Hong Kong's subway system makes $2B in annual profit [w/video]

In the US, riding the subway isn't always the most pleasant experience. Sure, it might save you money, but the trains can be pretty dismal on the inside and aren't always reliably on time. In comparison, the system at work underground in Hong Kong, China, (pictured above) operates like a marvel of modern industry. It carries over five million people each day, and from a financial perspective the most amazing part is its $2 billion in annual profit.

There's certainly money to be made in carrying people efficiently, and according to CNN Money, the fares alone cover around 175 percent of the operating costs. However, that's not the source of the subway's massive profits. Rather, the Hong Kong subway is managed by a publicly traded business called the Mass Transit Railway Corporation, and it counts the local government as a majority stakeholder.

As a deal between the company and the state, MTR gets to develop the land that its stations rest on. With around 50 locations across the city, according to CNN Money, including two skyscrapers and 13 malls, renters at these places enjoy huge foot traffic everyday from people using the subway. The result is a business that raked in $5.2 billion in revenue last year, and commissions to run other lines in China, the UK and Sweden.

Take a look at how the Hong Kong subway system operates in the video below.

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