Finland: land of the Moomins, Santa Claus Village, and exceedingly simple metro lines.  

A series of maps comparing the municipal subway layouts in major cities around the world has been tickling some net users who just can’t get enough of Helsinki’s metro design. Some are calling it proof that Finns like to keep things simple–and you’ve got to admit, when you see the image stacked up next to a map of Tokyo’s metro system, they may have a point!

Perhaps because the population of Finland’s capital, Helsinki (621,863 as of November 2014), is dwarfed by some of the other major cities around the globe, its exceptionally uncomplicated metro system is worlds apart from the intimidating, tangled-up monstrosity known as the Tokyo Metro. I remember staring blankly at all the squiggly lines the first time I ever saw a map of Tokyo’s subway system, and then almost fainted when I realized there was a whole other network of trains above ground as well.

One of the Helsinki Metro’s biggest claims to fame is the fact that it’s the world’s northernmost metro system. The other is its incredibly easy-to-understand, hassle-free layout that you should have no trouble finding your way around:

“The Helsinki Metro, opened in 1982, was the first, and so far the only, subway-system in all of Finland. For the first 16 years of its existence, the line was topologically only one straight line, but in 1998 a fork with three stations each was added at the eastern end of the line” (Wikipedia).

The Helsinki Metro


Not too bad, right? Let’s see how Helsinki stacks up against Tokyo:

▼ Tokyo, Japan: Tokyo Metro

6  Tokyo Metro

Yikes! All of those lines! Many net users commented that the Tokyo Metro map reminds them of an imaginary map from the fantasy world of an MMO (Massively multiplayer online) game. For the record, Seoul’s map isn’t much different, but perhaps Beijing’s is a bit less crazy?

▼ We’d also venture to guess that Helsinki trains are a far cry from this:

Here are more maps of public transportation systems from other major cities that net users had fun comparing with Helsinki:

▼ Calgary, Canada: CTrain

7Calgary Transit

▼ Glasgow, Scotland (UK): Subway


Tokyo’s JR Yamanote Line is reminiscent of Glasgow’s circular design. It takes just 24 minutes to complete one loop of the Glasgow Subway.

▼ Los Angeles, US: LA Metro

10LA Metro

As a brief intermission, let’s all take a moment to laugh at what commuters in LA face on a daily basis:


▼ Moscow, Russia: Moscow Metro


The Moscow Metro seems pretty intense, but that’s what you get when you’re one of the busiest metro systems in terms of ridership in the world.

▼ Detroit, US: Detroit People Mover

12Wikipedia (DPM)

If you’re like me, I had no idea what the heck a “people mover” was. Apparently, it’s “an automated people mover system which operates on a single track.” Go figure.

▼ Toronto, Canada: Toronto Transit Commission


▼ Vancouver, Canada: SkyTrain


Hmm, I get the feeling that all of these Canadian systems are manageable enough.

▼ Warsaw, Poland: Warsaw Metro

16Wikipedia (Jan Stępień)

The initial section of Line 2 of the Warsaw Metro just opened earlier this month.

▼ Berlin, Germany: U-Bahn

17Berlin Map 360

Berlin’s U-Bahn seems to be fairly evenly spread out.

▼ Chicago, US: Chicago Transit Authority


So OK, I now have a newfound appreciation for Finns. If only the rest of the world could keep things as simple as you!

Sources: LabaQ, Wikipedia, Reddit
Images: LabaQ, Imgur