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Asia: New Media and Entrepreneurship, My Thoughts, Spotlight!

Why I Hate MARTA, Pt. III: Why Can’t We Be Like Them?

The Octopus card for the MTR transit system.

The Octopus card for the MTR transit system.

Okay.

So I was in Hong Kong a little over a week studying abroad. While I was there, I had a chance to use their public transportation system. Now, if you don’t know my feelings toward public transportation, you need to go back and read part one. I was expecting the worst, but instead, I was introduced to THE BEST.

And I mean it.

Hong Kong’s transit system, the MTR, has to be the best system I’ve ever used. Granted, it’s the only other transit system I’ve used, but that’s not the point. The point is, the MTR is so much faster, so much more efficient and so much more dependable than MARTA. And it costs less! A one way trip on MARTA is $2.50. The most I’ve spent on a one-way ticket in Hong Kong is HK$13, which is about $1.69 in the U.S! Key words: “the most I’ve spent.”

As I mentioned before, the MTR is so much faster and more efficient. You have to wait at least 15 minutes for the MARTA train, 12 minutes on a good day, but the MTR trains come every two minutes. And you know how MARTA only takes you to certain areas and you may have to catch a bus or a cab to go exactly where it is you need to go? There are MTR stations all over the most frequented places in Hong Kong and you will rarely, if ever, have to take a bus. I kid you, not.

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You can tap your Octopus card to purchase goods at many convenient stores and restaurants in Hong Kong.

Best of all, the MTR train stations are clean. Trash isn’t flooding the area, I didn’t see any roaches or rats, the handrails on the escalator are sanitized every two hours. It was just awesome. The staff is actually attentive, and on the actual train, there is so much space. By “space,” I mean that there is enough room for a large crowd. And you don’t have to pack yourself into the train with the other passengers, riding around like a pack of Sardines, because a.) there’s another train that will arrive in two minutes or less, and b.) the train is built for the amount of people that use it.

Did I mention that the Octopus cards for the MTR can be used at local convenient stores and restaurants? You can load money onto the Octopus cards, like you would load money on a Breeze card, and you can tap the Octopus card at any place that accepts them to pay for whatever you want to purchase. There is a HK$50 loading minimum, but hey! That’s enough to get you to a restaurant and pay for a meal, just about.

So I sat and thought about it one day, and just thinking about MARTA and comparing it to the MTR made me question life. You mean to tell me that the people of Hong Kong can reach just about anywhere at their convenience for just $1.69 or less? And they’ll be on time for where they need to go? And the transit system is clean?? And the transit cards store travel and leisure money?!

If I was ever “wrong” about MARTA being full of it, somebody please tell me. I’m serious. I really hate MARTA… “Rapid Transit” my foot.

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