New York City v Singapore Subway Systems

nyc subway

Let’s do something fun. Let’s compare the New York City and Singapore metro/subway systems and declare a winner. (It will be fun, I swear.)


1. Number of people killed

Somebody told me in Singapore that after a number of fatalities from people stepping onto the tracks, within 2 years Singapore had installed glass barriers at all stations to prevent people getting to the track. Looking that up now, it’s only partially true – they were primarily introduced to minimize air conditioning costs in elevated stations.

But in New York on the other hand, there are no barriers at all, anywhere. You can happily hop skip and jump in front of a train in any of the five boroughs, or get into a fight with a crazy person and be pushed onto the tracks, or just be nudged by someone in a rush and topple gracefully into a pile of garbage and mystery water and wait to be crushed by a train delayed by 8 minutes. Honestly, some days it feels like a success just managing to not die on the subway.

The New York subway is run by the MTA, and their strategy for dealing with fatalities is to put up signs telling people to “be more careful”, which they proudly announce reduced fatalities to only 48 deaths in 2016. I’ll repeat that in case you missed it:



At least 3 of those deaths were from people not paying attention because they were reading the safety signs.

Singapore’s MRT on the other hand, go on, humor me, guess how many people it killed in 2016?

You’re correct: zero!!!

As a side note, if anyone wants to see a map showing all the “incidents” on the New York City subway from 2010-2012, made extra terrifying with some fragmented descriptions of each incident, here’s the perfect thing for you. It’s grim.

Winner: Singapore 


2. Ticketing

Then there’s ticketing. In New York, you have to vertically swipe your MetroCard through the card reader. Sounds simple, but you have to glide your card through the reader at exactly the right angle, balance and speed. A fraction off with anything and you’re screwed. Basically, if you weren’t good at the game Operation when you were a kid, you can’t use the subway in New York.

Singapore is like the rest of the civilized world. You have a card that you hold over a reader for an instant, it turns green, you walk through, and your life continues without nuisance.

Winner: Singapore

sg metro

3. Pricing

Pricing is very different too. Singapore has a London-style system where you tap in and tap out and your fare is based on how far you traveled. It’s a fair system that makes sense.

New York has a flat $2.75 fare for every trip whether you’re going one stop to get brunch or an hour and a half from one side of the city to the other. So it’s hard to say which is better. Logically, Singapore makes more sense, but if you regularly travel a long way in New York, you’ll appreciate the NYC system.

Winner: it depends


4. Hours of operation.

The NYC subway runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Singapore doesn’t run overnight. The clear winner here is New York.


Now, to answer the original question of which subway/metro system is better, did you even read the post? Obviously Singapore is better! But New York’s system runs all night and is better value for money if you’re traveling long distances, so if you’re someone who needs to get home from a long distance in the middle of the night, you’re better off in New York. Glad I could answer that question for all the serial killers out there.

Anyone want to defend the NYC subway system? I’m curious if you’ve ever experienced a worse system, because I don’t think I have, not that I can remember anyway.


P.S. Technically 2 people were killed by Singapore’s MRT system in 2016. 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    What if,say, you needed to kill someone a la ‘House of Cards’?


    1. ambigram0 says:

      Excellent point. The NYC subway wins hands down for that. I’d like to see someone try that on the Singapore MRT. They’d just bounce off the glass and it’d be a very different show.


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