Riding the subway in Seoul showed me how far behind New York is

As someone who lived in New York City for over a decade, I’ve relied heavily on the subway system there. But as much as I appreciate the MTA, it’s not the most sophisticated or technologically advanced service in the world. A recent trip to South Korea made me realize that it may be time for NYC’s subway system to get a major face-lift.

Here are some of the things I found really interesting:


The differences are obvious from the beginning of each trip. You don’t need to buy a separate ticket if you download the subway app. It saves a lot of time.

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But if you want to buy tickets and don’t have change, you can use this to get singles. it saves you from carrying change.

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The stations are full of big, widely touted subway maps. They helped me find my way to the right train.

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This is the platform. These screen doors prevent people from falling onto the tracks. It saves a lot of people from getting injured.

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These screens show where the train is in real time. It gives you an idea of how much more you need to wait on the platform.

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There were tons of screens all over the station. Lots of opportunities to sell ad space.

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Vending machines were pretty common. Some stations had convenience stores on the platform.

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The train’s finally here! See anything strange?

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That’s right — no driver! Apparently, it’s safer and more cost-efficient to go driverless.

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Screens in the subway show the exact time and distance left to get to your next stop. I was headed to an area called Gangnam to tour the Google Seoul Campus.

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The shows on the screen kept me entertained …

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And of course, the Wi-Fi connection was solid.

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Interesting behavior: Corner seats are left empty, even when the train is packed, so seniors or pregnant women can find them.

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Finally, time to get off. It tells riders which side to exit from.

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On my way out of the station, I saw this “3D Holovision” advertising screen. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working when I was passing by.

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But there was this full-wall screen that ran ads 24/7.

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There was also this moving walkway for slow walkers, like me.

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The escalators don’t move until someone steps on them. That saves a lot in energy costs.

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I stopped by the bathroom, and surprise! It was really clean! No sketchy people or trash strewn all over the floor …

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But this was a little odd. Some bathrooms didn’t have toilet paper and sold them in these vending machines instead. The machine sold things like gum, Listerine, and … condoms.

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The yellow line is there to help the visually impaired find directions. It led all over the station.

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I needed this station map to find my way out.

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Finally found Google’s Seoul Campus. That was a fun ride!

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