Mass Transit Tips From Around the Asia

Commuting every day is stressful. The rush hour traffic and the crowd can exhaust your energy even before you arrive at work. Commuting home from work feels the same way too. If you had been living in a country with an efficient mass transit system, how do you think your commutes will be like? Would you still ride in packed trains elbow-to-elbow with other passengers?

In this article, we’ve rounded up 3 of the Asian countries with the best mass transit systems. We’ll take a peek at how their public transport lines fare during the rush hour. Maybe you’ll get a tip or two on how to make your daily commutes better.

1. Japan

Despite the dense population in Japan’s capital, Tokyo, the city’s mass transit system is still efficient and reliable. Tokyo Metro, in fact, is considered the world’s most extensive urban rail network. It is serving nearly 3.5 billion passengers every year.

Commuting is fast in Tokyo because 80% of its offices are within a kilometer’s distance from a metro or suburban rail station. Though the trains aren’t immune to rush-hour delays, Tokyo Metro still prides itself on its punctuality. They also value precision, so much so that, officials will make a profuse apology if the train leaves the station just a little over 20 seconds early!

Keeping delays to a minimum is Tokyo’s Metro’s number one priority. Only a few people in the city use a private car to travel, so the trains are always packed. The crowd can affect the train’s headway, but not by much. Depending on the line, the headway is 5 minutes on average. The shortest headway during a morning rush hour was 1 minute and 50 seconds.

Tokyo Metro’s secret to minimizing delays is prevention. But instead of adjusting their train schedules, they aimed to change commuters’ behavior. To decongest the trains, the metro company incentivized commuters who use the trains during off-peak hours. The campaign is entitled “Wake Up Early,” because that’s exactly how commuters can catch the train before the morning rush hour.

If you want a commuting experience close to a Japanese commuter’s, consider waking up earlier, and see shorter lines and less crowded trains. While this habit won’t improve a faulty public transport system, it will allow you to arrive at work earlier, and possibly clock off earlier as well.

2. Singapore

Singapore’s mass transit is number 1 in Far & Wide’s list of “Cities With the Best Public Transportation.” SMRT and other Singaporean public transports have the highest passenger satisfaction rate in the world. And according to McKinsey, 80% of the country’s commuters are happy with the mass transit system they’ve got.

Several factors make Singapore’s public transport cut out from the rest. For one thing, commuters can purchase an EZ-link card, which they can connect to an app. It allows them to plan their trips and view their ticketing options.

Fares are also cheap. Singapore’s mass transit ranks first in affordability, and even tourists can attest to that. For only $7, they can avail of a Special Tourist Pass that covers a full day of unlimited travel. If they want to extend it to three days, the price is only double of $7, $14.50.

As if that isn’t good enough, the government still plans to further improve the distance and reliability of the SMRT. Since the country expects population growth, they aim to make the mass transit system accommodate 6 million more people.

Seems like commuters in Singapore don’t need to change anything to improve their commutes. Their public transport system has everything they can ask for. If your country or city is also offering computerized solutions to ease your commutes, like the EZ-link card, take advantage of it. You deserve it, being a taxpayer and a law-abiding citizen.

3. South Korea

South Korea’s capital, Seoul, has twice the population density of New York City. This mass urbanization urged the Seoul Metropolitan Government to continuously improve the city’s public transport system. To start, Seoul’s subway system has been equipped with smart technology. As a result, trains are able to predict bottlenecks before it happens.

Smart cameras are also installed in trains so that it can count how many passengers are boarding, and how quickly they are boarding. The data is used to adjust the train’s speed and frequency.

Because of these innovations, Seoul’s public transport ranked 2nd in McKinsey’s report of the cities with the best public transport system. Not only is the city’s subway system efficient, but their bus lines are also smart. As such, bus headway is optimized, the schedule is followed, and its services are highly reliable.

Indeed, Seoul’s commuters are very lucky. What we can learn from their mass transit system, as well as that of Singapore and Japan, is that a dependable government is behind it all. The public transport operators are praiseworthy, too. So if you want a better mass transit system for your city or country, hold your government and the operators accountable.

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