Hello Again, Sydney

One Sydney-sider's experiences moving back to Sydney after a long absence overseas.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

City comparison: bus/train reading

I suppose a lot of cities now have free publications available on public transport. Here are the couple I know about.

London has Metro, a little tabloid newspaper. I haven't seen it for years, but I remember it as being functional and inoffensive. I do believe that it now has a competitor (The London Paper?).

Sydney has something called mX, which is... Well, if you took Metro and got everyone in the train/bus to wipe their arse with it, you'd end up with mX. They are at least refreshingly honest about its trashiness - no pretense of edifying the reader here. The section on significant international goings-on is called "Boring But Important" and the bit with human fatalities is called "Doom & Gloom" (repeat after me: medium soy latte, no doom and gloom) and the front page is often dedicated to the latest celebrity scandal. They also do a nice job with clever headlines (Kebabs cop a serve - well, okay, maybe they were having an off day). With a circulation of over 670,000 that's a lot of downward pressure on the lowest common denominator - and many bus and train-loads of advertising revenue.

In Bogota, on the Transmilenio bus system, there's a scheme called Libro al Viento at designated stations where you can pick up a free book. Then when you've finished it, you drop it back for someone else to read. Cortázar, Sophocles, Poe, Chekhov, Kipling, Perrault, Wilde, Andersen, Grimm... Boring but important?