London’s Living Museum

It cost me £6.60 for a Zones 1 and 2 travelcard. For a tourist, that’s excellent value. Not only do you get to go from A to B, but you get access to a living museum, the oldest metro system in the world. With all it’s old fashioned tiling, elevators, escalators and the classic design of the platforms and trains.

It’s good value compared to the costs of driving a car too. Thanks, in large part, to the exorbitant cost of driving in London. But, for an all zones annual season ticket which sets you back £2,868 a year, it isn’t cheap. For someone on National Minumum Wage, thats 30% of your salary gone.

And that’s where I get a bit socialist. Mexico operates a great metro system, subsidised by the DF government. When the price of a ticket went up from 2 pesos to 3 pesos, they pinned posters everywhere, in anticipation of a little outrage I suspect, pointing out that the true cost of a ticket was 12 pesos.

It would be lovely if London Underground could be run as a public service (ie, not for profit) and have some of the cost subsidised. I do think that crucial elements of national infrastructure should be tax funded public service operations. But it’s not likely to happen, especially in the current economic climate.

But something should be done to make getting around the city an awful lot cheaper for those who can’t afford it. Unemployed, on national minimum wage or retired? Free travel cards. Low paid? A scaling reduction in the price of travel cards. But this, sadly, is all wishful thinking. The photo is of the Tube at Russell Square.

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14 Comments

  • I too will add a “Great Photo, Gary!”

    As for London’s metro, it is quite fascinating, but as you say, the trains are all different sizes, some of which are quite cramped. And that of course creates a need for the famous, “mind the gap” message.

    I also love the British directness expressed in the “Way Out” signs. Much more colorful than the American-style “Exit.”

    But I can’t imagine that you don’t miss Mexico City’s vendors on the trains, though. What with their soft voices, and soothing music always played at moderate volume, they enliven any ride. LOL….

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where our own metro has spent a fortune in recent years on stations. But rolling stock? That’s another matter.

  • I am always amazed of how all these various infrastructures like the metro in London, DF, New York, massive hiways systems, dams etc, were all built and and paid for in the old days.
    Now if one were to try and build anything new, the costs would not be affordable.

    One of the first things I do when arriving at a new venues is to hop on the local metro. You get both an instant education and see the pulse of the people that actually have to work for a living…..

    • Well when you say Dam I think Hoover, and that was definitely a product of depression. But some fairly grand works are still completed. The M25 London orbital and Channel Tunnel spring to mind. The Mexico City Metro System is pretty new….the first line only opened in the very late 60’s. They’re doing a new line too, although that is having money troubles.

      One issue London does have though, is the fact that so much infrastructure was built in Victorian times when the country was extremely wealthy but not doing an awful lot on the social front. A lot of it needs replacing now, much the country doesn’t have quite the amount of spare cash, cheap labour and lax health and safety standards that aided such huge building projects to be completed.

      The Mexico City metro, by the by, and more so than other MTSs that I’ve used, is a city unto itself.

      • Lookit that nice modern train! One of the problems Mexico City has in subsidizing fares so much is far less revenue to upgrade trains. They’ve put in some nice ones recently and now they’re digging that new line, but the Tube trains look roomier and air conditioned. Any vendors on the Tube?

        • Whether the trains are roomier in London depends a lot on which line it’s running on. Some of the old lines have very tight tunnels, so they can be a little less generous regards space than DF’s carriages. But other lines have fairly big carriages.

          No vendors, and that’s not something I really, really miss! I’d prefer to be able to listen to my own music in peace and quiet! There are buskers at some stations, but they need to pass auditions and be licensed.

      • Won’t be long before you get shot several times in the head for being a terrorist/photographer. Or at least jailed for being a paedophile.

        Got to love the Free People’s Democratic United Kingdom of GB. (New name to come into affect in the coming years)

        • Lol! There are some numbskulls about, but I know my rights, and if I cross paths with one of the aforementioned numbskulls I will exercise my rights….unless they shoot me first, of course.

  • I love the photo of The Tube.

    About the Mexico City Metro: I’ve read that personas de mayor edad, upon showing an INAPAM credencial, can ride free on the Metro. However, as a card carrying expat, I never have the nerve to try this. Intercity buses, 50% off, fine. But as an occasional visitor to Mexico City, 3 pesos is no strain to pay for a Metro ride.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

    • Yep, seniors get on the metro for free in DF. UK citizens do get a bus pass, but the government’s generosity doesn’t extend to the Underground. And 3 pesos is a bargain. Really.

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