Transit Curiosities

I’ve prepared a list of some interesting or amazing transit/transportation systems that I definitely want to visit before I die:

Lausanne, Switzerland – Lausanne Metro

The population of metropolitan Lausanne is just 336,400 people, making it the least populous city in the world to have a metro system.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Serfaus, Austria – Dorfbahn Serfaus

This website claims that Serfaus is actually the smallest city in the world to have a subway system (population 1,300), but it is not a true subway.  It is an underground air-cushioned funicular serving the ski resort area.  Still very interesting!

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Image: Serfaus Fiss Ladis, serfaus-fiss-ladis.at

Boston, MA, USA – Green Line (Light Rail)

The green line of the MBTA network contains part of the original Tremont Street Subway which is the oldest subway in North America.  Boylston station on the green line still looks very similar to when it was first opened on September 3, 1897. Also, there’s some sections which are still existing but abandoned.

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Image: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=48384 user: 3rdrail

Cincinnati, OH, USA – Cincinnati Subway

Cincinnati has an almost complete set of tunnels and stations for a subway system beneath the city that they just couldn’t seem to finish. A heritage society offers tours.  Another reason to check out Cincinnati is for their ambitious new (and for some reason, controversial) streetcar project.

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Image: http://www.cincinnati-transit.net/subway.html

Morgantown, WV, USA – Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit (WVU PRT)

This system is the first PRT system ever to be built and it was opened back in 1975. The system is used to move people around the West Virginia University campus.  During off peak hours, each car can be individually programmed to allow the users to go directly to their desired destination without making the intermediate stops – kind of like an elevator.

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Image: http://www.city-data.com/picfilesv/picv29235.php

Pittsburgh, PA, USA – Skybus

Pittsburgh is home to another failed transit project. The Skybus or Transit Expressway Revenue Line which was never completed. The only remainder of the proposed system is a single refurbished train unit on display in front of the Bombardier office outside Pittsburgh.  It is visible from Google maps.

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Image: http://www.brooklineconnection.com/history/Facts/Skybus.html

Suncheon, ROK – Suncheon Bay PRT Project

Same general idea as the WVU PRT in Morgantown but this one is more modern.  I’m not quite sure if it is open or not at this point, but a some point it was open to the public for beta testing. Looks like a really interesting system. More info:

http://www.sc-prt.com/eco/index.php

http://www.vectusprt.com/EN/first-project/

http://kojects.com/2013/09/16/whats-the-story-with-suncheons-prt/

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Image: http://www.vectusprt.com/EN/media/images/

Malacca City, Malaysia – Malacca Monorail

Malacca is the home to a major failure of a monorail system that actually first opened in December 2010, but broke down 21 times in its first year

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Image: http://gondolaproject.com/category/oddities/ by CUP

Pyongyang, DPRK – Pyongyang Metro

The Pyongyang Metro has the distinction of being the only subway in North Korea, as well as the deepest in the world (110 m.), and cheapest at just 3 cents a ride. In typical soviet style, it has massive, beautifully decorated stations.  Interesting fact: it is actually even older than the Seoul subway.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Nancy, France – Nancy Guided Light Transit

Nancy is home to the Transport léger guidé de Nancy (the Wikipedia article in French is much better) which uses the Bombardier Guided Light Transit system. This vehicles look like a tram or streetcar, but are actually special buses that can run on a guided track or not.  Unfortunately the system was not considered successful and is not supported by Bombardier anymore. Perhaps Nancy should have just built a regular streetcar network.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Adelaide. Australia – O-Bahn Busway

Adelaide is home to the O-Bahn Busway which is one of the world’s first bus rapid transit systems.  It is unique in that the buses run on a specially built track – but can still drive on the road. There have been a number of incidents of people trying to drive their cars on the tracks.

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Image: Mike Burton,The Advertiser

Melbourne, Australia – Melbourne Tramway Network

The Melbourne tramway network is the largest tramway network in the world. It consists of 250 km of tracks and a whopping 1,763 stations. It is also home to a free tram route (35) that uses very cool, vintage, refurbished trams. Trams and public transit are an integral part of life in Melbourne so it’s no wonder it was voted the world’s most liveable city.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Curitiba, Brazil – Rede Integrada de Transporte

Notable for being the first city to have a BRT system in the world (opened in 1974).  The system in Curitiba has been so successful that it is used by 85% of the inhabitants of Curitiba, and it was made for a fraction of the cost of building a more traditional metro system. It uses bi-articulated buses and has really interesting bus “tube” stations.

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Wuppertal, Germany – Wuppertal Suspension Railway

Wuppertal has a very futuristic looking suspended monorail system that was actually opened in 1901, making it the oldest elevated electric hanging railway in the world. Classic German engineering

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Gumi, ROK – OLEV Electric Buses

Gumi has, since August 2013, two bus lines that are operating electric buses – which in and of itself is not that amazing, but the electric batteries of these buses are recharged wirelessly via magnetic field strips embedded in the roads.  This technology was developed at KAIST and is called OLEV (On-Line Electric Vehicles).

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Image: AFP

Shanghai, PRC – Shanghai Maglev

The Shanghai Maglev runs between the Shanghai Pudong airport and Pudong – offering transfers to the Shanghai metro. It is the fastest commercially operated train in the world, running at 430 km/hr!

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Image: AFP/Getty Images/Mark Ralston

Istanbul, Turkey – Istanbul Metro M4 Line

The M4 line of the Istanbul Metro as of October 2013 travels through the Marmaray tunnel – linking Europe and Asia.  Thus Istanbul is the only place in the world where you can take a subway between two continents!  Istanbul is also home to the Tunel which is the second-oldest underground “railway” in the world (after London’s underground system)  – it is a funicular.

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Image: Reuters

Thanks for reading!

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