Some Observations on Transport Infrastructure

Today I’d like to rant about the ways transport is organised in different places I’ve visited so far.


That’s a country I don’t recommend to visit. And I happen to live there. Main features: each transport type has separate tickets (tokens in case of metro systems) and whole system give me a feeling it’s going downhill. Not to mention that “timetable” is a long forgotten thing and “replacement bus” is what happens only for major disasters.

Kiev aka Capital City. It has all kinds of transport but it’s disorganised:

  • Railroads — shitty. Main station is merged with another station so you have two exits. There is a bus station near main exit hidden inside car parking and you can walk only one road from there. Metro station entrance is located in small building hidden somewhere sideways. It’s the only entrance there and has only two escalators working and no straight connection to that railroad station. I don’t know how it can be made more inconvenient.
  • Metro — okay, it’s there and it works and it works fast. The only downsides are outdated rolling stock (even Kharkiv got more of newer cars) and more advertising than on any Internet site (they even tried to put it on railings and handles inside cars).
  • Airport — main airport (Boryspil) is situated in 20 km from Kiev and you can only get there by bus. Not mentioning that bus station is really a U-turn and you need to cross car parking to get to airport.

Kharkiv. Nothing much to say. While transport generally sucks (and roads are suitable for tank testing grounds only as noted by current Vice Prime Minister) it’s at least well-connected to each other. Also I’d like to note that local government does anything to get rid of trams (and maybe trolley buses). And while statistics says that most busy metro stations have the same load as in Tunnelbanan trains there are twice as short and have bigger intervals.


That’s the place where they put some thought into transport planning.
Everything seems to be connected — Stockholm central hub is amazing and you can go around it via Tvärbanan if you don’t want to go through center. Göteborg has railroad and bus stations integrated and tramway hub near it. Gävle C features quite a picturesque view. Oh, and Tunnelbanan features turnstiles (Ukrainian metros also have them and I’ve heard they started installing turnstiles in Oslo while other places have only validators).

Other places


Quite a good network. The only funny moment moment was when I ask for SL card and got one (later I found out that they had a company named the same way replaced with Ruter # in 2008). And traffic lights for pedestrians are their distinct feature since it’s hard to miss six instalments of them on each crossing with two red lights on each. Looks like Oslo denizens are not so keen to take a hint when it’s not a good time to cross a road. Oh, and their signs hint on drunks crossing the road:


Decent transport network. The only complain I have is that they haven’t connected airport to the city by railroad, but they are working on that.


This is a town with unique feature — it may be the only town having metro system not connected to central railroad station. And it’s also the place where car parking space is rather small compared to bicycle parking. The only bad feature are idiotic traffic lights: they have a timer showing how much time you have to wait or how much time is left to cross the road. It’s a bit unfair to wait for two minutes and have only twenty seconds to cross the road. In any direction. And no button for requesting green light either. And I’ve seen the same gear in Kiev (with similar time limits too).

Conclusion: European transport has to become disunited, replace its rolling stock with stuff from 60s and decimate it too to match superior transport from Ukraine. Well, prices should be dropped too or they should just wait for Ukraine to catch up with them.

2 Responses to “Some Observations on Transport Infrastructure”

  1. Reimar says:

    A general remark:
    Vastly prefer citys with a good train network, mostly because I consider them much easier to navigate for foreigners – busses differ to too much by how you buy tickets, whether you have to signal that you want the driver to stop and how you do that, if and what kind of indication there is what the next stop will be etc.
    And underground usually is _much_ faster than overground.

    My additions:
    Long-distance trains have a pricing scheme as bad as for planes, you need to plan far ahead or you might have to pay a lot. If there is a plane service there’s a good chance going by plane will be cheaper in addition to faster.

    At least the trains have near-reasonable fixed maximum prices. Chances are still you can easily get a flight at the same price (of course only if there are flights between where you are and where you want to go).

    airport only connected to the bus, depending on where you need to go it will take you forever. They have some trains as well, but they are slow. I was quite unconvinced.
    If you’re in a hurry better take a taxi, they are somewhat affordable.
    The airport holds the record for the security queue for me btw., took me 50 minutes to get through (and if flying there from Frankfurt at least you will have to go through security _twice_, with the last one directly at the gate and no toilet after it).

    You’ll have to do most by bus, especially the main airport. At least it does not take that long to get there. The S-Bahn would be fine although not too fast if they haven’t managed to almost shut it down with mismanagement and corruption.

    Rather nice Tube system for tourists at least, despite the frequent repairs. If you are in a hurry you should better know which lines are fast and which are slow though… The “Oyster card” means that you can travel without having to worry about buying tickets or knowing beforehand where you end up when getting on a train and automatically limiting your per-day travel costs to a (for tourism) reasonable amount.
    Travelling to the countryside however gives you the choice between going by coach (bus) or rather expensive.

    San Francisco:
    For the US I guess an awesome public transport. Haven’t used it much, but if you want to go by bus you should absolutely know that you won’t get any change! On the plus side, the second time you only have 5 dollar bill there’s a chance the bus driver lets you in for free (happened to us :-))

  2. Kostya says:

    Okay, here are some updates:

    Ukraine is especially not a good place for foreigners who don’t know Russian/Ukrainian or Cyrillic letters at least. There are some improvements though because some football even will be hosted in some Polish and Ukrainian cities (hopefully).

    Ukraine has a wide variety of buses — from Russian minivans ( to a bit spacier ones ( ). Full-size buses can be seen but they are mostly used on intercity routes.

    Ukrainian trains use quite different scheme — you have to pay a lot if you buy ticket in advance and it’s very hard to buy it just before departing. And I’d travel by Swedish trains any day. Money never were an issue to me (lack of money is another thing).

    Flights may be fast in principle but they are quite inconvenient — check-ins, baggage limits, security control, pressure and humidity changes. And inconvenient seats.

    I’m rather tall and thick so travelling by bus or plane is quite bad for me since it’s hard to fit and nowhere to put the rest of feet. And again I must note that while Swedes are not usually that tall they build trains where I feel comfortable. Ukrainian trains are abominations and I still have nightmares about some of those train rides.