World Sign
Vol. 48: Prague’s Subway Signs in Full Regalia

Whenever I travel overseas, I try as much as possible to rely on my own legs. But I always make an effort to travel at least once on various forms of public transport. Buses follow complicated routes, and if you’re not careful you may well end up at the back of beyond. In this sense, subway systems are relatively simple to come to grips with. The fares are inexpensive and they’re the ideal form of transport once you find your legs giving way beneath you.

I was surprised by the subway system in Prague. Having got off the train, the escalator moves at an astonishing speed and, although it might just have been my imagination, there is a sudden slope. I felt that it would be rather dangerous for elderly people and children to use. The tunnels are a long way beneath the ground, to the extent that you feel you are being dragged into the very bowels of the earth.

Providing some diversion as one travels along the escalator is the enormous number of advertising boards suspended from the ceiling. They are lined up one after the other with scarcely so much as a gap between them in the direction of travel. It’s impossible to make them out until you get right up close to them. Looking at them without having the first idea of what they actually meant, they seemed extraordinarily flurried. Seeing how the displays were all completely different, I realized that there must be a considerable demand for advertisements in Prague. Although it may just be because there are few other advertising media available.

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