Rant: Why Are Japanese Trains So Much Better Than American Ones?

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I just got back from Japan and I’m only now getting to sort through all my pictures and process all my experiences and how I can relate them to our little space here on the Web. One thing I noticed: Japanese trains run wild all over ours here in New York, not unlike Hulk Hogan running wild over Macho Man Randy Savage at WrestleMania V.

I traveled some 168 miles on the bullet train from Tokyo to Sendai. (A big Nikon factory is in Sendai. It’s a factory, all right. No pictures allowed and you have to wear protective garments wherever you go.) The train, specifically the E4 Series Shinkansen, has a top speed of around 150 miles/h. The trip took just about two hours. It was pretty amazing, as far as riding trains go: two decks, automatic doors that actually work… it was clean. It was good, in other words. Now why can’t our trains work as well?

We have a car-based culture, no one rides trains, etc. Yeah, I’ve heard the excuses, thank you. But that doesn’t explain why the New York City Subway’s 7 train can’t travel the less than 10 miles from my “pad” into Manhattan without breaking down two times or being held at the station because of traffic. What should take only a couple minutes sometimes takes right around an hour. Really, really great.

And yes, I’ve ridden the Acela. It stinks in comparison to the E4.

With that, I’ll just leave you with a couple of pics on how public transportation should be done.



Japan Rail

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