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Old 06-13-2013, 09:56 PM
 
26 posts, read 74,818 times
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I want to make this clear right now, this is not a thread about which city is better than the other. Its also not about what transit system is better. What I want to know which city has the most user friendly transit system, the new York subway or Chicago el. The reason I want to know this is because I've recently visited both cities. When I was in new York I found the subway to be very confusing. I had a hard time figuring out how to pay, the machine wouldn't read my transit card, then I couldn't figure out what train to take because of how they are labled using only letters and numbers. The fact that there were express and local trains didn't help either so every time I got on a train it was the wrong one or it was the right one going in the wrong direction which caused me to get lost in a bad part of Queens . The trains took off to fast without warning. This caused me to fall on a man and wrinkle his suit. I did have a map given to me by a station assistant but it was hard to understand his directions. As a result of this I don't think the NYC subway is very user friendly.

This was my expirence on the Chicago El: I walked upstairs to the stairs to the station which was a climb but I guess good excercise. I bought my from the machine which had clear instructions. Findind the right train was easy because they are named by color and final destination. When in the station I found it easy to tell what train to take as there were clear signs. When on the train there were clear and auidible ancouncements of the upcoming stations. The train took off at a steady pace and wasn't filled beyond all compacity. There were announcements of when the doors would close and on what side they would open. I also enjoyed the view from the train.
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:01 PM
 
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Taken them both without any issues. I'm more use to Chicago, and I do think it's fairly easy since every line has its own color, and there is basically only one destination in either direction when boarding a certain color line (except the green line south). I take mass transit in any country I'm in and you get use to how they all work, hence I didn't have any issues with NYC at all. I did notice you had to kinda pay attention to the local/express, and the different numbers and letters made you think an extra second compared to just using colors. There are branches as well, which will always make it a little more complex than just having very independent lines that only go one way or the other, and of course not being on a grid and with numbered streets replicating themselves in different boroughs it can seem confusing for a visitor. None of that is the transit agencies fault though, just how the city is developed. A grid with a strict numbering/naming of streets can make it much easier to label a transit map.
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:12 PM
 
12,651 posts, read 10,492,420 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmims View Post
I want to make this clear right now, this is not a thread about which city is better than the other. Its also not about what transit system is better. What I want to know which city has the most user friendly transit system, the new York subway or Chicago el. The reason I want to know this is because I've recently visited both cities. When I was in new York I found the subway to be very confusing. I had a hard time figuring out how to pay, the machine wouldn't read my transit card, then I couldn't figure out what train to take because of how they are labled using only letters and numbers. The fact that there were express and local trains didn't help either so every time I got on a train it was the wrong one or it was the right one going in the wrong direction which caused me to get lost in a bad part of Queens . The trains took off to fast without warning. This caused me to fall on a man and wrinkle his suit. I did have a map given to me by a station assistant but it was hard to understand his directions. As a result of this I don't think the NYC subway is very user friendly.

This was my expirence on the Chicago El: I walked upstairs to the stairs to the station which was a climb but I guess good excercise. I bought my from the machine which had clear instructions. Findind the right train was easy because they are named by color and final destination. When in the station I found it easy to tell what train to take as there were clear signs. When on the train there were clear and auidible ancouncements of the upcoming stations. The train took off at a steady pace and wasn't filled beyond all compacity. There were announcements of when the doors would close and on what side they would open. I also enjoyed the view from the train.
Seems you already answered your own question, doesn't it?
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:27 PM
 
Location: Jersey City
6,488 posts, read 16,152,784 times
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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
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Old 06-14-2013, 12:30 AM
 
26 posts, read 74,818 times
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I don't think I mentioned but I would like to know what everyone else thinks. I think Chicago is easier to use based on my expirence with both systems but I would like to know the opinions of everyone else.
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Old 06-14-2013, 03:52 AM
 
Location: Portland, Maine
4,180 posts, read 13,049,526 times
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Without a doubt: NYC
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Old 06-14-2013, 08:11 AM
 
Location: Earth
2,549 posts, read 3,255,587 times
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The MTA and NJtransit was easier for me to use than CTA. I wish both still used the old tokens. I can't speak for Chicago's Metra since I have not used that system. As for buses I prefer CTA. I didn't like dealing with the transferring of stops with NJ Transit buses from East Brunswick to Penn Station especially wasting time at the Hoboken Terminal so I take a cab to East Brunswick via NJ Transit train to Penn which was much quicker. There was an express bus that actually runs along the NJTrnPk but doesn't run as frequent and was too far to walk to from where I was. I use to take trains from the Secaucus Junction into Manhattan's Penn. I am however curious about the extensive Metra network linking into the Loop and how the Union Station is compared to Penn Station.
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Old 06-14-2013, 08:39 AM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
14,798 posts, read 19,010,012 times
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Interesting thread. NYC has a larger learning curve because of how big the system is (though Chicago's system is big - NYC's is massive). Really depends on how used to this type of stuff you are too I think. I'd guess for the average person, Chicago's may be easier because it's less complex and hence easier to explain.

I have taken both without incident, but there were times when I was new to both that I got slightly confused, but that was me not really scoping anything out. More of "Okay, how do I get to this intersection through the train and what stop?" Then again, there's maps..
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Old 06-14-2013, 09:17 AM
 
Location: New York NY
4,265 posts, read 6,344,366 times
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I've traveled on both, and think both are pretty good. But I'd call NY subways more user-friendly than Chicago El for two main reasons: In NYC, all stations are open 24/7, which they're not in Chicago. We're the city that never sleeps. Also, in NYC you DO have express trains which skip several stops and make riding long distances a lot faster than a ride of the same distance would be in Chitown. For New Yorkers, living next to an express stop on a line is a big plus.

Can't quite say which system is more wheelchair accessible, but I'd guess Chicago. In New York, usually only major stops have the elevators to get you up and down to a platform. A lot of local stops lack this.

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?
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Old 06-14-2013, 09:37 AM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
14,798 posts, read 19,010,012 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by citylove101 View Post
I've traveled on both, and think both are pretty good. But I'd call NY subways more user-friendly than Chicago El for two main reasons: In NYC, all stations are open 24/7, which they're not in Chicago.
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.

Quote:
We're the city that never sleeps. Also, in NYC you DO have express trains which skip several stops and make riding long distances a lot faster than a ride of the same distance would be in Chitown. For New Yorkers, living next to an express stop on a line is a big plus.
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.

Quote:
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?
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.
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