If you can do 30 squats in 2 minutes, the Moscow metro will let you travel for free. Seriously. In a bid to promote the 2014 Winter Olympics, the endurance test sees locals take it low (and back up again) in front of a machine, which spits out a ticket to those who conquer the challenge.
You get to test your endurance, assert your physical prowess and pocket a bit of cash. Would it take off in London? Perhaps not. But it got us thinking about how other countries run their underground networks and what, if anything, we could learn from them.
Our finding are startling. Not just fewer closures and longer running hours, but Oyster cards that you can buy groceries with, ceiling artwork and even talking robots. TFL: take note.
1| Moscow, Russia: Soviet History Museum
Not just great for the get fit/ free ticket incentives, the Moscow subway is also one of the world’s most beautiful. Stalin built it as temple to Communism, and it features stained glass windows, statues and decadent hanging lighting. Sure, the USSR is over – but the ornate artwork and breathtaking beauty remain.
2| New York, USA: 24 Hour Service
Let us imagine a London with 24 hour underground service. The night time economy would boom, and, more importantly, waking up at 4am on the N73 next to a drug-addled, pupil-spinning old time raver would be over. This is perhaps the biggest lesson that TFL can take from any other public transport system.
3| Toyko, Japan: Musical Stops
Stop-specific jingles denote when you’re at your destination – far more soothing than a automated (and weirdly-smug) "THIS, is Oxford Circus". The noises are so popular that they’re even available to download as ringtones. Less good: the tendency of platform workers to physically jam people into carriages at rush hour.
4| Stockholm, Sweden: Cave Art Gallery
Instead of sheeting over the natural rock with metal, Stockholm's underground ceiling has been left as it is, and painted with Ming vase-esque pattern and detail. Makes you realise that being actually under the ground is pretty cool.
5 | Seoul, Korea: Talking Robot Staff
It's 2013 and we still haven't got our robot. For our inner gadget fiend, the Korean city’s robot employees are just too much to handle. Infrared sensors mean that these don’t bump into people, they understand and reply to questions, and even have security cameras in their ‘heads’ to patrol with after the stations shut. Efficent, and like living in The Jetsons.
6 | Hong Kong: The World's Most Useful Oyster Card
Hong Kong operates an ‘Octopus card’ system, which puts our sea-dwelling equivalent in it’s place. It can be used to buy things in restaurants, bars and shop to make your life that little bit easier – especially useful to avoid a 50p ‘surcharge’ when buying milk at the corner shop when you're out of cash.