8 Fun Facts About Subway Systems Around The World

From London to Moscow to Tokyo, the world’s metro systems are cooler than you might think! Read on for fun facts to know and common announcements to listen for when riding abroad.
Subway systems around the world

Do you ride public transportation on a regular basis? Unless you live in a major city, the odds of you saying “yes” aren’t very high. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, just 11 percent of Americans take public transit on a daily or weekly basis.

In other countries, however — particularly in major European and Asian cities — metro systems are relied upon heavily by large swaths of the population. Each system has its own distinct characteristics and quirks, for better or for worse.

Taking note of these trains and stations, which can differ greatly in both aesthetics and functionality, is a great way to learn more about any given city when you travel. It’s also interesting to hear the announcements made in foreign subway systems, which give you a small peek into the local language.

We’ve compiled fun facts about eight different subway systems around the world, in addition to a common announcement you’ll hear if you visit (and what it means).

1. “Metros” Get Their Names From Paris’ Subway System

Subway systems around the world Paris

One of the original companies to build and operate the Paris metro system around the turn of the 20th century was the Compagnie du Chemin de Fer Métropolitain de Paris. The transit system was often referred to by a shortened version of the company’s name, Le Métropolitain, and later simply Métro. After that, “metro” became the common way to refer to underground rapid transit systems all around the world. Just another trend set by Parisians.

Common Announcement
Attention à la marche en descendant du train.
“Watch your step while getting off the train.”

2. Budapest’s Metro Made The List Of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Subway systems around the world Budapest

Certain sections of Hungary’s capital city, Budapest, have been designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO World Heritage Site. This designation includes the M1 underground line, the oldest line in Budapest’s metro system (built in the 1890s). The metro joins the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue as part of the city’s prestigious designation.

Common Announcement
Kerem vigyazzanak, az ajtok zarodnak.
“Please be careful, the doors are closing.”

3. The London Underground Is The World’s Oldest Metro System

Subway systems around the world London

The London Underground, or “The Tube,” began running in 1863, which makes it the oldest metro system in the world. Budapest’s system is the second oldest in the world, opening in 1896.

Common Announcement
“Please mind the gap between the train and the platform.”

4. Stockholm Has (Arguably) The Most Beautiful Subway Stations

Subway systems around the world Stockholm


More than 90 percent of the Swedish capital city’s metro stations have been decorated by over 150 artists since the 1950s. The result of this ongoing project, dubbed “the world’s longest art gallery,” is stunningly beautiful. Check out these incredible photos by Conor MacNeill.

Common Announcement
Tänk på avståndet mellan vagn och plattform när Du stiger av.
“Mind the distance between carriage and platform when you exit.”

5. Tokyo’s Metro System Is The Busiest In The World

Subway systems around the world Tokyo

The metro system in Tokyo, Japan is the most heavily used in the world, with over 3.3 billion riders in 2013. In fact, out of the world’s 51 busiest train stations, all but six of them are located in Japan.

Common Announcement
電車が到着します (Densha ga tōchaku shimasu)
“The train is arriving.”

6. Moscow Has The Highest Accuracy Rate For Train Times (Allegedly)

Subway systems around the world Moscow

According to Moscow’s transport department, the Russian city’s metro system has the highest accuracy rate in the world. The department says 99.9 percent of its trains have on-time arrivals and departures. But for the sake of media literacy, one should always consider the source when assessing the veracity of information.

Common Announcement
осторожно, двери закрываются (ostorozhno, dvyeri zakrivayutse)
“Caution, the doors are closing.”

7. Prague’s Stations Are Color Coded

Subway systems around the world Prague

The walls of metro stations in the Czech Republic’s capital city of Prague feature bold colors. They aren’t solely for decoration; the colors chosen represent a specific landmark or attraction. For instance, the Hradčanská station features a golden wall, symbolizing the Prague Castle, which is located in the district the station is named for.

Common Announcement
Ukončete, prosím, výstup a nástup, dveře se zavírají.
“Please finish exiting and boarding, the doors are closing.”

8. New York City Has The World’s Largest Subway System

Subway systems around the world New York City

For those of us who live in New York City, the subway system can be a major source of frustration. But it does have this fun fact going for it: it’s the world’s largest rapid transit system, in terms of number of stations (472).

Common Announcement
“Stand clear of the closing doors, please.”

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