Prague: A NYer’s View, Post 1

I’m wandering about in the Czech Republic this week, in Prague. A fabulous city that I highly recommend to anyone wanting to travel in Europe. Very friendly, and even though they have joined the EU still relatively cheap. (Especially if you are used to NYC prices.

For NYer’s perspective on the city I wanted to take a minute to look at the mass transit of Prague.

First off let me say that Prague Mass Transit rivals NY’s for usability. They have subways, buses, and electric trams that run all over the city, and I have heard rumors of a water taxi along the river as well, but I haevn’t seen that one yet. There are only three lines on the subway, and only three points that you can transfer between lines. Each line runs only one train, (think the 7 as opposed to the A,C,E.) But the buses and the trams fill in all the gaps and make getting to and from most places in the city very very easy. They are also a godsend for those moments when you don’t want to climb that damned hill to the castle again…

The interesting thing to a NYer is that it is all on the honor system. No swiping in or out of stations, no gates to pass through, no turnstiles. You but a pass based on a time period, ranging from 30 minutes to a 7 days, and the first time you enter a station, or a bus or tam with a new ticket you time-stamp it. After that you simply have to have the ticket with you until it expires. If you are approached by a transit cop you have to show the ticket, or be fined. You must pay the fine on the spot or it will triple when you go to the municipal house to pay it. Could this ever work in a place like NYC where every bum and teenager would risk riding the train without a ticket in hopes that they wouldn’t gain the interest of a transit cop? I doubt it. It’s a pretty bold system to have in place and I’d love to see figures on how many people “steal” rides daily. (The research that I did turned up lots of sites in Czech, but no figures in English.) What do you think of this system? Am I too jaded in thinking that it could never work at home? Is NY in general too jaded to allow it to work?

3 Comments so far

  1. J$ (unregistered) on June 15th, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

    the buffalo subway runs the same way. you get a ticket and just walk in. only need to show it if a cop asks you.

  2. Tamas (unregistered) on June 18th, 2007 @ 7:24 am

    I don’t know about the Prague figures, but in Budapest we have the same system and the estimated number of steal rides here is 15-20%. I think that could be similar in Prague, so it doesn’t work that well. In Budapest the transit company is planning to install turnstiles to the gates…

  3. Irvina (unregistered) on June 20th, 2007 @ 2:52 am

    A Very cool blog! Have you been to California? What’s the price difference between NYC and Cali?

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