You know those guys who say everything is better somewhere else.
- the college roommate who says his high school gym is better than the college gym
- the guy who says the benefits were better at his last job
- the guy who says the beer is better at another bar
He’s always trying to one-up everyone and everything.
That’s the guy I’m talking about. That guy is mildly annoying, to put it kindly.
I try not to the that guy, but after today, I feel like I have to be that guy.
The weather today was outstanding, so we decided to head into Philly. We also decided to use public transportation (SEPTA – South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), buying the Independence Pass which enabled us to use all forms of transit for the day (train, bus, trolley, etc.), at a cost of $13 per person. Since there were three of us, it was slightly more than what it probably would have cost us to drive into the city and pay for parking, but it is certainly more relaxing to let someone else do the driving. Plus, we had fallen in love with using our Oyster cards while in London, and wanted to continue using public transit when the opportunity presented itself.
The first part of the trip was fine. Our train into the city was on time, and the train itself was clean and looked fairly new. Score round one for Philly.
After hanging around Rittenhouse Square for a while, we decided to take a bus to South Street. While we certainly could have walked that distance, we wanted to see how the bus system worked, since it was something I probably have not used in 35 years.
All I can say is, major fail for Philly. The bus was supposed to arrive at the stop at 4:21 (according to Google and the SEPTA schedule), and we got there about 5 minutes before that. After waiting for about 10 minutes, I checked the schedule again, and now it said that the next bus was running 5 minutes early and would arrive at 4:46. I viewed it as the 4:21 bus being 25 minutes late, otherwise that would have meant that the 4:21 bus never made its rounds. And coming early makes no sense from the consumers’ side.
We eventually got to our destination and spent a nice late afternoon/early evening walking around South Street.
When it was time to go, we had planned to take a bus to the train station, but the time to walk vs. using public transit was about the same, so we decided to walk. Plus, I had no faith in the bus system getting us where we wanted to be and at the appropriate time.
The train was scheduled to depart at 8:38 (we had not checked the schedule before we got to the station), and it was now 8:45. Fortunately, the train was posted as being 8 minutes late, so we hustled to the stop and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally at 9:05 the train arrived; 28 minuted late. Score another round for London.
So now I’m going to say it.
The London public transit system is much better than the Philly public transit system, and this is coming from someone who loves Philly.
London is about 5 to 6 times bigger than Philly in terms of population, and is a lot older. Based on those two facts, if someone were to ask you, which one do you think has a better public transit system, I think most people would have answered Philly.
To me, however, it’s not even close. In a knockout, it’s London over Philly.
In 11 weeks of using London’s public transit, sometimes multiple times per day, London’s public transit was late just once or twice. In the case of Philly, it was late two out of three opportunities. I know it’s a small sample size, but I’m just reporting on my personal experiences, and that’s how it played out.
So my recommendation is for some key SEPTA personnel to take a holiday to London, and spend some time using its transit system.
I’m sure you will come home realizing how much better SEPTA could be.
(But I should note that Philly is home to the Super Bowl champs, and sort of home to the reigning NCAA men’s basketball championship. Not sure London can match that.)
P.S. The picture is not from today, but just from a quick Google image search. It is interesting to note however, that two of the four trains are late, and somewhat substantially.. More support for my conclusions above.