One inescapable aspect of city life is our journey to and from work. After finishing our morning tea/coffee the inevitable commute to work greets us with a series of repetitive journeys. So dull are our route to work that the slightest event in our trip will result in a day’s conversation piece with fellow co-workers. The average Warsaw inhabitant travels 20 minutes to work, so 40 minutes a day and 200 minutes a week wasted just getting around listening to inane radio stations. In London its 45 minutes per journey, over double the time than in Warsaw! Most Poles would probably find this statistic strange as the amount of underground lines are very different and the general perception of traffic in Warsaw is very bad. However, when I moved to Warsaw I thought that the transport network was pretty reliable and efficient and I must say that even now I feel that transport is of a high standard here even compared with London, or dare I say it, even better! Yes, I shall do the unthinkable and prove Warsaw has a better transport system than London. First battle-journey time. We must realize that the size of both cities is incomparable. London is at least five times the size of Warsaw, in size and population, and is the largest urban area in Europe. Just the sheer area of the city means that it takes a long time to travel across the city. When I lived in London I always gave myself an hour to get anywhere. Even if this meant travelling to work or just meeting friends somewhere, the time it took was always the same…an hour. If you worked later than midnight then you can add 30mins to that time and if you had to take a bus even longer. While Warsaw is smaller, more compact and 20-30 mins is the norm. Of course this depends on the area and what road is under construction at that particular time. However, I never feel that I can read enough of my book in Warsaw. By the time I look up from my page the bus is approaching my stop. In London I have read the entire paper en route to work, leaving me with just reading the advertisements or staring at people on the way home. Therefore it’s clear that Warsaw wins hands down this battle even if size plays its part, also if you run out of something to read in Warsaw there are TV’s to stare at with useless information! Warsaw 1 London 0.
Second Battle-condition of transport. One thing both cities have are new buses and new underground trains. The current fashion is to buy slick new vehicles that have all mod cons including TV, air conditioning and the accordion middle section to help go round corners. London has spent 7 billion on improving the tube network and have introduced lots of new vehicles to its daily commute. Warsaw too has introduced new super trains like SKM, super buses and brand new trams. Probably with the Olympics and Euro in mind. However at a price. Both cities have raised their ticket prices to use these vehicles and it begs the question why? Air-conditioning doesn’t work if every 2 minutes the doors are opened and these stupid TV’s make money through adverts, another method to barrage the average commuter with more pointless coercion. Regardless, the efforts of both cities are noted and the level of comfort on public transport is certainly increasing. Warsaw wins this battle though, London got rid of the historic double-decker bus but Warsaw still has its Icarus. A cool city has the blend of old and new, new and newer is boring. Warsaw 2 London 0.
Battle three-prices. Thank you city president/mayor another great reason to take the car in the morning. Why sit next to some smelly drunk, homeless guy on the bus when I can stick on an AC/DC greatest hits album and air guitar my way through the traffic. Even though in both cities traffic jams are bigger than the value of Greek debt, this is one aspect where I dislike both cities. Simple business acumen will tell you that if you raise prices you sell less, If you decrease prices you sell more. Public transport is now a profit-making industry so expect worse service and less value for money. It really annoys me that in England the railways complain of less passengers but then hike up prices twice that of inflation, even in an economic crisis. Trains in the UK are privatized and this has spelt disaster for standards and cost. Although begrudgingly trains are of high quality. In Poland the trains are public so even though fares are high they are not substantially high, they are affordable. Plus if you book in advance you can get a discount. In England if you book in advance there I more probability of double booking that seat. Having said that Warsaw transport costs are higher than ever and people have been outraged but London has the most expensive underground in the world, even more expensive than Moscow and isn’t that made from gold! Warsaw 3 London 0.
Battle four-service. This is a no-brainer you will say. Ask anybody from Warsaw about the standards of service and they will tell you how bad it is. We still have a communist mentality they say. Yeah, but now we can buy tickets from robots who don’t have an attitude! London is exactly the same. In fact I understand the ticket office sellers better in Warsaw than I do in London, underground staff are from all over the known world, maybe even further than that. Trying to buy a ticket on the underground is nigh on impossible, there are a million different tariffs, each as over priced as the next. Even in Warsaw they have increased the complexity of buying a ticket. A 20 minute ticket is so ridiculous! If I go by bus on this ticket on Torunska at 17 there is no way I’ll be within that twenty minutes. What if I am diverted through Marynarska by accident, no chance. All in all bus drivers in Warsaw are not the friendliest people and neither are the ticket inspectors I see once a month. In London bus drivers always say hello and then sing-along to their favorite Sting songs while the rain pours down, priceless. Warsaw 3 London 1.
Battle five-reliability. There may only be one metro line in Warsaw but it is 1)efficient, 2)fast, 3)simple and 4)clean. In comparison there are 15 underground lines in London and it is the second largest underground system in the world. I have never waited more than 5 minutes for a Warsaw tube train save at 3 o’clock in the morning. While in London I have sat on the floor at Kings Cross waiting 20 minutes for a Northern Line train to High Barnet. It’s bigger and more complicated in London, lines cross over, dip and bend and split into two, all of this must be marshaled and controlled. Compare that to Warsaw, train goes up and then comes down…it’s so simple. Soon there will be a new line, trains go east and then go west, brilliant. Buses in London are a law of nature all to themselves, they never come and suddenly three arrive at once. In Warsaw I look at the time of the bus and pretty much 99% of the time they will arrive within a minute or two, actually they are damn reliable. The only problem is that if you’re at a request stop your only about 9% sure that they will stop. Still you get on, get off and don’t queue. It’s so much more advanced than London’s civilized yet fruitless queue and be polite, talk with the driver because it is polite and waste lots of time. Easy decision Warsaw 4 London 1.
As you can see Warsaw has destroyed London in the transport stakes. I have even heard absurdly that London has won awards for its transport network, probably awarded by the Mayor of London himself or one of his friends. Here I think you will agree I have conclusively proved that these are false prizes and London should hand over their silverware to the far more simple network of Warsaw. I will take the crazy system of traffic lighting and the craziness of a Warsaw driver from the comfort of my newly upholstered bus seat in Warsaw anytime over its London adversary. OK so there is only one metro line, most buses are old and in need of changing and during rush hour it’s over-crowded but it is nothing compared with London. In the summer I have seen people literally feint in tubes from exhaustion and queue to get into underground stations themselves! I will take the simplicity everytime, or maybe I have just got used to it. Either way I have conclusively proved that Warsaw is better at transport than London, of which I’m sure you will agree.