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Obviously the US has some structural issues, otherwise it wouldn't have these persistent failures. All I'm doing is pushing back against the simplistic "but the US is so big compared to all those tiny countries".

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.




> Why is Australian public transit so much better than American public transit?

I would guess it's because Australia is, like, 99% uninhabited and uninhabitable or borderline uninhabitable[1], 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.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/8ehplw/australian_...


so USA has poorer public transport than Europe because the latter has much more uniform population distribution; USA also has poorer public transport than Australia because the latter has much more skewed population distribution.

american exceptionalism at its finest. :)


Public transit matters where people live. Australia, quite clearly, can more easily focus on good transportation in the small percentage of its land mass where people live.

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.


If you want to hold America to the same standard as Australia, try finding public transportation between Sydney and Adelaide, Alice Springs, or Darwin. (There isn't any.) In the US you at least can take Amtrak to cross those kinds of distances (even if it's cheaper and faster by orders of magnitude to just take a plane instead). It's fine to point out that America's public transportation is severely lacking (which it very obviously is), but being dismissive and reductive of the pertinent facts and realities isn't a good look, and it isn't helpful to public discourse.


It's the Goldilocks syndrome. Population density has to be juuuust right to result in American transit. It couldn't possibly be due to any other factors.........


Frankly, political lobbying is strangling your country. Are there any other developed democracies that allow the level of political capture through lobbying and political donations as the US? That alongside gerrymandering and the politicisation of the judiciary and whole legal process. Not how I'd set up a democracy. The USA was far ahead of it's time for over a hundred years in many aspects of it's system of politics and governance, but right now it seems like it's really fallen far behind.




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