge.
Very true. NYC is the most superior public transit system by far in the US, but again this is a thread about usability of the system and not best/most extensive/etc.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-14-2013, 01:20 PM
 
Location: Metairie, LA
1,085 posts, read 1,904,507 times
Reputation: 1442
I have been to both cities multiple times using both trains and buses. My vote is for Chicago and I think it has a lot to do with how the city is laid out. The majority of Chicago is a continuous grid with major streets every 1/2mi or so. Every one of those streets has a bus line that has a predictable route. If I stumble across a stop on Damen, then I know that the bus there will pretty much run the full length of that street in either direction. Obviously there are exceptions. Bus lines and trains converge on the Loop and routing gets a little hairy. But for the rest of the city, it's very straightforward. The L trains run to and from the Loop and are easy to find since they are elevated above grade 98% of the time and can be heard many blocks away.

NYC on the other hand is a complex network of islands, tunnels, bridges with many different train lines sharing trackage and stations. The street grid is there, but its not consistent outside of upper Manhattan. Downtown, Brooklyn and Queens have street grids running in all different directions and its a hodge-podge of arterial and neighborhood streets. Bus routes run every which way imaginable and many streets outside of Downtown/Midtown Manhattan have quite a multiple buses serving them. Underground subway stations are harder to locate since all you can see is the top of a stairway and a sign.

For the complete transit novice the CTA is much easier to use/navigate IMO.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-14-2013, 01:27 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,266 posts, read 26,252,873 times
Reputation: 11726
Quote:
Originally Posted by rburnett View Post
For the complete transit novice the CTA is much easier to use/navigate IMO.
Well, the complete transit novice is also unlikely to be catching a train out to Jamaica, Queens. For most tourists, the subway is not that complicated since they're spending nearly all of their time in Manhattan and the train only goes two directions on the island.

Manhattan is easier to understand than Chicago, imo. You have numbered streets that go in ascending order from South to North. And you have numbered avenues that go in ascending order from East to West. Lower Manhattan gets trickier, but for the most part, it's pretty easy to understand.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-14-2013, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis
1,704 posts, read 2,764,382 times
Reputation: 2336
Quote:
Originally Posted by lammius View Post
I think NYC might be confusing to a first-timer because there are so many lines, so it takes awhile to figure out where they all go/connect. NYC needs to use numbers/letters to identify the train. If they used colors, there'd be too many and you'd be trying to figure out if you should take the chartreuse or "lima bean" colored line.

The letters and numbers have a lot of meaning (including reference to the competing companies that built the subway lines). But you can remember the key groups of lines like this:
1/2/3 trains all run together in Manhattan
4/5/6 trains all run together
7 does its own thing going out to Queens

If you're familiar with music, the letters should be easy for you. A-F are grouped like musical triads:
A/C/E run together
B/D/F run together (M was re-routed a few years ago to join B/D/F for a bit in Manhattan)
The last group is not a musical triad, so you just need to remember it's N/Q/R.

The groups of lines break apart in the outer boroughs and all bets are off. I still need to refer to a map when I take a trip to certain parts of Brooklyn.

There are a few other lines out there not listed here, but this should be enough to get you started!

Also, the NYC subway announces the destination of the train and when doors are closing. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O965EsEl9Q
See, this is not simple or intuitive, and the problem I have with New York's Subway is that it COULD easily be much simpler and more intuitive. The numbers and letters seem arbitrary, and it ends up being too much information for users to process. And the way the infrastructure of it is set up assumes that you either know the system well already or you're willing to spend extra time decoding it before each trip. It's not unforgivably terrible, but there's no reason it needs to work that way.

I would say London is the paragon of usable rail transit interface and urban wayfinding design, at least among megacities. I also think the Underground is more of a peer to the Subway than the L is. In London, it's all laid out based on what the user needs when. Stations are clearly marked above ground with the TfL roundel, the station name, and the lines offered. Near the entrance of each station is a map of the full Underground system, plus (usually) the DLR, the Overground, and connections to other TfL and National Rail services, so it's easy to plan a route if you don't have one yet. Then there's big clear signage pointing the way to each direction of each line at the station. Before you even see the platform itself (and plastered all over the place on the platform), there are maps of the line you've chosen - and its connections - in isolation, from your current station to its terminal(s) in the proper direction (http://www.roberthampton.me.uk/wordp...hern-line.jpeg), so you can confirm you're in the right place and take a quick mental snapshot of what's between you and your destination. The voiceover announcements on the trains are concise and audible, and it's clear where to go once the train stops.

Now I realize this thread is about NYC and Chicago, not London, but I think both cities, NYC in particular, would do well to take some inspiration from the Tube. I think most everyone would agree that the Underground is about the most user-friendly mass transit system in the Western world. I'm ashamed to say I don't know much about the L since Chicago is close enough for me to drive when I'm there, but I have used the Subway as a tourist recently, and there are a few things I think New York could do to make it more usable and accessible to out-of-towners. First of all, get rid of the confusing numbers and letters model, at least for the most part. It's outdated and cumbersome, and all it does is make a pretty simple thing harder to understand. Really there are only nine major corridors, not including the shuttles or Staten Island:

red/7 Ave (1, 2, 3)
green/Lexington (4, 5, 6)
purple/42 St-Flushing (7)
blue/8 Ave (A, C, E)
orange/6 Ave (B, D, F),
light green/Crosstown (G)
brown/Nassau St (J, Z)
silver/14 St-Canarsie (L)
yellow/Broadway (N, Q, R)

It would not be too big a stretch to start imagining the system in terms of these nine corridors rather than 20 distinct lines. London, after all, manages fine with eleven lines, plus DLR plus Overground plus Tramlink, and soon plus Crossrail all operating within the same sphere. If New York could market the Subway as a system of just nine transit corridors, with either slight route variations or a couple different lines contained in each, I think it would solve most of the problem. They could even keep the original letter and number designations as route names within each corridor, but simply imagining them as grouped corridors rather than lines would make a big difference. Then I would adopt the London practice of isolated-line wayfinding maps on every platform (whipped this up in a couple minutes, so it's rough): http://i.imgur.com/OdgtLiA.png. Just that would make a big difference.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-14-2013, 04:07 PM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
14,798 posts, read 19,024,140 times
Reputation: 6805
^ Speaking of world systems, I remember buying fare cards in Singapore recently, and the system was high tech, but it was odd as I remember. Had to put in exactly where you were getting off at or something.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > General U.S.
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top