By: Wendy Wu, R.D., M.S.
Topic 1: Transit System
Mass Transit Railway ( MTR-Hong Kong) vs. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA-New York)
MTR vs. MTA. This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Even if you’ve never been in a MTR station, you know that the MTA is disgusting and unreliable. But let me defend NY a little here. NY has the largest subway system in the world, its roughly 70 years older than the MTR, it runs 24 hours and since water runs into the system at all times, rusting occurs much more rapidly.
Why else is the MTA so so so nasty you ask?
1) It’s a homeless persons haven,
2) The riders eat, drink, spit, litter, clip their nails and graffiti all over the trains and buses, and
3) MTA understaffed- not enough people patrolling and cleaning the trains.
Something is seriously screwed up with their budget planning. Who’s pocketing the cash? Largest subway system in the world also makes the most amount of money charging $2.50 USD per ride ($104 USD for monthly unlimited card).
For those of you who have not experienced Hong Kongs’ MTR, let me give you a description. The trains are super clean, air conditioned, doesn’t smell like urine, no homeless people sleeping or pan handling in the trains, runs on time (super efficient), you can understand the announcements, announcements are in 3 different languages (Cantonese, Mandarin and English), there are signs everywhere for you to navigate (Chinese and English), closes at 12:30am for cleaning, you get to watch lovely advertisements and safety videos on LCD screens, customer service is superb, safety officers monitoring the train tracks are very polite, affordable-you pay by the distance (if you travel only one stop, you pay about 50 cents USD), Octopus card is so easy to use, security cameras monitoring trains, and most of the riders follow the rules. One downside though, it’s always packed with people and during rush hour, forget it-its like herding sheep. Luckily, everyone walks super fast. But because it’s always filled with people, a single girl can take the MTR any time of day and not have to worry. The crime rate in HK is also very low; police and security are everywhere.
Octopus Card in Hong Kong
So the Octopus cards can also be used as payment in most convenience stores (7-11 and Circle K), fast food restaurants, supermarkets, on street parking meters and car parks (parking lots). They are the world’s leading smart card payment system and its truly so easy to use. Just place your card on the sensor machine and go. No signing required. What’s even cooler is that if you’re carrying a bag, the card sensor can be detected by placing the bag on the machine. In other words, you don’t even need to take the card out! What’s even more impressive is that the company also makes watches and mobile phone covers to function as a Octopus card or it can be integrated into your credit card (no extra card to carry around). So smart! Oh, I hear the skeptics mumbling something. No, the system is not so sensitive that it will sense your Octopus at a distance. You have to physically place it on the machine for it to be recognized.
A True Story
On my way home one day on the MTR, I stepped into a train and saw some spilled soup on the floor covered by sheets of newspaper. I just ignored it and sat down. At the following train stop, a crew of 3 MTR cleaning team came rushing in wiping up the mess within 2 minutes and apologized to the patrons for the spill. I was shocked! I guess someone from the previous stations told a safety officer and it was communicated to the cleaning team. Amazing! When do you think a MTA worker will notice the mess and actually clean it up?
That reminds me of another time when I actually witnessed a MTA worker mopping the floor but she proceeded to mop the seats with the same dirty mop. They hire geniuses I say. Not to mention most of the station workers have what I call a “shit-face” (excuse my language but there’s no other way to describe them-again, not all, but most) paired with their nasty attitudes.
I mostly blame the riders for why MTA is gross. How many times have you seen kids eat chips at the back of the bus and throw the bag on the floor? Have you ever seen someone masturbate on the train? I have! and it’s gross! Have you ever smelled the stinky pork bun or chive dumpling smell on the 7 train or Q58 bus. Yes? Enough said.
Transportation: Hong Kong wins hands down. New York-“K.O.-ed”.
Did you enjoy this post? It’s only Part 1 of a series. Stay tuned for other NY vs. HK topics including Food, Healthcare, and more!
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