Friday, January 24, 2014

My Bus Pass Is Better Than Your Bus Pass, Part One

I was recently looking at a piece of news out of Canada about some Presto TTC card nonsense, and I had an urge to get smug. I then saw another piece of shit news about a time-based transfer system, and that urge got a little bigger. You see, there ain't no transportation system like the one in Tokyo. The maze of trains, subways, el-trains, bullet trains, buses, and streetcars make the TTC look like a severely inbred mutant child who has been abandoned under a bridge and deliberately neglected.
In short, the TTC is EMBARRASSING.
Toronto's "Solutions"
For a country that rich, with that much history, and with that many citizens, Canada should know better. But the operative word is "should." Getting it's transportationally-challenged ass off the couch just isn't a priority.

So now I'm gonna share with you what a Big Girl transportation system looks like. Sit up and take notes, Toronto. There will be a test later.

Step One: The Subway
These trains are considered "underground only."
This system is privately owned but has government financing. It is co-operative, so that a passenger can transfer lines without being charged for two tickets. The Marunouchi Line (the red one, and the line I live on) is rumoured to be owned by the Marunouchi Family. It's one of the oldest train lines in Tokyo, and one of the busiest. We can all assume that the Marunouchi Family sits atop a large pile of money and counts gold for a living. At a starting rate of 160 yen ($1.50), your ticket price is determined by the DISTANCE YOU TRAVEL. It is very difficult to spend more than $2 on a train. If you took the Marunouchi from one end to the other, it might cost you $1.90- and that's a 45 minute train ride. Literally everyone in Tokyo takes the subway at least three times a week. So... that's 30 million people... carry the one... and YUP! That's an ass-load of money.

Oh yeah, and if you leave the station to get groceries for 10 minutes? NO ONE GETS BUTT HURT. You can simply exit the train, get your sh$t, and jump back on. Basically, there's a 30 minute grace period. It's all hooked up with THE MOST AMAZING METRO CARD IN THE WORLD (which will also buy you beer... xmore on that later).

Step Two: The JR Trains (the Japanese National Rail System)
These are most of the "above ground trains."
Starting to feel like an asshat yet, TTC? Because you should. The JR system is one of the biggest in the world, and serves tens of millions of people every day. It's run by the government, and it's insane. Shinjuku station (my neighbourhood) sees over 3 million people every day. That's all of Toronto. In one station. Don't tell me that affordable government-run trains are financially "difficult." The other kids are doing it, Toronto, why can't you?

If you're only going a short distance, the JR is very cheap- starting at 150 yen (about $1.45). It gets pretty pricy if you take it for long distances- the cost of 100 km is almost $20. And yet... there are commuter passes for regular long-distance users, and many companies (like mine) will happily cover your transportation costs in their entirety. This system also connects to TRAINS THAT SPAN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

Step Three: The Shinkansen, or bullet train.

Want to cover huge distances in a ridiculously small amount of time? We got you. Sure, it's not cheap... but what do you expect from a train that goes 300 km/h? This system is actually not even one of the best in the world- it's considered "sub-par" when compared to the European bullet trains. But it's still better that NOT HAVING ONE. And in case you haven't been paying attention, Toronto- you don't have one. You still suck.

Step Four: Everything in between.
Tokyo also has an elevated train in some areas, along with a giant bus system and a super slow tram (streetcar) system. Just in case... I don't know. Whatever. I think I've made my point.

COMING SOON- Step Five: The most amazing metro card in the world!


For reference:

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