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Cities With the Best Public Transit on the Planet

For many would-be travelers, a destination's public transportation is a significant factor in decision-making. Business and leisure tourists want to get to meetings and see sites as quickly and simply as possible. Less time on and in vehicles means more time to soak up all the good stuff - the cuisine, culture, fashion, and nature.

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01Lisbon

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/portugal-lisbon-tram-28-royalty-free-image/596470237?adppopup=true Tuul & Bruno Morandi / Getty Images

Known for its 15th-century voyagers and explorers, Lisbon has always been a city where citizens get moving. Today, the Portuguese capital has a well-organized transit system with charming yellow trams taking residents up and down the city's hills to trains that whisk tourists to places like the picturesque town of Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can get a one-day metro card for under 11 euros, and the city's subway, buses, and trams will be at your disposal. The card also allows you to hop on the Neo-Gothic Santa Justa Elevator, which is over a century old.

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02Sydney

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/sydney-aerial-royalty-free-image/86963021?adppopup=true Michael Dunning / Getty Images

A great way to get an eyeful of Sydney's breathtaking views is to take advantage of the city's public transportation. Australia's east coast metropolis offers visitors and locals many options for getting around, and the rates are some of the most reasonable out there.

An Opal Card gives you access to buses, the Sydney Metro, trains, light rail, and ferries. If you take the F8 ferry, you'll pass by the Sydney Opera House with its beautiful architecture. Lucky passengers might even spot some dolphins.

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03Vancouver

A rapid transit commuter train crosses the Fraser River in British Columbia JoshuaHolder / Getty Images

Van City isn't just one of the most naturally blessed places on earth. Tourists and the people who call this part of British Columbia home also have access to some stellar transportation.

Buses and ferries abound. But fifty percent of all commuter trips in Vancouver take place via cycling, walking, and the SkyTrain. The driverless system is convenient and environmentally responsible.

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04Istanbul

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/young-girl-smiling-and-play-snowball-at-istiklal-royalty-free-image/538814839?adppopup=true serts / Getty Images

The jewel in Turkey's crown also happens to have one of the most comfortable public transport systems with a high degree of wheelchair accessibility and a modern fleet of buses.

Well-maintained trains are almost always on time. If you're a commuter, super clean compartments and stations, as well as entertaining videos on the trains' TVs, are par for the course.

Trams and ferries give passengers gorgeous views of the Golden Horn and Bosphorus, and they whizz past the city's distinctively stunning mosques too. Istanbul is also one of the world's leading cities for external connectivity via air.

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05Moscow

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/novoslobodskaya-metro-station-royalty-free-image/521783092?adppopup=true Jon Hicks / Getty Images

Elaborate chandeliers and historical mosaics infuse Moscow's train platforms with character and aesthetic warmth. The pretty picture just about makes up for the frozen winter temperatures.

Moscow's intelligent transport system (ITS) is highly efficient. And trains and stations are spotless and devoid of alcohol and thuggery as per law.

If you're a Russian literature buff, be sure to make your way to the Dostoyevskaya station, where murals explore the author's writings.

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06Tokyo

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/people-standing-in-subway-car-royalty-free-image/200131295-001?adppopup=true David Sacks / Getty Images

Tokyo is famous for its lightning-speed trains. But the Japanese city's public transit has a lot else going for it. From the helpful assistants that deal with Lost and Found items to the train cars that serve only women and kids, commuter life is safe and orderly. It's also easy on the ears, with passengers showing respect to their compatriots by quieting down.

Along with Madrid and New York, Tokyo has some of the highest rail coverage, so you're never far from a station. To top it all off, commutes are relatively cheap.

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07Shanghai

Passager moving on train station with motion blur. fzant / Getty Images

Drawing inspiration from New York's transit system, Shanghai has long surpassed the Big Apple. You can get around this Chinese megacity punctually, safely, and affordably, which is remarkable considering it's home to the world’s largest population. The city has the largest metro network globally, in a country with the most metro systems.

To manage congestion and pollution, the government has made acquiring a car license plate difficult and expensive. But this doesn't seem to have hampered the overall sense of satisfaction. According to a 2018 McKinsey report, Shanghai residents are happy with both public and private transport.

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08Paris

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/france-paris-arc-de-triomphe-taxi-sign-in-royalty-free-image/549914-001?adppopup=true Roger Wright / Getty Images

Urban mobility is a fine art in Paris. Public transit is très accessible, with metro and rail stations close to where people live and work. Buy a Paris Metro multi-day pass, and you'll easily be able to get around. You can whip across the Seine River past the Eiffel Tower, visit Mona Lisa at the Louvre, or land at the top of Champs-Élysées.

The city has outstanding road infrastructure and developments in shared transport across both bikes and cars—all the better to bump into a potential beau. Paris is also a hub for 330 flight destinations.

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09London

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/london-big-ben-and-traffic-on-westminster-bridge-royalty-free-image/174726708?adppopup=true Sylvain Sonnet / Getty Images

From iconic red double-deckers and Black cabs to the Tube, London's transportation system is renowned. Hop on and off the buses as you make your way between London Bridge and Knightsbridge, or criss-cross the city with the world's oldest underground system. It might be a bit expensive, but it's ultra-efficient and nowhere near ready for retirement.

Stops like Victoria Station can take you across the United Kingdom, from Manchester for a soccer match to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. Don't forget to look for a big-hearted bear at Paddington Station.

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10Singapore

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/chinese-woman-in-car-looking-at-lanterns-royalty-free-image/186578967?adppopup=true Eternity in an Instant / Getty Images

For Crazy Rich Asians fans and fans of superb transport alike, Singapore does not disappoint. The island city-state performs well on all fronts, including the following:

  • Short wait times
  • Low costs compared to average monthly income
  • Fast and uncomplicated switches between modes of transit
  • Feature-rich ticketing systems and apps
  • Sustainability

Residents go from point A to B rapidly and seamlessly. Singapore also uses over 400 cameras to keep an eye on traffic, and raised zebra crossings enable low speeds on roads and greater visibility of pedestrians.

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