Think public transit’s a bore? Think again. Worldwide, cities are spiffing up their metros, subways, railway lines and stations with art and entertainment to encourage ridership and add curb appeal. For a local cultural experience, try these platforms:
PHOENIX / Each Friday, a different local indie musical act — ranging from operatic singers to a punkgrass trio — boards a downtown light-rail train and puts on a mini acoustical concert for riders. Shows are later available online, where fans can vote for favorites à la Battle of the Bands. www.thetraintracks.org
LOS ANGELES / Since 1989, LA Metro has commissioned more than 300 artists to decorate its extensive network of transit-related sites, and docents lead free, two-hour rail-line tours showcasing highlights the first Thursday, Saturday and Sunday of each month. Keep an eye out for the movie-themed station at Hollywood and Vine and the floating sculptures beneath Koreatown. http://www.metro.net/about/art/
PARIS / A recent IKEA advertising campaign turned four of the city’s Métro stops into temporary living rooms, but Paris’ true underground art is its permanently themed stations. Don’t miss Concorde Station’s tiled walls, which spell out a famous 18th-century political document , and the Jules Verne–inspired submarinelike interior at Arts et Métiers.
NEW YORK / Download podcasts exploring several installations of MTA artwork, such as Roy Lichtenstein’s Times Square Mural (www.mta.info/mta/aft/podcast), or visit the recently added Whirls and Twirls — a massive and colorfully tiled piece resembling an abstract version of Candy Land — at the 59th Street/Columbus Circle subway station.