I think there are a number of potential answers to this question, but one subway system I think is particularly efficient is the Metro in Washington, D.C. It’s the second most-ridden subway in the US, after New York’s, but unlike many of Manhattan’s, Washington’s trains and stations are generally clean, tidy, efficient and function well. A testament to the effectiveness of the Washington Metro is the way it handled the 1.2 million passengers who rode it on January 20, 2009 on the occasion of the inauguration of Barack Obama–for the most part it got those 1.2 million people where they needed to go without any major mishaps.
That said, I would not be surprised if New York’s subway system is at least nominated as a potential answer. Although it has a reputation for being rough, dirty, graffiti-spangled and somewhat seedy, the New York City subway system does an admirable job of carrying millions of people a year throughout one of the most extensive systems of subway tunnels in the world, and doing so with comparatively few incidents or mishaps. Although New York’s system pales in comparison to the clean, well-run and easy to use London Underground, as American subways go it’s not bad, and it’s been operating since 1904. The image of the New York City subway has been much rehabilitated since the 1970s and 80s, when its gritty and sometimes dangerous nature was showcased by ugly incidents such as the Bernard Goetz shooting or the movie The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.
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