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ctowntravel

Is the US behind Asia/Europe with mass transit?

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I always hear how sophisticated mass transit is in Asia and Europe, one of the first things I hear about from those who have visited Japan is how advanced their mass transit is and how behind the US is. I have looked at a few videos of the Japanese Rail and while I do notice they have bullet trains which seem to be used for travel outside of the cities, the only major differences I noticed with their subways for mass transit was a larger network in Tokyo, their subways do seem cleaner, on time and different interiors like lcd screens etc. I am not sure how CTA compares, I have only used CTA, the MTA in NYC and the Metro in Washington DC. My favorite probably being the Metro. 

Is this a general perception or are there aspects I am not seeing that makes Japan or Asia and Europe more advanced than the US in terms of mass transit?

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1 hour ago, ctowntravel said:

I always hear how sophisticated mass transit is in Asia and Europe, one of the first things I hear about from those who have visited Japan is how advanced their mass transit is and how behind the US is. I have looked at a few videos of the Japanese Rail and while I do notice they have bullet trains which seem to be used for travel outside of the cities, the only major differences I noticed with their subways for mass transit was a larger network in Tokyo, their subways do seem cleaner, on time and different interiors like lcd screens etc. I am not sure how CTA compares, I have only used CTA, the MTA in NYC and the Metro in Washington DC. My favorite probably being the Metro. 

Is this a general perception or are there aspects I am not seeing that makes Japan or Asia and Europe more advanced than the US in terms of mass transit?

I haven't been there, but videos of Tokyo's subway shows they have pushers, to cram more & more people into their overcrowded cars.

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Short answer: yes. 

Long answer: depending on where you’re looking at (post-war Europe or technologically advanced Asia), systems and cultures are far different than ours. 

(Not to mention support from their respective governments)

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My experience has been that foreign systems have much better service levels (although they generally lack the 24h service that we have here).

In Paris, off-peak service seemed to be every 2-3 mins, with late night service every 4-5 mins. The trains are a lot smaller; however, and are much busier.

Toronto also has good service, trains come every 3-4 mins most of the day, with later service operating every 5-6 mins. I'm also a fan of their open-gangway trains.

Asian cities generally have giant, new networks. These have been built to the latest standards and have "learned from the mistakes of the past". Typically they have elaborate transfer schemes for convenience and incorporate the built environment into the system. Many neighborhoods are truly integrated into the transit system, so it is a natural first choice for use. Some North American systems do this (notably Toronto and Montreal), but these are the exceptions.

The main difference between the European and Asian systems and the US systems is cultural. In the US, many people only ride at peak to go to work, while in Europe/Asia the systems are used heavily all day. There is more dependence on the system requiring higher investment and attentiveness to the riding public's needs.

 

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To add on to others, part of it has to do with size. The US will never be connected as a whole via terrestrial transit like much of Europe is. In the Netherlands, its not unusually to take 2-3 trains (if you're on the NS system) to get to say, Brussels or Frankfurt. That would never happen in the US unless it was planned ahead of time (I don't know anyone who has transferred on Amtrak that wasn't going to vacation somewhere far away, bar the shuttle services)

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The reason why America itself is WAY behind Asia and Europe is because of the car. After WWII owning a car was the rage of America, while everywhere else public transit was improving. 
 

if people stayed with public transit instead of moving to the suburbs and owning cars, America would be advanced.

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3 hours ago, MARTA2400 said:

The reason why America itself is WAY behind Asia and Europe is because of the car. After WWII owning a car was the rage of America, while everywhere else public transit was improving. 
 

if people stayed with public transit instead of moving to the suburbs and owning cars, America would be advanced.

But cars aren’t the exclusive reason, as was discussed here.

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