All over the world, metro systems have been a lifeline for people. Sure it’s a mode of transport, but it’s also so much more than that. We all have memories associated with metro rides. Coming back home with a loved one, coming back alone after a rough day, or just getting to see so many other people on the same train yet going to different places, all together for a short period of time. Now, if you too have romanticized metros a little (like me), continue on to know more about theworld’s busiest metro system.
The Most Popular Metro Systems
Let’s go through a list of some of the most extensive metro systems, counting down to the busiest one.
This is the oldest one in the group, with it being established in the year 1863. It is also second on the list of the world’s longest metro system. It has 11 lines spread over about 402 km.
The London Tube is also frequently studied by researchers considering it is one of the oldest and largest subways in the world.
Shenzhen Metro System
This is the young one of the group. Yet, in the short, while it has existed (since 2004), this metro system has grown to be one of the busier ones. It is in Shenzhen city in China. Its annual ridership in 2018 was estimated to be about 1.8 billion and I’m sure it has only increased ever since. It consists of 16 lines with about 369 stations.
Mexico City Metro
This one is the second largest metro system in North America, only after the New York City metro, and is also known as Sistema de Transporte Colectivo. It began functioning in 1969 and has since then grown with respect to the number of lines and stations it has. There are about 195 stations.
While the Mexico City Metro may have started as a golden child, it has deteriorated to a sorry state now. There have been many accidents and train mishaps which has led to multiple deaths, read this Guardian article for more on that. Its annual ridership in 2019 was about 1.6 billion.
Hong Kong Metro System
Formally known as Mass Transit Railway, this transport system caters to the most of Hong Kong, particularly to Kowloon, Hong Kong island and the New Territories.
It has both heavy rail and light rail lines, with a total of 10 rail lines. Its ridership statistics are as follows- in 2019, around 1.6 billion people used MTR for transport. It was founded in the year 1979.
New York City Subway
This is the largest metro system based on the number of stations it has. It has a total of 472 stations. That is a lot, but it makes sense considering that it was founded in 1904. The New York city metro system is managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and has been a very prominent part of New York City. Most people in the movies have had romantic moments and revelations in the metro. Its become a staple of the city. Its annual ridership in the year 2022 was about 1.7 billion.
There’s definitely a lot that goes on in this metro system, for example, before 2020 (and the pandemic), the New York subway used to have a No Pants Ride held in the month of January. It seems like there’s always something going on here, sometimes it’s the non-fun stuff (like, crimes) but other times, it’s just wholesome interactions. There’s an Instagram dedicated to posting photos of people just holding hands on the metro. Now, isn’t that the cutest thing ever?
This one, located in the capital city of China, is another busy one. It was established in the year 1971 and is the oldest metro system in the country. The Beijing Subway has over 27 lines including rapid transit and airport lines.
Interestingly, before its massive expansion in the year 2002, it only had two lines. Most of this development happened after China won the bid to host the Summer Olympics back in 2008. But that’s a lot of progress. In 2020, approximately 2.29 billion people took a metro ride in the Beijing subway. The rail network covers approximately 1k km. That is a lot of kilometers.
This was the fourth metro system that was built in China (after those in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin). It began operation in 1997. Its annual ridership in 2018 was about 3 billion. Again, one of the major players in this game.
It has about 14 subway lines consisting of 247 stations. Guangzhou is also one of the major ports in China, so this could also be a major reason for its busyness.
Moscow metro, as the name suggests is in the capital of Russia, Moscow. Before the events of last year (the war, etc.), this metro was also a tourist destination of sorts. It is considered one of the most beautiful and splendid metro systems in the world, built in 1935. It exhibits the grandeur you would expect palaces to have, definitely not public transport systems.
Apart from its beauty, the Moscow metro also flaunts a yearly ridership of 2.56 billion people in 2019.
Located in Japan, this metro began operating in 1927. The Tokyo Metro system has nine lines and about 180 stations. This metro network transported about 2.7 billion people in 2019, mostly due to the fact that Tokyo is one of the most greatly populated cities.
Fun fact about the Tokyo subway system, it has implemented a concept, termed, “Oshiya” which translates to People Pushers. Can you guess what this is about? To ensure no is sandwiched between the closing doors of the metro, this crams every last passenger inside to avoid any accidents.
Apart from Tokyo metro, the Toei subway is the other metro located in Tokyo and this one is also equally busy.
This is the busiest metro network in China, and the third oldest one. Its annual ridership in 2020 was about 2.8 billion. Big numbers. It is the worlds biggest metro system based on the route length which totals to about 802 kilometers.
It also has its own mascot- a boy with red, blue and white as the main colors named Changchang. Changchang apparently translates to the happiness, smoothness and imagination that this metro brings to the city. Imaginative.
The World’s Busiest Metro System
Finally, the winner is revealed, this is the busiest metro system in the world. This metro situated in the heart capital of South Korea, had an annual ridership of 2.9 in 2019. What contributes to this huge passenger numbers? Probably the fact that it has a population density of 16k people per square foot.
Here are some of the major perks that the Seoul subway offers-
LCD Screens- From news to stock prices and service announcements, these screens offer you constant entertainment and information.
For the summers and the winters- There is excellent and always functional air conditioning during the summers, along with the facility of heated seats during the winters.
Safety- Crime rates in this metro system are comparably lower than in other systems. So this is obviously an added perk. So one can easily travel at night without the fear of getting murdered, ah, the simple joys of life.
Cleanliness and Hygiene- Authorities have taken it upon themselves to ensure the cleanliness of the stations along with he trains. And there are always new stations popping up that are all sparkling clean.
Connections- There’s remarkable WiFi, and phone connectivity inside these trains. So you don’t have to worry about your calls being interrupted and having to scroll through empty screens at all.
And there’s no stopping this metro system, with expansions continuing until 2025.
Hopefully, this article was an informative one. Now you know something new, you know which city holds the busiest metro system in the world. Sure, you don’t often think about metro systems. But when you do, it is a fun rabbit hole to venture into. Metro trains and stations are so much more than just public transit systems. These systems connect so many people and places and are witness to just the daily lives of millions of people and there is something so magical about this, if you can see past the graffiti and the crowds, of course.
If you want to know more about another magical train ride, check out this article.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the 2nd largest metro system?
It depends on what parameters you’re basing your rankings on. Is it based on the number of stations or the annual ridership? In the annual ridership category, it would be Shanghai metro in China that ranks second.
2. Where does Indian metro rank in the world?
It’s there in the list of countries with the longest metro systems. It ranks fourth, after China, the USA, and South Korea. Hopefully, with all the expansion projects currently being undertaken, we’ll soon be higher up on the list.
3. What is the busiest subway station in the world?
If by ‘busy’ you mean the greatest daily ridership figures, then the Shinjuku station in Tokyo, Japan, is the busiest metro station in the world.
4. Which city has the busiest metro system in the world?
The answer to this question just lies a few paragraphs above. But to help you out, Seoul has the world’s busiest metro system.[amazon_auto_links id="280559"]