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Don't watch the video, just listen to the background noise. One of my fav parts about Tokyo was the subway system, especially the sounds you hear while traveling thru it. Instead of NYC or DC where you get the standard ding-dong or robot voice when the train arrives or doors close, each train in Tokyo has a jingle (think: Zelda when you find a treasure or Mario Kart when you finish a level). The doors closing song is perfectly timed so that when the song is over the doors are closed — so you know whether you have to hurry or whether you have a few extra seconds (kind of like a countdown clock with music instead of numbers). You'll find the same when crossing the street at major intersections (Shibuya, Roppongi). Will miss this when back in NYC.

A post shared by Dennis Crowley (@dens) on

I think I had read about this in Straphanger a few years ago, so it was fascinating to see this on Instagram.

Public transit tends to be a somewhat politicized issue, I’d guess mostly because areas that need large investment are usually already suburban and their tax base doesn’t see the utility, and on the flip side addressing deferred maintenance let alone expansion isn’t necessarily exciting. Areas that have it already should be improving their systems more aggressively, and taking a page from Tokyo’s book.

If we want to see why public transit is so often mediocre, consider the brand of most public transit in the marketplace. Does it have a coherent brand in a given area? Is the price competitive? Is ticketing frictionless? Is it fun to ride?

Cities and regions should be thinking in terms of competition with private vehicle ownership and the brands developed by the manufacturers.