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Happy 150th, London Underground!

We just passed Muni’s Centennial Day, something we think is important for America’s first publicly owned big city transit system. But the London Underground has us beat for longevity by a half-century. The venerable “Tube” is celebrating its sesquicentennial today.

It all started with a steam train in 1863, belching fumes in tunnels under central London. The lithograph above shows the Baker Street station when new. Many features at platform level are still visible today.

London’s transport history comes to life at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, one of the world’s great transport museum. They’ve got a full array of wonderful events this year tied to the 150th, including the return of steam to the Underground.

Sounds like a great year to visit London (but hey, don’t forget us!).

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My word, tickets for the historic trips run from 50 Pounds to 180 Pounds, for riding in the historic coaches pulled by either a 1920 electric locomotive or a 1893 steam locomotive. That makes $6 for a cable car seem like a bargain.

Living in the UK, you might like to know that this and next weekend they are running a commemorative steam service on the London Underground on what is the original part of the system between Baker Street and Moorgate on the Metropolitan Line. When this was first advertised tickets sold out very quickly.

I visited London for the first time in June 2009. Great vacation! Took the tube everywhere around the world’s cultural capital! A truly diverse public transit system they have! One year later when Muni pioneered the new Clipper-oriented Muni Metro faregates, I exclaimed, “They copied London’s!”

I studied in London in 1993. Baker Street was my stop and that was the platform I waited at each morning to go to school. I thought it looked pretty vintage!

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