Moscow's magnificent, two-train-a-minute metro offers lessons for MTR

2018-08-07 10:22:37
Summary:I traveled to Russia to watch a World Cup soccer game - specifically Brazil v Costa Rica - last month and sta...
I traveled to Russia to watch a World Cup soccer game - specifically Brazil v Costa Rica - last month and stayed in Moscow and Saint Petersburg for eight days. Regardless of the difference in size, I couldn't help comparing Moscow to Hong Kong the moment I landed in Russia, in terms of the level of convenience of its transport system for foreign travelers.

The plane I took landed in Moscow at about 5 o'clock in the afternoon; for about 300 passengers there were only five immigration officers to check our passports and one officer was only there for Russian citizens. The process of checking each and every passenger's passport was unbelievably long; I stood in line for two whole hours before it was finally my turn.

I suspect this unusually long processing time might be related to Russia's "visa-free" policy for soccer fans who had purchased World Cup tickets. But I am confident that Hong Kong customs and immigration will do a much better job. In the years that I have traveled through Hong Kong International Airport, I have never seen or heard of large numbers of travelers waiting for hours to enter Hong Kong.

By the time I finally had my passport checked, I found that all our luggage and suitcases had already been removed from the belt and put on the floor of Sheremetyevo International Airport, as it took forever for us to enter the country.

But things in Moscow started to improve from there. Just like Hong Kong airport, passengers can take a fast train directly to the center of the city. I bought a fast-train ticket from a self-service vending machine but noticed you don't even have to buy a ticket, you can just swipe your Visa card when entering the station. This is pretty amazing as it saved so much time and trouble. If a group of people travel together, they can use the same card, just swipe it multiple times. This I believe could be a good idea for Hong Kong.

Moscow didn't stop amazing me; I think one of the best things about Moscow is its subway system. According to the map, Moscow has 12 subway lines, one monorail and one speed rail connecting the airport and downtown.

Many people may have already known that the subway stations in Moscow are magnificent but they may not know that the entire subway system is extremely efficient. I took quite a few different subway lines when I was in the city. Just like the speed train - no ticket? No worries. You can enter by tapping your Visa card with the payWave function. More importantly, a train comes to the station every 30 seconds during the daytime, which is very impressive.

So there is never a large crowd at the station thanks to the high frequency of trains and I didn't see anyone try to force their way into a train which is about to leave, as everyone knows it only takes 30 seconds and there will be another. So even without the screen doors at the platform, I felt very safe. The MTR in Hong Kong is doing a very good job but there is still room for the company to improve; if we can increase the frequency of trains, as Moscow's metro has been doing, it will be even better and there won't be large crowds in metro stations too.

As a foreigner, I was so impressed with Moscow; I like the city very much. I hope Hong Kong can host more of these world-class events. Hong Kong also has great infrastructure and great transport, besides, a large proportion of people here speak English which will be very helpful to foreign travelers. Hong Kong is a beautiful, efficient and safe city, and it has so much to offer beyond being a popular shopping destination. I truly hope Hong Kong can continue to improve its infrastructure and attract more foreign travelers.

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