The Busiest Subway Systems in the World

people holding handles on subway train

 GCShutter/Getty Images

Subways, also known as metros or the Underground, are an easy and economical form of rapid transit in approximately 160 world cities. After paying their fares and consulting their subway maps, residents and visitors to the city can quickly travel to their home, hotel, work, or school. Travelers can get to government administration buildings, businesses, financial institutions, medical facilities, or religious worship centers. People can also travel to the airport, restaurants, sporting events, shopping venues, museums, and parks. Local governments closely monitor the subway systems to ensure their safety, security, and cleanliness. Some subways are extremely busy and crowded, especially during commuting hours. Here is a list of the fifteen busiest subway systems in the world and some of the destinations that the passengers might be traveling to. It is ranked in order of total annual passenger rides.

The World's Busiest Subway Systems

1. Tokyo, Japan Metro – 3.16 billion annual passenger rides

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is the world’s most populated metropolitan area and home to the world’s busiest metro system, with approximately 8.7 million daily riders. This metro opened in 1927. Passengers may travel to the many financial institutions or Shinto temples of Tokyo.

2.Moscow, Russia Metro – 2.4 billion annual passenger rides

Moscow is the capital of Russia, and about 6.6 million people daily ride beneath Moscow. Passengers may be trying to reach Red Square, the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral, or the Bolshoi Ballet. Moscow metro stations are very beautifully decorated, representing Russian architecture and art.

3. Seoul, South Korea Metro – 2.04 billion annual passenger rides

The metro system in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, opened in 1974, and 5.6 million daily riders can visit financial institutions and the many palaces of Seoul.

4. Shanghai, China Metro – 2 billion annual passenger rides

Shanghai, the largest city in China, has a subway system with 7 million daily riders. The metro in this port city opened in 1995.

5. Beijing, China Metro – 1.84 billion annual passenger rides

Beijing, the capital of China, opened its subway system in 1971. About 6.4 million people daily ride this metro system, which was expanded for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Residents and visitors can travel to the Beijing Zoo, Tiananmen Square, or the Forbidden City.

6. New York City Subway, USA – 1.6 billion annual passenger rides

The subway system in New York City is the busiest in the Americas. Opened in 1904, there are now 468 stations, the most of any system in the world. About five million people daily travel to Wall Street, the United Nations headquarters, Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, or theater shows on Broadway. The MTA New York City Subway map is incredibly detailed and complex.

7. Paris, France Metro – 1.5 billion annual passenger rides

The word “metro” comes from the French word “metropolitan.” Opened in 1900, about 4.5 million people daily travel beneath Paris to reach the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, or the Arc de Triomphe.

8. Mexico City, Mexico Metro – 1.4 billion annual passenger rides

About five million people daily ride the Mexico City metro, which opened in 1969 and displays Mayan, Aztec, and Olmec archaeological artifacts in some of its stations.

9. Hong Kong, China Metro – 1.32 billion annual passenger rides

Hong Kong, an important global financial center, opened a subway system in 1979. About 3.7 million people ride daily.

10. Guangzhou, China Metro – 1.18 billion

Guangzhou is the third largest city in China and has a metro system which opened in 1997. This important trade and commercial center is an important port in Southern China.

11. London, England Underground – 1.065 billion annual passenger rides

London, United Kingdom opened the world’s first metro system in 1863. Known as the “Underground,” or “The Tube,” about three million people daily are told to “mind the gap.” Some stations were used as shelters during the air raids of World War II. Popular sights in London along the Underground include the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Globe Theater, Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square.

Other Busy Subway Systems

The metro in Delhi, India is the busiest metro in India. The busiest metro in Canada is in Toronto. The second busiest metro in the United States is in Washington, DC, America’s capital.

Subways: Convenient, Efficient, Beneficial

A busy subway system is very beneficial to the residents and visitors in many world cities. They can quickly and easily navigate their city for business, pleasure, or practical reasons. The government uses the revenues raised by fares to further improve the city’s infrastructure, safety, and administration. Additional cities around the world are constructing subway systems, and the ranking of the world’s busiest subways will likely change over time.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Richard, Katherine Schulz. "The Busiest Subway Systems in the World." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Richard, Katherine Schulz. (2020, August 28). The Busiest Subway Systems in the World. Retrieved from Richard, Katherine Schulz. "The Busiest Subway Systems in the World." ThoughtCo. (accessed September 23, 2021).

Watch Now: How to Use the New York City Subway