For example in Munich there is nearly every day one or more huuuge delays due to:
- people on the track (sprayers, drunkards, people whose phone fell down)
- animals on the track, ranging from stray dogs over wolves to deer - and in some cases, entire herds of sheep... one caused an ICE to derail and destroy a huge amount of tunnel track in the progress once.
- suicides (1.000 suicides in Germany per year, and that's only the successful ones)
- accidents on street crossings (okay, that's eliminated on the highspeed tracks, but regional traffic and metro rails suffer often enough)
- kids letting balloons loose in the underground sections, where they shorten out the power line, sometimes causing major destruction - and occasionally it's a bird that does the same and ends up grilled
- absolute morons who do not make room for people trying to exit the train
- people with disabilities (wheelchair users, but also old people who simply have problems moving!), who sometimes need to be attended by the conductor, e.g. to put out a ramp
- technical breakdowns
However, in Japan this seems to be nearly unheard of.
Suicide: by train isn't uncommon, but if they have to delay one line, there are similar lines people can use to route around the area (usually, and to great discomfort).
People on the track: I have only seen this once, aside from workers and they know the schedules and have watchers to make sure the lines are clear.
Morons not moving: pretty hard Todo that with the sheer mass of bodies moving out ;) also there is a system everyone adopts, on the outside everyone lines up in two lines outside the carriage doors, and let's the train empty, before attempting to get in.
Its quite amazing how well it works.
I would make a joke but it is interesting how having a culture that values the whole rather than the individual influences how they use public transportation.
In NJ/NYC, I stand away from the door and people actually shove in front of me and through people getting off.
As you said, it's just common sense.
As for Japan, I was amazed when taking the trams down in the south where, from what I remember, you got on via the back doors (taking a ticket, which was optional some times depending on the trip), then you would slowly move forward to the front to pay on departure via a coin collector near the driver. Change machines were also on the trams. The ride and transaction was seamless as everyone always had correct change, the collection of money took little to no time (we're talking nobody really stopped, drop money in, keep walking) and because everyone was entering and leaving the assigned doors, everything just worked.
I think that, more than anything else, showed to me the huge difference between the Japanese culture compared to Australian.
If our everyday work life depended on our transport system, and I mean really depended on it, we'd see a dramatic shift between what we have now and what we would have.
I fly to Melbourne fairly regularly. Any trip that touches airport line adds about $15 to the fare because some genius decided it was a good idea to privatize the airport line. I spend almost a third of my airfare cost just on travelling to airport.
I used to see full length empty trains going out to the coast during peak hour as a "limited stop" service, yet regular commuters would have to pack onto 3 car all stop services. That there caused me to stop taking the train. The bus system also has it's faults but is generally ok. Worst I've seen are the ghost buses that just don't turn up but are still on the status boards.
Airport train fares were a exploited for a while until they did a crackdown on the passes. It'd cost you $10~ to go from the CBD to the airport, but the passes would only cost you $5. You could tap on to get on the train, and never tap off (which incurred a $5 fee, but you didn't care) then bin the pass afterwards because you weren't going to pay that fee.
It's these sorts of things are why our transport system will never progress, we are always looking to screw over something that we don't hold value in. If we needed it, we'd pay for it in fear of not having it.
There are markers to show where the doors will stop, and the train will actually stop there. So people can line in advance in prediction of where the train stops.
The markers are far enough from the border so people are nudged to stay within safe distance.
Staff is dispatched on the platforms at rush hour to deal with people wondrop their stuff, need assistance, lost their way or take dangerous behaviors.
France railways started some similar ideas (like having staff on the platforms at rush hour) with various level of success, but they don’t seem to be ready to invest enough to go all the way.
Basically I think other countries’ railways just don’t care enough.
The signalling sounds like it is ancient in the NY system, and they don't seem to have the budget or will to fix it.
I believe they also vary the door positions for different routes, so you can have people queuing for two separate trains on the same platform without any confusion or disruption.
People do wait there on rush hour not for the next train, but for two trains later (same train). The justification is that it is the beginning of the line, and if you wait 3-5 min longer you'll be able to sit for the whole trip.
During rush hour they have white gloved attendants pushing people in doors and confirming no hanging luggage or limbs, etc.
Shinkansen tracks are also often suspended or walled in.
In Tokyo you'll also often see signs apologizing for delays, but since the trains are still arriving every 2 minutes, it won't make a difference to you or your schedule whether that specific train is off schedule.
Another factor is that many lines share tracks also. This means everything needs to be on time, or else they won't mesh. Even on one line you'll have various flavors of express that overtake slower trains on the same rail at stations... meaning they have to be on time.
Of course, none of this is cheap, and neither are the tickets. It's not uncommon to find plane tickets cheaper than Shinkansen tickets. And even going 3 stations from Shibuya to Shinjuku will cost you 2 dollars on the Yamanote line. You could easily spend 10 dollars a day on a daily basis just getting around the city, and multiply that by the number of people who use the system, and it's a fortune.
Fun fact: Shinkansen tickets are about the same price as Acela Express tickets. Except the Japanese trains are unsubsidized while Amtrak is heavily subsidized (Congress pays capital costs). And the Japanese trains are fast and reliable, while Amtrak is the opposite of those things.
Also: minimum D.C. Metro fare in peak hours is $2.25. Metro is also a disaster, with tunnels catching fire, etc.
I was in Japan this past summer and took a Shinkansen train from Odawara to Yokohama. It was about 37 miles in 16 minutes, and only cost ~US$18. It felt magical in a way that train travel in the US just can't compete with.
Fast, Cheap, Reliable - pick none, should be their slogan.
"WMATA: It probably won't catch on fire today"
In western cities (apart from Germany, also conveniently bombed) our train systems are stuck compensating for bad decisions made in the 1880s, and then the further bad decisions made in every subsequent decade to ameliorate those bad decisions. It's the physical equivalent of maintaining 150 year old legacy code written in Linear A (if you will pardon the mixed metaphor) except that you can't just throw it out and start again because you'd have to demolish tens of thousands of houses.
I think it's reasonably valid to use this excuse for, say, why the NYC subway is so far behind Tokyo's train system. Maintaining a system as old as NYC's requires so much money and time that there's little left over for upgrades.
But there's no excuse for a regional train like the Acela being so slow, expensive, and unreliable when compared to the Shinkansen. It's certainly difficult to do major upgrades in a constrained area like NYC, but upgrading tracks and signaling and the trains themselves in the mostly-open areas between (say) NYC and DC is a lot easier (even if you can't touch the last couple miles on each route due to city density, you can still make tons of improvements in between). And given that the US gov't gives Amtrak tons of money, and they still collect 2x as much as the Shinkansen does from passengers on a passenger-mile basis, it's shameful how poorly that money is managed.
There was an article posted on HN months ago that talked about per-mile transit construction costs in various countries, and how construction in the US costs so much more. I don't recall if there was a conclusion as to why, but it seemed to be a combination of gov't and union waste.
> Stage 1, from 1872, the first line, from Tokyo to Yokohama
I spent some time in Tokyo and found the subway both amazingly useful and cheap. But I also must compare it to the public transit in the US where I live (non-usable bus system), and that of San Francisco -- which was much more expensive and not nearly as well maintained.
When the usual for me is a $6 Uber one-way to a bar that's barely 2 miles away, it blew my mind that I would regularly get across Tokyo for ~$5-10.
I returned from Tokyo with a loathing of the overwhelmingly car-centric cities of the U.S.
I like getting around cities by public transit too, but Tokyo Subway system is rather complicated and expensive. You pay by distance in pretty granular fashion and there are several private companies operating, and not always compatible.
Seoul subway system is basically flat rate and much simpler, with free transfer to buses.
And all fares are by distance. Any commuter passes are based on point A to point B also.
They have a Japan Rail Pass that allows for almost unlimited travel within Japan, but you have to be a visitor from a foreign country. But I hear it's one of the best ways to tour Japan. Their trains are quite awesome.
- absolute morons who do not make room for people trying to
exit the train
If you get far out of a city, things seem to be held to less of a strict standard, but trains still run frequently and mostly on time.
I've never witnessed someone with a disability getting on or off a Japanese train, so I can't speak to that.
DB (Germany) publishes a monthly average: https://www.bahn.de/p/view/service/auskunft/puenktlichkeit_p...
As does OEBB (Austria): http://www.oebb.at/de/rechtliches/puenktlichkeit-oesterreich
SNCF (France) has excellent data available:
The statistics from SBB (Switzerland) are worse than I would have expected:
Roughly in line with the rest, but as I understand they designed their timetable to make sure that people can make their connection, and they report a figure that does bear that out:
Maybe somebody who speaks Japanese can find something similar for Japanese trains.
One thing I did find is the list for delay certificates of the Tokyo Metro. It's obviously not on time, all the time, "passenger arrengement staff" nonwithstanding:
 "Customer-weighted connection punctuality", I do not pretend to understand what exactly that means
E.g in Germany a train is considered delayed if its more than 5 minutes and 59 seconds late, whereas in Switzerland the percentage refers to passengers that arrive within 3 minutes and still have all the connecting trains available.
And trains or buses that leave early are really annoying. NSB did it with my local bus some years ago. Got the drivers a lot of flack from passengers who missed the bus.
Hmm. Maybe that's something that's missed in the beancounter-ish environment of today's transportation networks... to allow for "slack times". Basically, have the train spend a minute more per station so there is always some inherent amount of time that can be used for stuff like a wheelchair user or a horde of kindergarden kids without impacting everyone else...
IIRC something similar was attempted and then rejected at a local bus line, because it would have meant to hire another driver and a bus, and the beancounters said it's too expensive.
Introducing slack in the overall connection means having optimising for the average case at the cost of the ideal case, which is both more difficult to do and, perhaps more importantly, less likely to get exciting articles in the press. Having trains spend additional time at the platform is also expensive in terms of infrastructure and hence, again, money (there are only so many platforms and the tracks leading up the station are probably crowded).
I should probably stop rambling; it's not like I really know what I'm talking about.
However, even if train companies do sue families if their relatives get hit by trains, it doesn't change the fact that there are a LOT of suicides by train in Tokyo. For example, on one day in 2012 there were 3 separate suicides from jumping in front of trains .
I think the lack of delays in Japan from these types of accidents may have to do with very frequent train schedules and lots of redundancy in both alternate routes and alternate tracks.
Is it well attested/documented?
 Which, I think, should mostly be considered "entertainment" rather than particularly correct, though I do believe that they actually do strive for correctness. It's more that it has turned into a sort of "twist the words" game -- which is a shame.
 It seems to have gained a little bit of a second wind with Toksvig in the current season -- as a sort of a more chat-about-random-things-prompted-by-question-X type thing. Which is nice. (Disclaimer: Only 2 episodes in.)
as well as this 88-page study:
Apparently the fee is usually around $2 million.
I guess that would discourage anyone who's desparate enough to commit suicide (and still cares about their family) to look for other methods.
I'm not quite sure why, but I somehow find it very strange that a railway company can administer a "fine" to people that may never even have interacted with it. Am I alone in this?
 Are they private entities in Japan?
I'm not in Japan at the moment so I can't ask the figure, but I believe it was in the region of 10-20k us(take that figure with a huge grain of salt, I'm going off of my memory, and still drinking my morning coffee).
"The best way to stop people from buying a gun, is to kill a puppy once each time is sold"
That seems like it would ensure that the only people who buy guns are those with no regard for innocent life. I think you've invented the most perverse incentive ever devised.
Sounds like what it takes to make it in politics.
Otherwise, they take train transportation VERY seriously. It is their main mode of transportation both local and in-country long-distance.
(...which is awfully close to my (possibly equally stereotypical) opinion of why Japan has a suicide problem)
But in general the trains run really well, and an avoidable mistake is really rare.
When I was in Tokyo I witnessed on two occasions a man try to dive through the doors at the last minute and get caught. The doors do not open again. Both men were in clearly obvious levels of pain, trying to get their arms or legs back. I for one had no intention of repeating their experiment. Warning to others: successful.
You get a cue that the door is going to close. They close about 10%, open again, and then slam shut. That’s the only warning you get (there may have been a beep too) but it’s really the only one you need.
They also have herders during peak traffic that either shove you in or warn you off. Like traffic cops but for the trains.
I think it's helpful to say "move, sloth" when people stand on the left side of an escalator, for example. That would be really insulting in Japan, but also it wouldn't ever be necessary. Actually, it's not even necessary in say, London. But in the U.S. there is absolutely zero imagination that someone might want to walk up an escalator, it simply does not even occur to most people.
My favorite: train is full, some people have to get out in order make room for people to get out, and then a bunch of assholes on the platform try to get into the train before the people who got out to make room but intend to get back on. And then these freeloading morons get all pissy when called out for their bullshit. Yes, morons. Like really selfish clueless morons. Again, I sometimes find it useless to ask them if they're stupid. It's somewhat polite, I'm not calling them stupid, and in my delusions I think they might ponder whether they are in fact stupid. But deep down I know I'm wrong, they're so stupid, they will not reflect on their stupidity or ever improve.
Is there a place that wouldn't be insulting? Maybe Costa Rica.
Sloths are badass.
Funny enough, in London, it's move on the left on an escalator. Pass on the right if you're a car. And mayhem if you're a pedestrian on a sidewalk: half the people dodge to my left in a head on conflict, the other half dodge to my right. I see no pattern (maybe locals vs foreigners).
There is no pattern, but somehow my English brain can read the body language and avoid people 99.9% of the time.
That's insulting everywhere. Even if there was consensus about escalator etiquette (in Europe and America), that's still needlessly offensive.
People too often assume how other people need to behave and then freak out when they don't. Apparently, japanese can assume such behaviour, at least on the escalator.
Still, throughput is higher when you have two lines standing on an escalator, instead of leaving one line open for rushers. Though throughput would be even higher, if everyone stampeded up the escalator on both lines. So how SHOULD everybody behave?
But even when you think of that terrible statistic, when the next train comes -- there is not enough room. Because the platforms are not long enough and/or the signalling equipment can't handle it, they can only run trains of a certain length. When a train is cancelled, then it causes mayhem down the line as people cram to get on the trains to get to work. If you have 5 trains an hour, you only have to get to a delay of 12 minutes before you need to cancel a train. It all snowballs.
Basically, what I'm saying is that it's not like Japan doesn't have all the problems you've stated, it's that they realise that if they don't deal with the problems quickly the entire system breaks down. As others have said, some of it is cultural (Japan is a rule following culture so if you put up signs saying "This is the rule", then by and large people will follow it). But other things are just that the train companies realise that it is more than worth their while to pay for solutions to small problems in order to avoid the snowball effect. For example:
- There is a guard on the platform almost all the time. My dad actually dropped his bag on the tracks once and the guard quickly and efficiently retrieved it.
- They have equipment to inspect and clear the tracks. They use it regularly. Japan does not have large herds of animals in general, so animals are less of a problem it seems. But the shinkansen has very large fences all along the length and the track is regularly patrolled. My mother in law lives near the shinkansen tracks and I've seen them patrol the tracks several times a day.
- Virtually every street crossing is controlled. This makes a big difference.
- People with disabilities are looked after by guards at the station, not the conductor. When you go through the gates, you can ask for a wheelchair. The guard will go and get one. They will accompany you to the platform and make sure you get on the train. They will call ahead to your destination and a guard will meet you to take you off the train. Also, it's important to understand that the platforms in Japan are almost universally perfect so getting on and off the train is very easy.
- Technical breakdowns are rare because they spend money on maintenance. However, in the UK, I recall hearing that many of the problems are due to people stealing copper wire from the switching equipment to sell as scrap copper. Again, this is a cultural thing -- that kind of crime is just incredibly rare in Japan.
Trains are relatively expensive (about the same as the UK), but the main answer to your question is that they are managed really well. They use the money efficiently to stop small problems becoming big problems.
Given the inherent randomness of traffic, it might just make more rational sense to have busses at 'intervals' instead of specific times.
Might make for more throughput.
Handling that is an infrastructure and priority question. Given the political will one can build bus lanes and equip buses with a radio system which enables priority on traffic lights. In my hometown (Munich, Germany) this works quite well and most buses see mostly green lights.
There was a discussion on reddit recently talking about this issue in context of LA's buses. People don't mind if the bus is on time if there's one every 5-10 minutes but in non-rush hour times, having to wait 20+ min at a stop is too long.
In normal situations, the arrival time doesn't change, and the train pulls in within seconds of the right time. It is startlingly precise (to someone used to American transit), even during high traffic times in the middle of Tokyo.
Off the top of my head, during busy hours for me going towards Tokyo there would be a train every 5-8 minutes. (And there are multiple lines, although I'm quite far out, so they condense as they get closer).
Yes, only Houston has this problem, not almost every single bus system in the world.
Aghh, I hate the Minneapolis bus system, I remember two times in the winter when the bus just didn't come, real nice when it's -8F outside. Or buses being 15 minutes late. But worse of all are the bus drivers themselves. However the Blue Line and Green Line follow the schedule much better then the buses. If your in Minneapolis your best off either driving, biking, taking LRT or catching a Lyft or Uber.
Often when different lines meet the tracks are organised such that the trains pull up together on either side of a platform: a so-called cross-platform interchange. The passengers on either train then have 30 seconds or so to board the other train if they wish to change. Obviously this has to be precisely timed - if one train is late or the other departs early, the transfer can't take place.
It really is an amazing system, a wonder of the world. There's one part of the yamanote line that runs parallel to the keihin-touhoku line. In this section, the K-T line acts as an express, whereas the yamanote generally stops all stations. So as the lines meet, you'll have a bunch of people get off the yamanote onto the "express" keihin-touhoko - they arrive synchronously, then the keihin speeds past a few slow poke yamanotes, before arriving in sync again with a yamanote a few trains ahead of the original one, so people can switch back before the keihin diverges and goes off on its route. It's unbelievable, choreographed like a steel ballet. The best train system in the world bar none.
Of course, being London sometimes the times are off and the system probably wouldn't work if the station was not close to the ends (less predictability due to random delays)
As you stare deeper into the rising, darkening mist of the pint, you edge ever closer to it. Until the darkness obscures all else in your view.
Still better than bus eireann, where if you're getting on in the last 25% of the route, the timetable is often every hour, +/- 30 minutes, which means there could be a bus at any time and it's not likely to be the scheduled time.
There are lots of little hacks like this because trains always stop in the same place, and leave at the stated times.
Transfer times are often quite short too, particularly if it’s just walking across the platform.
People in the U.S. pay for reliable service, we just get a lot less in return. The D.C. Silver Line cost $150 million per km, even though it's almost entirely above-ground and mostly runs through low-density suburbs along highway medians that were specifically reserved for it decades ago when the highways were built. Stockholm, in contrast, built a new line mostly underground through central Stockholm for about $250 million per km.
I can't do that, I always worry I'll be delayed somehow haha
That was an eye-opening experience. Firstly the realization that the schedules didn't really mean anything there (the bus showing up 30 minutes later than advertised), secondly the entirely insane experience on the bus itself - ranging from the behavior of the driver to that of the other passengers.
After that we immediately grabbed a taxi to a car rental place.
Try taking the public transit in Monaco, for example - most do it. It's hilarious. Full gowns, diamonds, the works.
What structure would help preventing this ?
doors set to stop people too far from trying to get in ?
You will often have a train/subway stop before it gets to the platform, just a 200 or 300 or so meters away, then start again.
I heard this was so that they would arrive at exactly the time they were supposed to arrive.
It's one of the things I miss most about Japan, a simply amazing dedication to their craft.
I have experienced several long slow approachs in Zurich so that the subway could arrive and stop as the second hand ticked to 12.
Source: uncle worked in dispatch room in US; many of my salarymen comrades were train buffs and they tried to convert me.
It's better to arrive exactly on time.
Keeping trains on schedule is a reason. A very good reason to do something. It is unlikely that earlier arrival would have benefited anyone in cases like this, where they likely would have had to wait the equivalent time at a different transfer stop or signal, given that the whole system is timed so well.
The opportunities of an idling train, accessible at a platform greatly outweighs a non acessible idling train
In Japan, people are nervous if a train departs early/late by 30 seconds.
In Switzerland, people are nervous when a train is 2 minutes late.
In Germany, people are nervous when a train is 10 minutes late (unless you are passing through Frankfurt, where you can expect 30 minutes)
In Italy, people are happy a train shows up (hello Naples).
They'd be penalised ( say ) 2 points for each late arrival but 8 for early arrival, and the same for being seen to stop ahead of the specified location.
I only did it for a couple of years but it was very interesting to watch the pros and made me appreciate the difficulties of maintaining schedules.
So yeah, not cool.
Didn't Italians hang the guy that made the trains run on time? What did they expect?
"Train 425 Dpt. Union Station (7:10) delayed 5 minutes."
"Train 425 Dpt. Union Station (7:10) delayed 20 minutes."
"Train 425 Dpt. Union Station (7:10) delayed 45 minutes."
"Train 425 Dpt. Union Station (7:10) delayed 90 minutes."
"Train 425 Dpt. Union Station (7:10) canceled due to equipment problems."
And, of course, the text message saying the 7:10 is delayed by 5 minutes comes in at 7:20.
Fixed that for you.
Assuming that some day I have a pressing need to travel from Bakersfield to Fresno, that is, because as I understand it there's still no commitment to construct the other parts. Train advocates assume that once the middle part is built the rest will inevitably follow, while train skeptics are looking forward to mocking the puny ridership numbers on the nowhere-to-nowhere line and saying "I told you so".
> Although from what I've heard
Don't believe everything you hear. After drinking tea, moaning is Britain's favourite pasttime.
Railways in Britain are very similar to the Netherlands:
There's a local bus waiting at the platform of the Papiermühle stop. When the train arrives, people walk across the platform (five meters) and thirty seconds later the bus leaves. The bus has a tight schedule. Bus drivers usually sportily speed uphill to the end stop and downhill back, so people can transfer to a different train back to Bern already arriving.
What would it take to get a profitable train system in the US?
Even then, JR Hokkaido, which serves the relatively sparsely populated Hokkaido region, has been unprofitable for a long time.
Try to imagine what the market is like for intercity transportation that is more expensive than driving or taking a Greyhound and yet more than twice as slow, and doesn't connect you to an effective intracity transportation network once you arrive. There weren't many passengers.
Rail transportation is very important in the US, but it's all for freight, which takes up a similar proportion of rail as passenger does in other countries.
Amtrak does run some profitable passenger rail lines in the US, including some places you wouldn't expect, like the Oklahoma City-Dallas line IIRC. There is an interstate connecting those cities, and the population density isn't exactly really high there so IDK.
Other countries (e.g. Britain) share most tracks between passengers and freight, and therefore need to maintain the track to a very high standard, and run freight trains at a much higher speed than is seen in the USA. (e.g. 80km/h or 55mph for a coal train isn't unreasonable, or 120km/h = 75mph for a container train)
* Upgrading signalling systems at technology progresses.
The latest systems use in-cab signalling, so the driver can't fail to see a signal due to fog etc, and the train's computer is aware if a signal is missed and will stop the train. (These systems are decades old, but I've read that they're not common in the USA. It took a couple of major accidents in the UK for them to be installed.) [Search ETRMS rail, or in-cab signalling].
GSM-R, i.e. the railway version of the original European mobile phone system, provides a big red button. If pressed, all trains in the area are immediately stopped. A driver would press this if the train is expected to crash, or has crashed. That can stop an oncoming train on the opposite track. [Search GSM-R]
* Maintaining the track to a high standard
Running a measurement train  over the whole rail network regularly, which accurately measures "the track geometry and other features such as overhead line height and stagger, and the track gauge, twist and cant". Changes in this can show where maintenance is needed much earlier than a visual inspection, and the data can be inspected retrospectively if there is a problem.
Machine learning is probably the newest/next step for this .
* Thoroughly investigating any accident or "near miss"
An independent group  investigates accidents, with the aim of preventing future accidents rather than assigning blame. The most recent report [3A], for example, finds problems with project management and recommends, "Network Rail should review its project assurance process as applied
to the CASR scheme". The depth of these investigations is comparable to most western countries' investigations of aircraft accidents.
Investigations like this are what leads to posters in stations saying "don't run down the stairs" or "mind the gap" announcements. Falling down escalators or under a train in a platform is much more likely than being involved in a crash while a passenger on a train.
Every single freight train that goes by has at least fifty cars, and they roll all night....
JR also has a decent income from real estate. Train stations are in prime locations, and have a lot of foot traffic, so they build malls around them.
American public transportation systems, even here in the densest part of the country, are easy political whipping boys. Blame whatever you'd like (cars, highways, unions, politicians, etc), it appears that Americans don't care too much about fixing their transportation infrastructure if those fixes don't involve cars.
It's the other way around, Tokyo has higher population density:
New York City:
Land area: 784 km2
Population density: 10,431 ppl / km2
The Special Wards of Tokyo:
Land area: 619 km2
Population density: 15,146 ppl / km2
Manhattan: 27,799/km2 and 59.13 km2
So that's denser than the overall special wards area, but also vastly smaller in both land and total population. Basically 1.6 million people vs 9.4 million people.
Probably significantly easier to have an extensive train network when you're consistently dense for that large an area.
But I would agree that the main reason the US's public transit infrastructure is lacking is just that we like our cars too much. I expect this to get even more pro-car in a self-driving-car world, too.
It's not just unfair, it's completely absurd. Tokyo sprawls like crazy, and a big percentage of the population lives in the outer wards. The special wards are high density, but expensive.
As soon as you go outside of the Yamanote line, the population density of Tokyo falls dramatically (probably to Brooklyn levels). Take the train 10-15 minutes outside of that, and you find lots of detached houses and open land. Yet it's all "Tokyo", and this land area is counted when you see the huge population of the city referenced online.
Tokyo has become a fantasy for people in America who think that urban density solves all problems. Most of these people have not ventured outside of the tourist regions of the city.
This is actually a big money maker for them. Train stations are malls in many cases and JR makes a lot of money from them.
In Japan, in general, the closer your land is to the station, the more expensive it is. So, therefore, the stations are on the most expensive land of each area. ;)
Population density is also proportional, a lot of times, to the distance to the nearest station.
Train schedules are another issue. The slow, stop-at-every-station trains in my area only come every 15 minutes (most often late), and the express train only comes every 30 minutes during the morning and evening commutes, and then every hour outside of those times. In Japan, if I miss a train, I know another will be along in 3 to 8 minutes, so it isn't a big deal. Where I currently live, if I miss the express train, I might as well go home and call it a day.
If the trains where I live came more often, were on time, and could get me to my destination faster than driving, I'd use them. Until then, it is just more convenient to drive, even though I absolutely loath driving.
We could just make the new Transportation super expensive at first and then gradually reduce the price until the correct amount of people can participate. This is essentially how TELSA got rid of the hippie stink from electric cars.
We could accelerate the transition even more by putting an Apple logo on the side of the train.
The Tokaido Shinkansen is around 520km long and connects Kobe (pop 1.5M), Osaka (2.7M), Kyoto (1.5M), Nagoya (2.3M), Yokohama (3.7M) and Tokyo (8.9M). Where could a US railway of similar length connect anything remotely like that many people?
San Diego - Los Angeles - Silicon Valley - San Francisco
That's a 520-550mi ride, buddy.
And you cut out the second largest city in the state, to do so.
Thus rail lost a significant competitive edge.
So basically blame capitalism.
The signaling system is ancient and any real effort to modernize it (like on the L line) is fought by the union which considers modernization a threat to jobs.
Lastly, it's a system that runs 24 hours a day which almost no other train system can claim. finding times for the appropriate maintenance is very difficult and requires all the rerouting you tend to see on the weekends. People litter so much more in NYC than they do in other major cities across the world in my experience and litter on the tracks causes so many issues. And there's little to no time to clear litter daily off the tracks.
The system is underfunded, oversubscribed and outdated.
Just don't have the nerve to increase my taxes if you give that excuse though.
That demonstrates a lot more integrity than the operators of the public transportation network in my city, where they claim that declining ridership is a natural consequence of them improving their service.