If you want to talk about density or uniform distribution... Why is Australian public transit so much better than American public transit?
America's governmental structure isn't unique either. There are other countries with the same kind of federalism.
And similar rebuttals can be made for virtually all other explanations.
I guess what I'm really getting at is that in the real world there are no easy solutions or explanations to problems despite the penchant in places like HN and Reddit to try to reduce explanations to a single paragraph. America's problems are likely due to a complex interaction between federalism, its geographic size, its traditional wariness of cities, its first mover advantage turning into obsolete infrastructure, and many other factors besides. But it is hard to know that the relative importance of any of those things actually is.
If you say Belgium can make its own policy, you are almost certainly making an off the cuff comment. There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of Europe-wide rules and regulations on transit that limit what Belgium can do. Belgium has to work across borders just like Massachusetts does. From Directive 95/19 on safety certification to Directive 2005/47 on the working conditions of workers on services that happen to cross a border. Since 2007 every European railway undertaking
is able to off er rail freight services on every line
in every EU country.
It is a mistake to paint a picture where Belgium has unlimited unilateral decision making powers.
I would guess it's because Australia is, like, 99% uninhabited and uninhabitable or borderline uninhabitable, which probably means they can focus resources almost exclusively on the few densely populated areas. Additionally Australia's urban population seems to be significantly higher than America's (~89% vs ~80% according to 5 seconds of Googling I just did) so there's probably greater political will for investing in urban areas, and that political will probably also isn't resisted/sabotaged by an electoral system that grants hugely disproportionate representation to non-urban areas that have little to gain from realistic/economically sensible investments in public transportation.
american exceptionalism at its finest. :)
My state, about the same land area as France has a population density of 39/sq-km, right at the median value for the states. France has density of 122/sq-km. Population density is lower here, where people actually live, than in many locations in Europe or Australia. This may, in part, explain public transportation issues in the USA.