Toronto Mayor Rob Ford may be more gung-ho about subways than ever, but many would argue the city council-approved Scarborough subway line is a far cry from anything resembling a comprehensive transit plan to move Toronto’s system into the world class arena.

Cities all over the world have managed to create infrastructures that efficiently move millions, so maybe Toronto needs a little infrastructure-inspiration to up its game?

Here are five cities whose impressive subway stats will leave you either inspired to do better or green with envy:

Guangzhou, China

The map:

guangzhou-MTR-map

The look:

guangzhou metro

Photo: MengYeyue/Flickr

The facts:

  • Number of lines: 8
  • Ridership: 1.85 billion annually
  • Operating since: 1997
  • Claim to fame: Isn’t it obvious? The system opened in 1997 and already operates 144 stations, eight lines and is the sixth busiest metro system in the world.

Seoul

The map:

seoul subway map

The look:

seoul subway car

Photo: Zack George/Flickr

The facts:

  • Number of lines: 19
  • Number of stations: 607
  • Operating since: 1974
  • Claims to fame: Introduced world’s first contactless smart card, the Upass in 1996, has WiFi and 4G LTE in every station and moving train

Tokyo

The map:

tokyo-subway-map

The look:

tokyo subway

Photo: Throgers/Flickr

The facts:

  • Number of lines: 13
  • Ridership: 8.7 million per day
  • Operating since: 1927
  • Claim to fame: Shinjuku Station, which houses both subway and railway lines, is the world’s busiest station carrying 3.64 million people per day.

London

The map:

london underground map

The look:

london subway

Photo: Kim + Chantelle/Flickr

The facts:

  • Number of lines: 11
  • Ridership: 3.66 million on an average weekday
  • Operating since: 1863
  • Claim to fame: It’s the world’s first underground railway.

Madrid

The map:

madrid metro

The look:

madrid metro train

Photo: sincretic/Flickr

The facts:

  • Number of lines: 13
  • Ridership: 634,598,000 annually (2011)
  • Operating since: 1919
  • Claim to fame: The Madrid Metro has 1,656 escalators spread across its 288 stations, the most of any subway system in the world.

Developments featured in this article

More Like This

Facebook Chatter