Vie de métro

Being reunited with my old friend the tube this holiday has got me thinking about what Londoners absolutely love complaining about – public transport.  Whether its delays, forever rising prices or interrupted service, we all do enjoy a good moan about our beloved TFL.  (Only a Londoner would think to write a song bitching about the underground).  But do we even have that much to complain about in comparison with our neighbours across the Channel?  Having now lived in both capitals and been exposed to the many delights of both systems, I can say that I have formed my jaundiced opinions of their little quirks…

The Tube


The pros:

  • It’s a hell of a lot cleaner and well kept.
  • The lines are generally more modern.
  • It’s far more regulated – overall cheating the system is hard to achieve.
  • There’s no begging in carriages.
  • It’s better lit and doesn’t feel like such a dingy, depressing place to spend hours commuting.
  • Commuters are usually a bit more polite.  The unsaid rule of letting people off first is not taken notice of in Paris.

The cons:

  • It’s an expensive joke.
  • Rush hour is never fun.
  • It doesn’t run all night.  (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE night buses!)
  • There are lots of delays and interrupted service at the moment.
  • Tourists treading on your feet.  I know where I’m going, get out of my way.
  • Strikes cause havoc.  Something I have strangely not encountered yet in Paris…


The Metro

The pros

  • It’s much, much cheaper.
  • You can usually get signal.
  • It’s very regular and pretty reliable.
  • There are more stations (yes I’m lazy).  If you’re ever lost in the city, it won’t be long before you stumble across a metro station.
  • You don’t have to beep out.
  • It runs later at night.  Last metros can be as late as 2 at the weekend.

The cons:

  • It’s pretty filthy.
  • Due to cheaper prices and less regulation, this is where Paris’s homeless tend to accumulate.  It’s not the nicest thing to see commuting day in day out.
  • There seem to be even more tourists clogging up the metro here.
  • There are a lot of nutters on the metro.  This may be a blunt, but it’s so true.
  • Some of the drivers are pretty horrendous.  Jumpy stops and starts are really not what I need first thing in the morning.
  • Commuters can be grumpy so-and-sos in London, but I would definitely not dare cross anyone’s path here.
  • The ‘stand on the right hand side of the escalators rule’ so people can walk up on the left is non-existent.
  • So many people jump the barriers.
  • There seem to be a number of regular suicides on the RER.  Always cheerful to hear about.
  • Some of the lines are rather old.  I do feel slightly nervous every time I use line 11 – it does feel like a carriage may snap off.
  • Rush hour is no fun either.  You can forget having personal space, or generally room to breathe.

So who comes out on top?  I think it’s impossible to say.  Neither the tube or the metro are perfect –   both most certainly have their disadvantages as well as their advantages.  Having said that, I have really appreciated being back on the comparably squeaky clean London Underground (though I have resented all the delays)…  One thing is for sure, public transport is always a great source of discontent wherever you go!


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