World’s Top 10 Busiest Metros

Tokyo Subway, Japan

With an annual ridership of 3.334 billion in 2013, a 1.25% increase from the previous year, the Tokyo Subway is the world’s busiest metro system. The 310km rapid transit network serves the Greater Tokyo area of Japan comprising of 13 lines and 290 stations. The metro system has two operators – Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway.

Tokyo Metro operates nine lines and 184 stations including Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest rail station. Toei Subway, owned by Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation, manages four lines and 106 stations.

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The metro’s oldest line, the Ginza Line, dates back to 1927 when it was opened with the completion of a 2.2km section between Asakusa and Ueno by the Tokyo Underground Railway Company. The Toei subway network became operational in 1960 between Oshiage and Asakusa.

Beijing Subway, China

The Beijing Subway, the oldest metro system in China, recorded an annual ridership of 3.209 billion in 2013, about 30% higher than the previous year. Operating since 1969, the subway system owned by the city of Beijing has expanded to 17 lines and 232 stations covering 465km. The subway system currently boasts an average daily ridership of more than 10 million.

State-owned Beijing Mass Transit Railway Operation Corporation operates 14 lines, whereas Beijing MTR Corporation, a public-private joint venture between Beijing Capital Group Co. and Hong Kong MTR Corporation, operates the remaining three lines.

The Beijing Subway had just two lines until 2001, but major investments were made to expand the subway after Beijing won the bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. It is planned for the metro rail network to cover 1,000km of track by 2020.

Seoul Subway, South Korea

The Seoul Metropolitan Subway, the longest subway system in the world, had a total route length of 940km and an annual ridership of 2.619 billion in 2013, a 6.16% increase in passenger numbers on 2012. The subway system serves South Korea’s capital city Seoul as well as the provinces of Incheon, Gyeonggi and northern Chungnam.

Seoul Subway is operated by multiple operators including Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corporation, Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation, Korail, Incheon Transit Corporation, and other private rapid transit operators.

Seoul Subway became operational in 1974 and has since then expanded to 21 lines (including the Uijeongbu LRT and the recently opened Yongin Ever Line) to carry over seven million passengers a day.

Shanghai Metro, China

Shanghai Metro, China’s third urban rapid transit system to open after Beijing and Tianjin, witnessed an annual ridership of 2.5 billion in 2013, 10.18% higher than that in 2012. Daily ridership peaked at 9.381 million in April 2014.

The metro system, comprised of 13 lines and 330 stations, is operated by two companies, Shanghai Metro Operation Company and Shanghai Modern Rail Transit Company. Lines 1 and 2 are the busiest lines while People’s Square station, with daily commuter traffic of 400,000, is the busiest station on the network. Line 13 is the least busy, carrying 51,000 passengers per day.

The Shanghai Metro is considered to be one of the fastest-growing rapid transit systems in the world and is planned to expand to 22 lines covering a total route length of 877km by 2020.

Moscow Metro, Russia

Moscow metro, Europe’s busiest metro system, had an annual ridership of 2.491 billion in 2013, 1.1% higher than that of 2012. Comprised of 12 lines and 195 stations, it spans a total length of 325.9km and set a daily ridership record of 9.28 million in December 2013.

Opened in 1935, Moscow Metro was the first underground railway system in the former Soviet Union and is owned and operated by state-owned Moskovsky Metropoliten.

Apart from serving Moscow city, the metro system also connects to the neighbouring towns of Krasnogorsk and Reutov. Expansion works are underway, and over 155km of new lines and 75 stations expected to be added to the metro network by 2020.

Guangzhou Metro, China

The annual ridership of the Guangzhou Metro, which serves South Central China’s largest city Guangzhou, increased by 11.35% over 2012 to reach 2.05 billion in 2013. The metro system, operated by state-owned Guangzhou Metro Corporation, set a record high daily ridership of 7.942 million passengers in May 2014.

The metro system, opened in 1997, spans 260.5km and consists of nine lines and 164 stations. China’s first intercity underground metro line, the Guangfo Line which began operations in 2010 connecting Guangzhou and Foshan, is part of the Guangzhou Metro.
The total length of the metro route is expected to exceed 500km by 2017.

New York Subway, US

New York Subway, connecting four boroughs of the New York City including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, carried 1.708 billion passengers in 2013, a 2.83% increase from 2012.

The subway is owned by the City of New York and operated by the New York City Transit Authority, a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and was opened first in 1904.

The subway system includes 34 lines and 468 stations including 60% underground stations. The busiest stations of the subway are located in Manhattan, one of the most populated boroughs of the New York City. Times Square – 42nd Street station, located under Times Square, alone has an annual ridership of 64 million.

Mexico City Metro, Mexico

Mexico City Metro, also called Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, the second largest metro system in North America after the New York City Subway, had an annual ridership of 1.685 billion in 2013, a 4.72% increase from 2012. It recorded a peak daily ridership of 4.4 million in 2012.

The 226.5km long metro system operated by Sistema de Transporte Colectivo (STC) serves 16 boroughs and 41 neighbourhood municipalities in the metropolitan area of Mexico City.

The metro system began operation in 1969 and currently consists of 12 lines and 195 stations, including 115 underground stations.

MTR Hong Kong, China

The annual ridership of Mass Transit Railway (MTR) serving the city of Hong Kong increased by 7.96% to 1.6 billion in 2013. The metro system peaked average weekday ridership of 4.43 million in August 2014.

Operated by public-private company MTR Corporation, Hong Kong Metro generated revenue of HK$39bn ($5bn) in 2013 becoming one of the world’s most profitable metro systems.

Construction of the MTR Hong Kong began in 1967 and the first line was opened in 1979. The metro system, comprising of 82 stations on nine main commuter lines, spans 174.7km of track.

Paris Metro, France

Paris Metro, the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro, recorded an annual ridership of 1.541 billion in 2013, a 1.12% increase from 2012.

Opened in 1900 and operated by state-owned Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP), Paris Metro was designed by renowned French civil engineer Fulgence Bienvenüe and is one of the oldest urban transport systems in the world.

The metro system, also called Métropolitain, has a total route length of 205km serving 14 inner-city lines and 303 stations, most of which are underground.

Three lines (Line – 4, 12 and 14) are being extended and are due to open by 2019, while further extensions are also being planned for other lines.