Ridin’ the rails
Public transportation in Japan is about as perfect as mass transit can get. It goes everywhere, plus it's affordable, safe and reliable - unless of course some salaryman chucks his body and often financially-based problems in front of the oncoming express. It's a system born of necessity. On this archipelagic country, there're simply too many people to make owning a car reasonably affordable or sensible, given the massive urban gridlock and the user fees charged by the government. It's also unlike any other train-based system I've seen. Here, they treat all the trains - even the subway - as trains. As in, there's a conductor, a platform manager who holds a red flag in the day and a lantern at night, numerous and helpful station agents... Real trains. The government and the companies that run Japan know this, so most companies (including mine) subsidize my monthly train pass. I can get on or off as many times as I want, at any station I want, between my home station and my end station. This place must be heaven for a train-obsessed kid, and what proper child of the industrial revolution doesn't at some point have a train fetish? Even the toys here, and Japan is one of the great toy meccas of the universe, are bullet-train based. Affordable bullet trains that transform into robots and combine into bigger robots, and light up and hang off of your cell phone and can do just about anything except the dishes. Trains in Japan rock. Sure, there's buses and taxis here, but the taxis are unaffordable and the buses... well, let's just say that a good command of the Japanese language is recommended before boarding for the first time. Which makes this article, about the government trying to promote public transportation even more than it already does, seem more like a public service announcement than a change in policy. At least, it's nice to see that one country cares about the Kyoto environmental accords from '97.