Hello, hello, guys. Welcome back to another episode of the Big Apple School podcast where the goal of the show is to help you improve your English listening skills through listening to us, of course. Today we're going to talk about the subject of public transport and infrastructure in general. We have three wonderful guests today. Our first guest today is...
And last but not least...
Excellent. So this topic was suggested by one of our listeners, and thank you very much for making that suggestion. So if you guys have any suggestions for future podcasts, we'd love to hear from you in the comments section. So, public transportation and infrastructure in Novosibirsk. How do you guys get around Novosibirsk? Do you guys walk mostly or do you have experience on the transport?
I'm walking mostly. I haven't tried transport yet.
How come? I mean, you've been living here for, like, half a year now.
I'm just walking. It's a flat city. It's easy to go around. Unlike Istanbul. Yeah.
And taxi. Uber or Yandex Go.
So you have never been to such parts of the city as Akademgorodok?
Okay. Yeah, we've got to take you there.
Who are not in Novosibirsk, Akademgorodok is about, what, like an hour and a half away? An hour away?
Yeah. And it's this is the part of town, of course, where intellects convene and where university students generally live... And you have ... What is it? Novosibirskiy Gosudarstvennyi Universitet. So it's a nice part of town.
Oh, not only the State University, but there are almost 20 or even more than 20 research institutions. So...
Yeah, beautiful. And it's a nice part of town as well.
Varya ...Have you had any experience?
Yeah ... I was very worried about taking the metro here cause I didn't want to get lost. Nina, our colleague, kept saying to me "No, you're not going to get lost". I was asking for a map. Is there a map? Metro map! And she said there's just one like the one track there. Yeah, sure enough.
It's pretty easy. The metro in Novosibirsk and it's good quality, it's pretty cheap. It's 27 rubles, I believe, and it's clean. I haven't seen any rats on the metro yet, whereas in other cities that's a common sites. Like in London, you'll see the rats. In New York you'll see the rats.
Oh, New York, you'll see.
Rats are not the worst things that you can see on New York City's subway.
Yeah... So, Katya, you've lived here for a while...
Yeah, of course. So I've used all means of transport over here right now. I mostly use the underground, so... Most of the time. Sometimes I would take a bus or what we call a marshrutka.
What, by the way, would be a good word for that, because I used to explain it as a shuttle bus.
Dolmuş. We call it Dolmuş in Turkey.
It's kind of similar meaning, I guess in here you're using this like in a similar way, I guess. Dolmuş.
Oh, interesting. I would just call it a minibus.
I heard something like a minibus.
A minibus that travels on a designated route.
Yeah, that's what a minibus would do.
Yeah. Oh, I thought a minibus was just like a mini van. Which, which, which is just like a car.
Certainly, but that would be a like a van.
Minivan. Yeah. Yeah, this is a mini bus.
Yeah, it's like a mini bus basically. And everyone crams on board, which means that they come together very tightly and... yeah
Yes. And they tend to be more expensive than the busses.
Oh God. Yeah, yeah. In their it depends on the distance. So, for example, to go to Akademgorodok, you would need to pay 55 rubles one way. To go to the outskirts of the city, it's usually like 60, 65 rubles. I think around the city it's now 35.
It is 35. Yeah. I've been on a few marshrutki recently. Well, mini busses, let's call them and it's generally 35 rubles, which is kind of a lot more expensive than normal busses.
But still, you know, some of my friends who come to visit Novosibirsk, they say your public transport is so cheap.
Comparing, you know, to Moscow, to Saint Petersburg, to other parts of Russia. It really is affordable.
That's one thing that really has impressed me about Novosibirsk is how cheap and relatively reliable public transportation is here. So... yeah. Thumbs up to Novosibirsk for that. Yeah... One other thing I've noticed. So... speaking back again, speaking of marshrutki again, the minibuses. I've noticed that here in Novosibirsk you pay when you get on the bus or when you have settled in, when you've found your seats or your place to stand, and then you have to hand the money over to the driver, which can be really complicated if there are about five or more than five people on the bus. So, in Novosibirsk you pay when you get on the bus.
In other cities... I just went on holiday to Chechnya and to Dagestan. And there I noticed something completely different. You pay the driver when you get off the bus.
It is a situation in many other cities as well. So I'm originally from Yakutia. So in there you also pay when you get on the bus ... oh, get off the bus.
Yeah. When you get off the bus. So how do you know? You just have to do your research before you go to a city or you just ask?
I guess you can just ask the driver.
You'll notice, you know, you'll see...
What people are doing. Yeah.
Because when I was in Grozny I tried to pay the driver when I got on the bus and he just waved his hands like, no, no, no. And an old lady was very nice and told us, yeah, you pay when you get off the bus.
Yeah, that's what I noticed when I was in Omsk. I got in.. See... In the United States, I should start off with that.
You, you enter from the front of the bus, pay the bus driver, and you find your seat and get off in the back. There's a back door. But when I was in Omsk, there was a back door and people were going in the back door. I thought, how am I going to pay? How am I going to pay? And then I saw this woman walking... I called her... In my mind, she looked like a conductor.
So, she's a conductor. And that's what you do is you pay while she's walking up and down the aisle, I thought that was very strange.
I was very confused as well. When I first came here. I didn't understand what these people were doing. And, also, what I didn't understand was that they have specific seats, the conductor has their own seat and usually there's a little pillow.
And don't you dare sit there.
Yeah. Um, so, yeah. Um, so with the marshrutki... What's the furthest distance you've been in a marshrutka?
Well, nothing is gonna beat your experience in Dagestan, I guess. I think the longest one, the longest distance would be around 55 kilometers. That's it.
Yeah, 55 kilometers. That's pretty... It's quite a distance.
Yeah. The longest one I did was 4 hours, which was kind of torturous. And the...
With the minibus? Or a bus?
4 hours, it was from Makhachkala to Grozny and it was pretty... yeah, pretty hardcore. Um, so what else do we have here in Novosibirsk?
Yeah. I've had a lot of experience on the trams here. Well, have you... You haven't been on any trams, have you?
I used to take the tram to work.
Which was, you know... you always, you know. It was either a lucky day and you would, you know, see this tram coming after 5 or 10 minutes, waiting on a bus stop or a tram stop. And sometimes you would be unlucky and it wouldn't come at all. And you'll be like what the hell is happening, so then I would have to run to the metro station and then from the metro station to work. Ohh.
The trams, unfortunately, are not quite as reliable as the buses or the metro.
And the thing is if one of them breaks down, it blocks the whole system.
Like none of them are going then.
Yes. I used to get the number 13 tram to work sometimes but this is one of the major routes in Novosibirsk for those of you who are not familiar. But yeah, it would break down every, every few days or so, and the driver would say, yeah, everyone get off the tram and there would be chaos everywhere and people would be miserable. And yeah... And then also here in Novosibirsk, we have trolleybuses.
Yeah. Any thoughts about trolleybus? Do we have trolleybuses in America?
I'm thinking about San Francisco, which of course has the cable cars.
Which will have a short destination and have a little turn around stop. And then the electric buses, which sort of sounds like what you're talking about.
Yeah, they are electric. So they have, I guess you would call them the receivers.
Yeah. Which are connected to the wheels.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. Wheels like a normal bus. Yeah.
And in San Francisco, they come like every few seconds. It was very reliable transportation.
Oh,cool. Well, we're going to talk more about transport in different cities. Yeah, in depth. So I want to hear more about your experiences in San Francisco. Um, yeah, the trolleybuses, they're quite old here. They're quite cool. I love...
We have very different definition, you know, of cool.
I am an aficionado of old Soviet transport and yeah, it is beautiful in my opinion. I love how they keep the old buses and the old trams here. It's... yeah, it's like history. Whereas in London...
Right, cause history is exactly what they keep in mind. Exactly. Sure.
Whereas in London you have these brand new plasticky things and it's not as esthetically pleasing to me. Maybe...
Are you talking about... What type of transport are you talking about?
All transport.. So, new busses, new underground trains, just...
There are no trolleybuses or trams in London.
In London we do have trams in the southwest, so... No, southeast, southwest. So, Croydon, are you familiar with Croydon?
Yes, exactly. So there's a tram network around there, around that part of London, but it does not go to central London. Extremely expensive as well.
Well, like everything else in London.
Well, I just want to make one note here. We in America call it transportation. We don't say transport.
So I'm always waiting for you to finish your word.
Yeah, that's like.. yeah...
It's like math and maths.
I did not even... I did not even know that.
Yeah, of course. So another difference between...
So you would call it public transportation?
What mode of transportation will you take?
Oh, so yeah. One of the many differences between British and American English. Yeah, well, like I've said before, I recommend learning the American words first, because in England we understand the American words. In America they do understand...
But it doesn't work the other way.
Well, in America, of course, people understand us most of the time, but people might find it a bit strange sometimes... so...
Well, they would correct you, you know. And you'd be like "Oh no, I made a mistake". Only then, five years later, you understand that it was not a mistake.
Exactly. I worked in a hotel in Vegas for two years, and I used to ask guests, what is your surname? And the manager pulled me aside and said "Hey, you have to"... cause in England we say surname. And they said "No, you have to say 'What is your last name?'".
Because foreign tourists might not understand what you're saying. And I just automatically said surname. So yeah, surname — England. Last name — America. Anyway, coming back to transport. So let's talk about your hometowns. So, Ugur. Istanbul. What's the transportation like there?
Yeah, yeah, it's. It's a kind of big city, as you know. And you can wait there... The subway, you can wait... The buses like more than 30 minutes. So people are kind of packed into the buses and it's kind of chaos. But it's... It's running in a way.
Yeah, it runs. It works. Yeah. Is it modern or is it...?
It's kind of modern. It's good. Modern. Yeah. We had like the hook and the electric cable buses.
Yeah, the trolleybuses in the past. But I guess they replaced it right now.
Trams, yeah,we have trams.
I mean, the famous...the famous red ones.
I was... One of my students recently went to Turkey and he was telling me about some... I have no idea what that is. But he explained it as some sort of a tram but underground that goes from the bottom of the hill to the top of the hill.
You know, a student said to me the other day "I was on the funicular", and I didn't understand what a funicular was.
We do have this word in Russian.
But it does actually, I looked it up. It does actually exist in English, which I was surprised. Have you heard of a funicular before? Okay. Yeah, I hadn't heard about it until... was it like three weeks ago, two weeks ago. So it's a small car...
As you said, it's going down to up to the hill, like for 10 or 15 people maximum.
So for those of you learning English, which is most people listening to this podcast, except for probably my mom. Do not use the word funicular because most people do not understand what it means unless they live in, I guess, Istanbul or another place which has this. Okay. Is public transport safe in Istanbul?
Yeah, I guess so. It's safe, but it's so crowded. That's the biggest problem. So people need to wait a lot in order to get the empty bus or empty wagon or car. You know, it takes time to just get from one place to another place, like an hour and an hour half or something.
Yeah. Oh, and what about the price?
I don't really know the exact price, but as far as I know, it was kind of reasonable, not so expensive, but not so cheap. It was on the middle. In the middle...
It's not going to cost you an arm and a leg to, you know, to go to work every day.
Yeah. Taxis as well. So I've heard that they could be quite complicated in Turkey.
Taxis... Yeah. It depends who is in the taxi. If you're a tourist, alright, you're totally ripped off, you know, and the taxi driver understands, alright, you can't speak Turkish and says okay, we are alright today. If I get two passengers like this one so I don't need to work more. So yeah, it's kind of yeah, it's a kind of rip off mechanism.
Well, so I know there's a new airport in Istanbul.
It's completely outskirts of the city. And it takes minimum 2 hours to reach the city center. And you pay if you take the taxi, you need to pay around like 50 U.S. dollars.
Oh, my God. That's for tourists or for locals?
No, no, no. For everyone, but for tourists... maybe you can pay 75 or even 100.
75, I think, you know, it's it's going to be like, oh, you know, it's so far away... 200.
Easily. I think it's easy.
And, do you agree to the taxi fare before you go or do they have a taxi meter, which is the digital..?
It depends. Most people just they try to make a bargain before getting into the taxi. All right, I want to go to this neighborhood. How much do you think it will cost? And they can just hold the price with the taxi driver. But if you just stick with the taxi meters, it would be more expensive than the bargains price. So, it depends on the taxi driver.
And if you like a hit... someone who is just travelling through you're a student, you don't have much money and you fly into ... what's the new airport called in Istanbul?
Okay. So Ataturk's the old one.
Okay. So can you get a bus to the city center or... ?
I guess they have a shuttle bus, but it's not like in every 10 minutes or every 30 minutes or whatever. I guess you need to wait at least one hour to get one, which goes directly to the city center. But it's not, it's not kind of convenient. You have to wait.
But it's much cheaper, of course. Yeah.
Yeah, when you compare with the taxis.
Like ten bucks or something like that.
Around, around, around. So ... yeah, I guess so. Not so expensive. Like taxis.
Well, yeah. Well, a lot of our listeners probably have been on holiday to Turkey because a lot of Russians go to Turkey. So let us know your experiences of the Istanbul network or if any other Turkish city. Is it the same in most Turkish cities, the taxi situation?
No, no. For example, in capital Ankara.
All the prices are like kind of half cheaper than Istanbul.
So if you're going to travel to Ankara, the capital city, that's much more convenient for you to save money. But if you're travelling to Antalya, it's worse than Istanbul, you know.
So it's a touristic city. Antalya Airport is kind of, as you said, cramped. And people are just trying to pick the taxi and just reach their hotels as soon as possible. So the price increases, you know? So Antalya and Istanbul, kind of expensive.
Oh, cool. Well, later, we're gonna ask you about of the cities you've lived in. We're going to ask all about that. But moving on to... Well, we'll come to you, Katya... So your hometown... tell us about your...
What do you consider to be your hometown?
I was trying to think. Yeah, mostly I've lived outside the city, so I always had a car. It was always by... Commuting by car. But there have been times where I lived in the city well one transportation. What commute... Can I talk about commuting?
When I was dancing in San Francisco and lived in Palo Alto, which is like 20, maybe 25 miles down. I would take a commuter train with all the business people.
And how much was the commuter train? I guess it's expensive.
Oh, I'm sure... It wasn't. This was way back in the 1970s or 80s. It was way back when it was not expensive. And that was really nice. And then having... Yeah, and then sometimes I would take a commuter bus all the way up to San Francisco as well.
So, San Francisco has a reputation, I think it has the reputation for having pretty good public transportation in America.
When most cities... Of the New York don't really have that infrastructure. San Francisco of course is famous for its trams. So, have you, I guess. Did you ride on the tram a lot?
And are you talking about the cable cars?
Of course they are. Yeah. Oh, so you don't call them trams at all in San Francisco?
I don't think we. I don't think so. Never heard of the tram.
Is it the same thing or is it?
That's always my question, because when I hear people say tram, I'm thinking, okay, I think they mean it.
It's the same thing because it goes on rails. It has the...
Yeah. It's funny. Well, I guess maybe because there's so many hills in San Francisco.
Yeah, there are seven hills.
Yes, seven. And because it has...
Yeah. But when we're talking about a cable car, it's only one car. Is that what a tram is?
We have only one car in Istanbul.
Yeah. In Novosibirsk too. Usually one.
In Amsterdam, I know, they have like two sections.
Yeah, doubles, so I guess... Yeah, but San Francisco, I believe they still have the old...
Oh yeah. Definitely because it's a tourist attraction.
So cool and and it's open. I mean, there are like no doors, so you just hop on.
Yeah. Hop on, hop off. Yeah. Oh, so.
Oh, we also have a BART. BART stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit and that is a metro that goes under the bay water. The San Francisco Bay from San Francisco to Oakland. Yeah. It goes under water. It was built in the seventies.
And Oakland considered like a second... Another city. But it's kind of San Francisco.
No, it's nothing like San Francisco. But it is a city across the bay.
Yeah, no, I've heard of it. I just didn't know whether to consider it another city.
Yeah, it's own city. Separate. Interesting. And did you ever just get the normal bus?
No. As I say, I've always lived in the suburbs. Or out. I've always driven.
Yeah. So you've lived in a few places. You've lived in Vegas, you've lived in Los Angeles, you've lived in Georgia.
East Coast. West Coast. Any major differences?
No, it's all America, I think.
Yeah .. the buses are. Yeah, I was in Los Angeles for a bit and yeah, there was some dodgy people on the buses and...
Dodgy people that you have to dodge.
Yeah. Well, just yeah, I almost got robbed outside a bus stop in Los Angeles and I had to, yeah. And then, these people come on the buses. It's not... In England everyone gets on the bus. In Russia, everyone gets on the bus. Whereas America, I think...
Cause if you can afford a car, you're gonna have a car, you're not going to...commute by bus.
Cause even wealthy people get on the bus in the UK and...
Yeah, Turkey too, whereas..
If you say in America I'm getting on the bus... Does it have a connotation?
Yeah, it'd be weird like, yeah, I would never get on a bus. No.
I mean, in Los Angeles, from what I remember, it was... Well, over two years ago, something like that. It was $1.50, which was kind of reasonable for America. For one way on the bus.
I remember when it was like a quater at some time. I don't know.
A friend of mine was in Los Angeles not so long ago. Well, in 2020-2021, I think. And at that point, I think they issued a law, so they passed the law that there would be no fare. They were free, the buses were running free because of the pandemic. So, you know, and that friend of mine, he said that he tried to get on a bus but there were so many people just living on buses, you know, so they were sleeping on the seats, so people had to only stand. You couldn't sit down because there was, there was somebody living there.
Yeah, that's awful. Yeah, I mean, I feel bad for the people, but at the same time, it's a bus. You have to get off the bus if you're not travelling somewhere. Yeah. All right. Well, Georgia, same situation.
Yeah. I mean, if you're in Atlanta, you're going to take some kind of bus around. I actually lived in Forest Park, and there was a time where there were no buses.
Is Forest Park in Atlanta?
It's outside. South of Atlanta. And there were no buses for a while, and then we got a bus. But I didn't know anything about the buses, because, as you know, I've always had a car.
Yeah. And why? Why is it so difficult for America to have transportation networks? Why is it..?
I think in the big cities, it's not a problem, but outside as cities spread and people are living in the suburbs. Those are the people that are going to have cars.
Yeah. I remember watching a documentary about the high speed rail between Los Angeles and and San Francisco. It was so expensive. Do you know anything about this?
I think it's because you have to pay so many people to buy their land and there's so many legal issues as well. Whereas in China, you can just tell people, move off the land, we're going to build a train network now. Maybe it's because of the legal system. I don't know.
I don't know. Maybe a lot of people don't have to really give support to, uh, transportation.
Cause they've got cars. Why do they care about bus?
Yeah. And why is America more car centric and less...?
Because after World War Two, I'll go back to... When every when the boys were coming home, as we say, it was a very consumer time where car making and having your own car and driving across the United States. The highway system was established and it's this idea of freedom. And so we're very much connected to our cars.
Yeah, it is freedom. Yeah. That is what America is supposed to be about. Yeah. So that's the... Yeah. All right. And what was the... Can you remember what it was called? There was a federal bill making, building highways...
I just remember that Eisenhower had some kind of funding where he instigated some infrastructure.
Yeah. And I remember the I was reading something about the alcohol drinking age in America, and there's a reason why it was moved to 21 years of age. And it's because of the highway network, I believe. And each state would only receive funding for its highways if they moved their drinking age from 18 to 21. And that's why the drinking age in America is 21 because of the highway system, which was...
Yeah, it's an interesting thing. Can you remember when the drinking age was 18?
My mom, who's from New York, she said she...Yeah. Before, when she was a kid, it was 18. And then...Okay.
Yeah. If you're under 21, you can't drink in America, basically. Oh, yeah. Because, yeah, they don't want people driving drunk, basically. Whereas in England —18. Russia — 18. Because you can get on public transportation and... But you can't actually get on every mode of public transportation if you're drunk. In Russia, apparently, you can't get on the metro. If you're drunk, you have to get on the bus.
I remember, I remember seeing a member of metro's staff here in Novosibirsk telling someone "Hey, you can't get on the metro, you have to go get the bus" As he was pretty drunk and... Yeah. Anyway...
So, Katya, tell me about Yakutia.
Well, it's very easy to talk about public transport. There are buses.
Full stop. That's it. There are buses. There's no other type of transport. There are no trains, no trams. It's physically impossible to build, you know, the rails over there because of the continuous permafrost. So... That's about it. But when I was a kid, the buses were only those old, what we call Pazik. So, you know, those that look like a little loaf of bread, basically so little. And of course, you know, in winter when it's -45, everyone is wearing, you know, big fur coats. It's like a lot of penguins standing, you know, at a bus stop trying to squeeze in. It was brutal.
Does the bus feel extremely hot even in the winter?
Well, yeah. I mean, you can imagine there are a lot of people, you're wearing a fur coat. You know, you're on a bus, so... yeah.
And then the buses would have not one layer of glass, but two. So there would be a second, you know, layer of glass attached to the first one. So yeah, but that was not a problem. You know, you got on a bus... Consider it a happy day, cause when I was going from school, I had to wait for a bus, try to squeeze it. Couldn't. Had to wait for the next one. Couldn't. So yeah...and it was -45 outside... So you're like oh please. Something...
And are the busses reliable? Are they frequent?
Nothing can be reliable when it's -50. -45 in winter. There is no such thing as reliability. No. So, no.
Well, how much does it cost, generally to get on the bus?
I think around the same as in Novosibirsk like 25, 27 now, I think.
So, which is actually pretty reasonable given that everything else is more expensive than here.
Yeah. And like you said before, you pay when you get off the bus.
Yeah. Yeah. Which I think is amazing because when you get on you can't even move very often, you know. So let alone to pay or to move throughout the bus. Yeah.
Oh, just, just a little grammar note for our listeners. Prepositions. You get on and you get off a bus, a train, a plane. Whereas a car, you get in a car and you get out of a car.
You can also board a bus or the train or the plane.
Exactly. Yeah. The prepositions in and out for cars and I guess for horse carriages. On and off for all other modes of transportation.
And a bike. So, you get on a bike, get on a horse, get off it. So, yeah. All right. And so, you don't have like a public sled?
No. How would you imagine that?
Like huskies, you know, laikas.
Oh, yeah. I saw something on YouTube... Of a school bus journey to school in -55 degrees. And I think they had to... Maybe it was not the bus, but someone had to set a fire underneath the car because it was so cold just to get the engine start.
I mean, it might be like in some remote areas. I do not know.
That's why in Yakutia, a lot of people, so a lot of drivers who have cars, they have a special system installed which is called Webasto. I do not know what country that comes from, but it's just the name of the company... Webasto. And it kinda automatically starts your car once the temperature drops, you know.
Lower than let's say -30 more.
So, it's like, it checks the temperature inside the car, so inside the system and then there are special... You can have them custom made. I don't know. Like a blanket for your car. So, made with material that insulates, you know, so it keeps the heat in. So, because a lot of people don't have garages or anything like that. And of course, you know, if you leave your car for like 10 hours in -50, you're not going to start it.
It would be impossible. So people invest, you know, in keeping their car running.
And these so-called blankets are fitted to the car, right?
You have them custom made for your car.
Yeah. So these are called car covers.
You have to like... Well, I think you have to like write your name on the cover.
Or a number of the car. Yeah. Like the license.
So that people don't steal the blanket.
Sure. Um, oh, it's moving on. So,well, actually I'm from London. I consider myself to be from London. And yeah, public transportation is obviously is high quality, but unfortunately it's really expensive.
How much did you pay for the underground? Can you remember?
So it's like 240 rubles, you know, roughly. And that was... Wait...So that was for the bus? That was for the...
The bus, I believe, is £1.50, at least the last time I was in London.
Really? I think it was like more than £2. But I was traveling from zone three. So, from Highgate. So that's why I think that was kind of expensive with the subway. And I think I paid even more for the tube when I was traveling to zone three and from zone three. And that's why...
Cause London has, I think, nine zones on the public transport map or public transportation. And each zone, of course, has a different fare. By the way, for our listeners, a fair is the price of a ticket for transportation. We only use the word fare for transport, don't we? I don't think we use fair in another context. Okay. So, it's basically for transportation. And yeah, if you're travelling within one zone, the fee, the fare is £2.40. Which is outrageous. And if you want to commute to work, you're going to have to pay a lot of money.
The good thing, well, if we look on the bright side, that it hasn't changed within the last like seven, eight, nine years. It has not. Because when Sadiq Khan became the mayor, he promised that he wouldn't, you know, increase the fares, and he did not. So, at least this, you know, some...
I believe Sadiq Khan, his father, he's the mayor. His father was a bus driver.
So he... Yes, I think it's close to his heart. He doesn't...
So, yeah, London's an expensive city, obviously. And one thing that's really upset me about London, like I said earlier, is how they've replaced all these old buses with these new plasticky buses.
There's more space, though.
There's more space. Yeah, but I've missed the old double decker buses.
So new double deckers are just as lovely.
But they're just plastic boxes, really. Whereas the old ones have characters in it.
Whole out life is just a plastic box.
Yeah, the metal ones. Exactly. And you can hop on, hop off from the back of the bus. The new... Well, there are some new double decker buses which actually look quite nice. The very new ones.
Actually I saw some of the old ones when I was visiting London.
Yeah. Oh you saw some? I think...
Yeah. They were still running but it was in 2015.
Maybe it was the route number. I think it's the 15 I need to double-check.
I think so. I saw it. Yeah.
Cause I had, I had a picture of that. Yeah.
And you can still hire them for, for private use. For instance if you have a wedding and or something like that.
Oh sounds like something you would have at your wedding if you could.
Well people do it. Believe it or not, you can hire like an old school double decker bus for, yeah, private function. And it's pretty cool, but yeah, I miss those buses. And one thing I loved about the buses was there was a periscope for the driver. So the driver can keep his eye on the passengers on the upper deck, which is the upper floor of the bus. And yeah, I had a school bus when I was a kid. That was a old London double decker bus, and the bus driver was always looking up this periscope and he said "Sit down. Stop making so much noise". And you'd see, because it was an old school periscope, you could see his face in the mirror. Yeah. Getting angry. So, let us know if you've been to London. We wanna hear your opinions about London transport in general.
It's so.. Not it's illogical. But the thing is that let's say in Novosibirsk, you get on a, you know, on a tube, you get on metro and you know, what stops it's gonna make. So that's it. It's one line. In London you go one line, then it goes, you know, divides into two, then those two divides into two and you're like ... Jesus.
It is confusing, isn't it? The Northern Line, yes.
That's .. Since I was living in Highgate, I had to take the northern line. And then Camden Town. You can get off the train, but you can't get on the train on Sundays. And you're like ... oh my goodness.
And you have to keep all of these things in mind.
It is really annoying, actually. Yeah. That part of it, especially the district line because that's the biggest line on the London Underground. And yeah, I think especially towards the west side of London, you have many different lines which offshoots from one another and you have to be really careful, especially if you go to the station called Earl's Court. Have you heard of Earl's Court?
I've been to Earl's Court cause that's where the TARDIS is.
The TARDIS from the... You know, what show was that again?
Exactly. Doctor Who. So, yeah. Earl's Court has many differences. It's like a terminal for one line, which is really confusing.
All right. Anyway, moving on. So, I was going to talk about public transportation strikes. So, London, we have a lot of strikes on the transport. Um, well, maybe they are justified. Do you have strikes in Istanbul?
Not in Istanbul. But I heard that happened in the capital. Kind of a couple of years ago because of the long working hours of the bus drivers. That's why they had a strike. So, yeah, that was it.
Yeah. And did it really impact people or was it... not so bad?
Yeah. For two days, I guess they stopped working and people had to... Just use other transportation options like the metro and... Dolmuş we had the mini bus like dolmuş. So, they didn't work like two days. And they had a deal. And they reduced their working hours and they started working again, yeah.
For two days it was... Like two days.
So, it's okay if you have money, but if you're like a low wage worker, it can be very problematic. But then again, maybe the transportation workers do have a bad deal, so maybe they do need to strike. Well, I've never worked on the transportation network, so maybe I don't know what they're going through.
I used to work as a conductor.
How you did not mention that?
I have not. Okay. Prepare to be shocked. It was in Yakutia. So I would only be sitting, you know, in one place and collect the money when people were getting off. I was 11.
I was working since 7 a.m. till 9 p.m..
No way. 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.. That's 14... Oh, my God.
So my dad would drive me, you know, to one of the bus stops where the driver would pick me up. And then I would kind of get off at around 9 p.m. and he very often continued to work until like 10 p.m.. But we agreed if I start at 8 p.m. then you know, I can work until 10, but I start at like seven 7:30 a.m...
So do the constructors... oh, not constructors. Do the conductors ever strike?
You know, in Russia, people usually do not strike. That's not what you do here, because don't you dare do that, you know, in this country. So no, usually, no.
It's funny cause you would think that strikes would happen in Russia. You would think so because the Soviet Union and the...
Yeah, I thought that it was. So Moscow does never...?
So the thing is that... see... Transportation system and let's say airports, transport, medical areas there you can see that, you know, spheres that life depends on. So it's forbidden by law to go strike in these areas. If you do... well, first you lose your job and very likely you're in prison cause you just can't do that.
Interesting cause I think in England, police officers can't go on strike and or the fire brigade can't go on strike. Kind of fair enough. Like, if you're in that profession. That's...
Firefighters same in Turkey, they can't go on strike.
Yeah fair enough. If you're in that profession or if I'm not so sure about the NHS in the UK. The National Health Service maybe can strike, maybe you can't. It depends on your role. Um, yeah. So that's interesting in Russia that transport is considered essential.
And my dad used to work at an airport. He was a loader.
The baggage handler. It was also they could not go on strike cause that was considered, you know, essential.
In England right now they are on strike. Maybe not today, but recently they were on strike. And there were so, so many cancelations. And it was holidays.
I've seen some pictures from airports, you know, of just luggage and suitcases, just standing there, thousands of suitcases.
Cause during the COVID pandemic, the airlines had to lay off, which means to fire, but not because they're bad employees, but because the company does not have enough money. So the airlines had to lay off many employees and now the demand for flying has come back. Unfortunately, there's just not enough workers. And the conditions are not ideal for the workers. So a lot of them have taken to striking and it's caused absolute chaos in the UK. What about America? Are there any...?
Well, I was thinking in Atlanta, I've heard of several school bus strikes. So, the bus drivers who drive kids to school cause like you were saying, it was the long hours and bad conditions. Low pay.
Yeah. So it does happen in the U.S.? It's not designated by law as an essential service like here in Russia.
I've never heard of that. I'm just trying to think if I've ever seen police on strike, I mean, I guess not. I don't know.
Yeah. But there are strikes, though, in general in America.
And you do have unions and things like that. In France, I know they love to strike for everyone. It's like a national hobby. It's striking. The taxi drivers are always on strike, and in Paris, and everyone's on strike.
Yes. So it's yeah, it's quite, um, it's quite chaotic, usually. Yeah. All right. Well, let's talk about our experience around the world. So, let's go. Let's talk about each different type of public transportation. So, trains, what is your favorite train network in the world?
Again, this is the question that Benjamin would ask, you know, what's your favorite train?
TGV maybe. From Leon to Paris. That was cool. I remember. That was cool. It's a high speed. It was a high speed train.
Yeah, but TGV is a Train à Grande Vitesse. Yeah, trains of high speed.
Nice. It was clean, effcient. And so have you been on any other major trains in Europe?
No, that that was the only one. It wasthe only one, but it was cool.
What about the price? Can you remember?
It was high. I don't remember the exact amount of it, but it was high, like more than €50 or something.
Yeah, it's pretty pricey. In England it's like that too.
It was 2013 or something. Yeah.
Yeah. In England, travel from London to Edinburgh is gonna cost you a lot.
Oh, well, but it's. It's a great distance, though... In general in England the trains are so expensive.
It's outrageous. It's like in Russia you can... Novosibirsk to Tomsk. It's about the same distance, I think as London to Edinburgh. I believe it's roughly the same distance you can pay what, like... thousand rubles if even that.
Something like that, yeah.
And, that's what around...?
Yeah, maybe a little bit more now. So maybe let's call it £15 or something, but maybe not even that.
It used to be 400 rubles. So like £4.
That's amazing. From London to Edinburgh, are you going to pay about £60? Maybe more than that. Way more than that, probably. I've heard of £100 tickets. It's expensive. So, yeah...
It's kind of for a first class or...?
No, no, no. Just regular ticket. Regular ticket. It's really expensive. It's outrageous. Um, yeah. So, France has the best trains. What about...?
Well, I don't have much experience with trains, so I can't say which was the best. I've taken trains in Russia, of course, while I was traveling and in the U.S., I had to take a commuter train whenever I wanted to go to Boston from Wellesley. So and in San Francisco Valley, it's called Bay Area...
Rapid Transit. So, in Massachusetts, it's MBTA, which stands for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. So MBTA.
But in San Francisco that transportation is called...
MARTA or maybe that's Atlanta. I don't know. I'm getting the cities mixed up.
So, I've taken those trains whenever I wanted to go to Boston and the price. So again, just like in London, maybe... So in Massachusetts it's separated into zones. So I was living in zone 3. So for me it was 8.50 one way.
So, $17 to go to Boston and back. And the thing is that they're fast, they're nice. Or, most of them at least. So, it was expensive for me. And I know that the people have to, you know, commute to work every day. And I know that you can get like a month's pass. For like... zone 3, zone 4 it's about $500 per month. For zone 6, it's like $700 per month and... But on the same... Well, if we think about, let's say, drivers, so people who work in Boston itself, they have to park their cars and the rate is usually around $12 per hour. So, very often they would get a month pass for the parking lots and that would be also around like 400-500 per month. Then you have to pay for maintenance, gas, all of that.
Plus, yeah, it's...It's a lot.
Outrageous. Yeah. I remember you said you were in, I believe, Iran.
Right. When I was in Iran, there are taxis. But what was unusual about that, was that anybody could be a taxi cab driver. So you just motioned your hand on the street and any civilian, anybody could pick you up and you pay them. And one time I did that and I told him, I know I was going home, Sultana. That's where I lived. And this guy took me out, to... if you ever seen that movie "Crossroads", where it's just the straight road this way, the straight road that way. It took me out into no man's land. It was really... And it wasn't anywhere near is where I was going. And so I knew he was a bad man. And and I knew a little Farsi. He said, in Farsi "I want one kiss".
So the train fare or the taxi fare is a kiss.
Oh my God. And I thought and I said, let me out here. Get out. And so he let me out, thankfully. And there I was, standing right there at the crossroads of no place.
In the middle of nowhere.
Nowhere, nowhere. If you ever look at Iran, there's nowhere there. There's nothing. And so, I just stood there, and then another car came and hopefully he didn't want a kiss. And I got in and I was telling him about the bad man and he took me home.
But I have a question. Do you have any intention on writing an autobiography? Because I think you should.
It would definitely have a sell.
Podcasts are enough. Yeah, that's the limit.
But tell me about other public transportation in Iran. Did you take the train or...?
But do they have or did they have others?
I don't know, we just took taxis, yes.
A lot of cars. Cars, unrefined fuel. You know that.
They're an oil company. I mean, oil country.
Yeah. I don't remember anything.
Oh, fair enough. Fair enough. Well, trains. I've luckily been on a lot of trains. I love trains.
You should have seen that coming.
Of course, Germany, the Netherlands, that region tends to have really, really... And Switzerland, of course, have really, really high quality trains that are always exactly on time.
So, okay, what's the best?
So.. that's a no. So, it's probably going to have to be Switzerland. Yeah. You can't really beat Switzerland.
I've watched the news about it, it was like the first class cabin of an airliner kind of like... You can find anything like... So comfortable,right?
And they also have these trains with glass ceilings. You can see out outside of the train and enjoy the Swiss countryside. But, you know, I'm gonna say my favorite train. Let's say metro network because it's not really trains. Well, they all trains, but favorite metro network in the world would have to be Moscow's. It is amazing quality. So surprised how high quality it was, especially the new stuff. Even though it is plasticky. But all the stations retain the history and you can see that every... You don't need to visit the city of Moscow. You can just ride on the metro and how...
You don't have to go to museums, right.? The statues there.
Exactly. It's a cheap museum, isn't it? And you can what is it, 60 rubles, maybe it's a bit cheaper than that.
I think it's about that now.
Yeah, 60 rubles. Well, for our listeners in Moscow, let us know what the metro fare is. But yeah, for whatever, 60 rubles, it's yeah. It's an experience and it's clean, it's safe, it's... There're so many stations in the network, it's relatively easy to navigate around that.
I think it is easy to navigate because I have, you know, geographic... I'm a geographic idiot. So very often I'm like, ooh, a map.
Okay. Let's put it this way. But in Moscow, it was no problem for me to navigate the stations, you know, even when I had to switch the lines and everything. But did you know, by the way, that technically you are not allowed to take photos there?
Because it's also... So a lot of metro stations also function as bunkers in case of emergency. So... And very often if you let's say you take a picture of some sort of statues, that's fine. But if you start taking pictures of the metro station and the, you know, you would be approached by a policeman asking, what exactly are you taking pictures of? And they would, you know, ask you very politely to delete the photos.
So I thought in Russia the law was you can take photos of anywhere in public spaces except for military facilities.
Okay. So this is kind of... Yeah, it has like...
That's a strategic object. So, yeah, in case of some sort of emergencies, you know, nuclear war or something like that, act as a bunker. Let's hope it doesn't come to that, but...
Well, speaking of trains, I wanted to take that Allegro train from St Petersburg to Helsinki. It no longer is running.
And I'm not over there anyway. But it would be a... It would have been a very nice train. It's like a bullet train, I think.
Yeah. Like in Japan. That's where they... Did it come from Japan? Cause they have the bullet trains.
Is it like a super fast one?
Well, Allegro from St Petersburg to Helsinki. Oh, you haven't. Oh, well, it doesn't run any more, so, you know.
So don't worry about that.
And of course, the trains that go like I always wanted to go from St Petersburg to Beijing. On a train.I would love to.
I was about to say the best rail network. That's long distance. Perhaps, would have to be the Chinese network.
Oh, really. I forgot about China. I took a train in China.
Oh, cool, tell us your experience.
Terrifying. I mean, the terrifying experience was on the station itself, because our guy told us, if you get lost, I won't be able to find you. There are like several million people over here right now. So, I was like, oh, not pressured at all. Okay. But so, we were travelling from Harbin to Beijing and then back. And when we were travelling back, it was really fun because nobody, nobody, not a single soul on that train spoke English. And the thing is that we needed a pillow. And it was very funny cause we show like, hey, pillow. And they like... And they just gave a pillow from another, you know, bunk and you're like, no, no, no, we need extra one, another one. And the thing is that if, for example, in Russian trains you have two bunks. So the low, the top and the bottom bunk. In China it's three. So, in the third one, you know, the top one, it's right there under the this. You can't even sit over that.
Oh, by the way, for our listeners... bunks. They are the beds. So you can have a double... A bunk bed, which is two beds. Yes. So I had to mention.
And in China, it's three. And when we travelled from Harbin to Beijing, that was fine. But when we were travelling from Beijing to Harbin back, so the train would come, people would get off, you know, and you could see people. So, the staff workers dealing with the sheets and everything. So, they would come to each bunk, turn over the sheets, turn over the pillows, don't change the sheets and everything. Oh, amazing, amazing. So not new sheets, not clean sheets.
Cause in China they didn't really speak any English. I mean, some people do, but it's pretty tough to...
In the business centers, around business centers only.
It was also fun because there were some kids crying, you know, and they would pick the kids and come to us, just pointed at us. And the kids were so shocked they would stop crying like, oh.. like who are these people? You know... The foreigners but it was, it was okay, it was fast. So.
It's clean, it's fast. It's well...
Relatively clean.I mean, it's bearable.
Yeah. Oh, I was gonna ask you ...Vietnam, Ugur. Did you go on any trains there or do they have a good train network?
I didn't have a chance, but they suggested me to take a train from Saigon to Hanoi. But, I guess it takes more than two days to travel between the cities, but I didn't have any chance to just use it.
Fair enough. So, I guess they would have air conditioning on that train or maybe no.
I don't know. But, yeah, it should be in an air conditioning. I mean that because it's so hot and yeah... You can't survive.
Yeah. Oh, another train network I really want to try.
In India. India is supposed to be absolutely amazing, but not in terms of quality, but just in terms of an adventure. Yeah, it's, um ... cause I was thinking about air conditioning and I'm not sure...
Considering what I've heard, I'm not sure this is the sort of adventure many people would have, would like to have.
Yeah, well, it's... It depends on your type of your holiday choice. Of course.
It would be fun. Yeah, I'm not going to lie. Yeah, you just have to be careful with the food on the train and...
It's like a muddy... Kind of..
Yeah. And on Indian trains, people are... cause we complain about packing trains in England and in other countries. But India is a whole other level.
You are travelling on top of the train.
Yeah, they... And this is where prepositions really are important. They travel on top of.
Exactly. And I've seen videos on the Internet of Indian people running. Well they do tricks where they jump outside of the train when it's going and then they run on a wall and they jump back on the train. It's incredible. And people die all the time on the train networks because people just do not pay attention to the tracks. And it's yeah, very scary. So yeah, I have another question. So London, we have a pretty good cyclist infrastructure, so it's good to ride a bicycle around London. And, of course, other cities like Amsterdam are notorious for having excellent cyclists infrastructure. America, do you have...?
I remember when they first put in, installed the bicycle lanes. Yeah that was in the 60s and all of a sudden these wonderful lanes showed up with the symbol of the bicycle. Yeah, that's where you got to ride. So that was wonderful because I rode bicycles as a kid. So wonderful.
Nice. It is safe. The cars paid attention to...
Yeah. And then when I was living in Atlanta, of course, growing up... these wonderful bicycle paths. Where you could go, you know, in green space. Yeah, those are nice.
Cool. So, yeah, I rode my bike in Los Angeles a bit and it was quite dangerous. Even though they had some cycle lanes and drivers more or less respected the cycle lanes, it's not really like a cycle friendly city, whereas I guess New York's pretty cycle friendly and ... Well, where you were it was pretty... Fair enough. Well, London... They dedicate millions if not billions of pounds towards the cycle infrastructure. What about Istanbul?
Yeah, we have the bicycle lanes, but people are not using for only bicycle, the motor scooters and all of them. So it's not so convenient for the cycling conditions in there. I don't care.
It is pretty hot there as well. I guess if you want to cycle to work in a suit, then it's kind of...
Yes, it's impossible. Yeah.
What about Yakutia? Do you have a good cyclist network in Yakutia?
Sure. Have you seen bike lanes here in Russia much? I mean, in Siberia? Not in Moscow. Moscow's fantastic for that.
To be honest, I have only seen in Zaeltovskiy Park, but that's just in the park.
This is an artificial, you know, place. I mean, you don't really get to work. It's just so...
You do see some cyclists on the roads here, but it's quite dangerous.
On the roads. Yeah, on the road. So we don't have any sort of bike lanes. In Yakutia they don't have any bike lanes, obviously. I mean, you can ride a bike in June, July, August. That's it. That's basically it. So no, that's not a very common mode of transport.
And I've got a question. So governments only have so much money to dedicate to whatever infrastructure. Do you think the money should go towards improving roads, or do you think money should go towards improving cycling lane, cyclist lanes and or cycle lanes in cities? But what do you think,Varya?
Yeah, I think Greenspaces are really important in the city and in these green spaces will be the cycling lanes. But just in the regular city there probably should be. But I can't imagine anyone really using it. Yeah. How is there room for it?
Well, that's the thing is it costs so much money to install cycle lanes and to make the roads wider. And yeah, London is quite a big debate because drivers get angry at the cyclists because they get basically a free ride, whereas the drivers have to pay all this money in tax and they do and they get spaced out, turfed out of the roads. Um, I mean, I love cycling. I'm a big cyclist. Um, but I guess we don't really pay as much taxes as drivers do. But, but then again, we have the question of pollution.
Have you ever seen a theory that cyclists are a horrible thing for the government? You guys don't pay taxes. Cause why? You just buy bike. You don't pay for the basically the maintenance, the gas. You don't bring much income to the government. You get healthier by cycling. You don't bring much money to the, you know, medical area and everything. So, basically from the profit point of view, government doesn't like you.
No money coming from you.
I guess if you want to talk about reducing pollution, then yeah, I guess riding a bike is better. But, um, driving is fun too unless you get stuck in a traffic jam, which is a huge problem in many cities. And yeah, perhaps we should have talked more about traffic jams because well, to be honest, what...
It kinda calls for part two, you know.
Yeah, well, it's so funny because I would have people complain about traffic jams here, which is. Yeah, I understand, but there's only two lanes. Try a traffic jam when there are six or seven or eight lanes going one way in. Six or seven or eight lane the other way. Try that.
Yeah. No, New York. California is pretty insane. Yeah. And I guess Istanbul, too, is pretty crazy.
All right. Well, let's wrap it up there, guys. So, let us know if you hate traffic jams, if you're stuck in a traffic jam. But if you are stuck in a traffic jam, we suggest this thing, of course, the Big Apple School podcast, where you can improve your English as you sit in this frustrating situation and you can at least find some advantage in this situation. So guys, check out our website www.BigAppleSchool.com where you can find information about the courses we offer and you can also find other podcasts and interesting articles. And also give us a like on the social media platforms and do comment, so VK, Telegram, etc.. So that's it. Thank you very much and we'll see you next time.