New graphic from the Economist. The cost for Hong Kong is interesting, given that its MTR was completely privatised in 2000. Compare with New York’s MTA, which is a (government owned) public-benefit corporation.
To be fair, the way trips are priced is different for the two cities: in Hong Kong your fare varies by distance (paid for using your trusty Octopus card, which by the way is also accepted at places like Starbucks or KFC), whereas in New York it’s a flat rate of $2.25. Economically speaking the Hong Kong method is of course more efficient, while New Yorkers get a better deal when taking longer rides.
In my personal experience, taking public transportation in Hong Kong is a dream–it’s seriously one of my favourite things to do in the city (including trips on the Star Ferry). But in NYC, frustration rules–subway stations are falling apart, there are always delays, and don’t get me started on the number of re-routings done on the weekend… however, the NY subway does run 24/7, and the unique express trains give the satisfying psychological illusion of going fast.
According to wikipedia the New York subway has 1.6 billion passenger rides per year (4th largest in the world) versus 1.3 billion in HK (7th). The top three most used subway systems are Tokyo, Moscow, and Seoul.