What impresses me about the Paris Metro system is its frequency and extensiveness. With 16 lines that run within the city and several others that serve the suburbs and neighbouring towns, seriously, who needs a car here? There is almost no way you can’t get to a place in Paris on a metro. Most stations are within walking distance apart from each other. The sheer convenience of knowing that more than one metro station is really near you solves plenty of commuting problems.
And in terms of frequency, trains run at a maximum of 4-minute and 10-minute intervals during the day and late in the night respectively. Quite impressive for a metro system that’s more than a hundred years old.
In comparison, Singapore’s state-of-the-art MRT system that boasts of modernity, experiences hiccups and I swear, I once waited for 20 minutes for a train. Ironically, a newly built line can actually break down during peak hour , leaving hundreds of commuters awfully stranded. Wow….whatever the Parisians are feeding their trains are really increasing their longevity. Maybe we should send some industrial spies over.
And have you tried walking from say City Hall to Raffles Place or Harbourfront to Outram. Pretty ‘near’ huh?
And it kinda sucks if you live in Changi. For now.
However, the very fact that our MRT stations are graffiti-free and our trains have more sitting and standing space, speaks volumes about Singapore’s sleek and practical image. The same cannot be said of the Metro.
Furthermore, all our train doors are fully automated but in Paris, one must either pull a lever (which sometimes can be quite annoying) or press a button on the door to get in or out. There are some modern trains that ply on a few lines that have automated doors but they number far and few between.
Also, since SNCF (the French national train company) train drivers frequently go on strikes to demand more pay or privileges, commuting becomes a lot less predictable. Especially before the holidays. These drivers are quite smart and also quite stupid at the same time.
You see…free rights is a social concept that, I believe, 99% of all French take very seriously. In my opinion, some of these people actually abuse it, like the train drivers. They think that as a collective, they are more powerful than their employer – SNCF. This makes some sense because fast commute is indirectly responsible for a country’s or city’s economy. They have some leverage. However, I’m just thinking….with the prevalence of driver-less trains (which, ironically, are mostly manufactured by a French company – Alstom), wouldn’t these fools lose their jobs if SNCF modernises its fleet? If I’m the boss of SNCF, wouldn’t I be saying to myself,”Hey, these human drivers are causing so much trouble. I’ll just buy more driver-less trains and screw them!”
Unlike Singapore, sometimes you’ll have the homeless and beggars loitering around, in and on the train platforms of the metro stations. Once, there was a guy who dragged his portable karaoke machine into a carriage and let loose his ‘singing prowess’, before asking for money.
Newspapers lie around empty seats and the occasional half-eaten cupcake lies squashed on the train floor.
The smell of urine and grimy railings are also regulars on the Paris metro scene.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not slamming the Paris metro. I still like Paris, but my point is often Singaporeans just bitch too much about things back home. “Oh, why can’t I eat on the train? Oh, our train tickets are too expensive and blah blah blah…” It costed me more than 2 Singapore dollars to travel between three metro stations here, dickhead!
Let’s face it. No system is perfect. Singapore is, to me, a real victim of its own successes. In fact, just a couple of hours ago, I was talking to a couple from New York holidaying in Paris and they actually commented that the subway in New York is similiar to the Paris metro, except for the fact that in Paris…..it’s cleaner!!! WTF?!
True. These folks have not been to Singapore but clearly I was shocked because obviously, the word ‘cleanliness’ is defined extremely differently by me and as with many Singaporeans. So before you the Singaporean start practising your favourite hobby – i.e. complaining, have a look around the world first. We are fortunate and the PAP is not the devil. Tssssk.