This is a guest post from reader Malcolm M and follows on from his earlier post here.

While transport public transport authorities in the English-speaking world pattern themselves on the successes (and failures) of British policies, perhaps a better model would be look to Japan, particularly in getting the little things right. Why?

  1. Japan is a much larger market, with an annual rail ridership of 7.6 billion compared with a mere 1.7 billion in Britain.
  2. In Japan’s privatisation model the rail operator owns the land, tracks and trains in perpetuity, and can therefore make much longer-term investments than a British rail operator who only has a short-term operating contract.
  3. Japan has a strong culture of service, but in the context of delivering a commercial return on the assets.

Here are some of the little things I noticed on a holiday in Japan.

Excellent signage and amenities within stations, such as shops, toilets and luggage lockers. Over 200 stations in Tokyo now have free wifi (and by the end of this year all the bullet trains will have free in-carriage wifi for their entire route length). All the stations we visited had well-maintained toilets within the paid area, from this station (Shinjuku, the world’s busiest at 3.64 m passengers per day), to unmanned rural stations. All the toilets appeared to have been refurbished within the last 5 years, all had bidets and some had pre-warmed toilet seats.

Platform screen doors at the busiest stations. This is an investment that increases safety and reliability.

Not seen here is that temperature and humidity conditions are comfortable in Japan’s subway stations, unlike systems such as London, Paris and Montreal that can be stiflingly hot during summer. Tokyo has large split system air conditioners to remove heat from the stations and train tunnels. Another alternative is full height platform screen doors, such as in Singapore, so the platform area can be fully air-conditioned.

Queuing marks on platforms to speed up dwell times. Japanese train drivers have learnt to stop their trains within about 10 cm of a mark on the platform, so the train doors are lined up with the queuing areas and platform screen doors (if installed). (Perth uses something similar of yellow “Keep clear” markings on the platform that line up with the train doors so there is a clear space for alighting passengers).

Nearly all stations are stations are gated, and for us the most convenient means of paying was the Pasmo stored-value card, which can now be used on nearly all the trains and buses throughout Japan. Somehow neither New Zealand nor Australia have achieved nationally accepted stored-value cards despite much smaller populations.

There are wayfinding maps and timetables within subway stations, and up-to-date local area maps at street level. We saw these consulted frequently even though similar information is now available on phones.

Multiple entrances for subway stations, which are all numbered and shown on a station wayfinding map. This relatively minor subway station in Sapporo has one lift and 6 entrances with stairs, which no doubt assist with mobility during the heavy snowfalls. Japan’s busiest station (Shinjuku in Tokyo) has over 200 entrances.

Escalators were all maintained to a high standard, and of the many escalators we encountered we only saw 2 out of service. Nearly all were branded Mitsibushi. (Melbourne’s escalator maintenance is an example not to follow. When an escalator at Southern Cross Station was out of service for an extended period trains sometimes had to bypass the station because of platform crowding.) Advertisers use banner ads such as these within stations and hanging from the ceilings of subway trains, but none were backlit and no advertising had sound. Tokyo’s peak hour is surprisingly quiet with only the sounds of footsteps, trains, station chimes and announcements, which no doubt contributes to lower stress levels. There is virtually no road traffic noise because there’s hardly any traffic.

Many train stations have safe bicycle storage, but safe storage is easy to provide in Japan because there is virtually no petty thieving, nor vandalism, nor graffiti. These bicycles would only be protected by a rear wheel lock. The country is so safe that high school students travel independently on trains and bicycles to school and weekend sporting commitments, and we never saw this age group being chauffeured to events in cars by parents.

Most rail stations have a forecourts, which at this station has been developed into a municipal bus terminal. Their co-location provides easy transfers, and both bus and trains use the same stored value cards.

Passenger information displays. Within subway trains there are animated screens above the doors showing the current and subsequent stations in Japanese and English. All trains we encountered throughout the country had very clear recorded announcements before each station in Japanese and English. The quality of sound reproduction and perfection of volume control is something that only the Japanese seem to master.

Express and local services. This notice with a train car depicts the operating pattern of the Tsukuba Express, which was so successful that the competing adjacent line emulated it. The Japanese have perfected the art of operating both express and stopping-all-stations services along a pair of tracks. At some stations the local service stops for 4 minutes on a turn-out track while the express train stops and passes. This train line provides residents of the satellite town of Tsukuba with a half-hourly semi-express service in off-peak hours into inner Tokyo that takes 45 minutes to cover the 58 km journey, whereas the fastest peak services take 52 minutes.

Rehearsed contingency plans. This notice in a Tokyo subway station shows their preparedness for contingencies, including inter-operator arrangements between competing rail systems. In addition to the risks faced by rail systems elsewhere in the world, Japan contends with risks of earthquakes and typhoons. Parts of the Tokyo subway system are below sea level, introducing additional risks.  Bullet train drivers rehearse their emergency procedures monthly. How often do our public transport systems go into meltdown because of the lack of contingency planning, and staff don’t rehearse the contingency actions often enough?

Trams have advertising but it doesn’t cover the windows, so passengers can see out. Better not to look to Melbourne’s model of wraps that cover the windows making it difficult for passengers to see out. Tram are quite rare in Japan now because the busier tram routes have been replaced with municipal subways.

Japan’s attention to detail extends to buses too. This bus stop shelter in Hokkaido protects passengers (most likely school children) from the cold westerly winter winds and heavy snowfalls. It has a door facing east, into the lee of these winds. How many bus stops does New Zealand have in exposed locations with minimal shelter? Photo credit: Google Earth

How can we in the English-speaking world tap into the immense experience of the Japanese? It would be great for our operating contracts to be benchmarked against standards that are regularly achieved in Japan. While we have accepted the model of contracting services to a private sector operator, the political right still sometimes claim that it will bring innovation and investment. Experience from Britain suggests the only innovation is for investments with a short payback period, such as fare structures. Perhaps innovation instead needs to be additional to the base operating contract as separately contracted services, and looking to examples of innovation in vertically integrated public transport agencies such as in Japan.

Japan 7.6 billion annual ridership
UK 1.7 billion ridership

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  1. Great post and really good to see – yes indeed, the Japanese public transport system is so good to use. Lessons for NZ to learn, in bulk, right there. AT – are you reading this?

  2. “All the toilets appeared to have been refurbished within the last 5 years, all had bidets and some had pre-warmed toilet seats.”

    Yes, best toilets I have seen and used in my (albeit limited) travelling.

    “Multiple entrances for subway stations, which are all numbered and shown on a station wayfinding map.”

    Yes, and not only street entrances, but entrances into neighbouring Malls, department stores etc with passages sometimes stretching as far as several blocks away to nearby subway stations. For example, Tokyo station is connected to 6 other subway stations.

    “Tokyo’s peak hour is surprisingly quiet with only the sounds of footsteps, trains, station chimes and announcements, which no doubt contributes to lower stress levels. There is virtually no road traffic noise because there’s hardly any traffic.”

    Indeed, far quieter than Sydney for example.

  3. Whilst New Zealand and Japan are similar in size, our population is 4.9 million, of which nearly two thirds is located in our widely spaced 6 main centres and Japan’s is almost 127 million. Japan has excellent well established urban and transport planning, we have dismissal short term quick fixed urban and transport planning.

    Out of our 16 regions, 2 regions – Auckland and Wellington have ‘extensive’ public transport networks and one region – Waikato, having the potential for a good public transport network whilst the remaining 13 regions have reasonable to non-existent public transport networks.

    If New Zealand wants to have good nationwide public transport to get people, especially in urban areas out of the cars, like the Japan, UK, etc, we need to have a national public transport agency under the Ministry of Transport, to plan, fund and co-ordinate integrated bus, train and ferry public transport services across all 16 regions.

    Since the planet is warming everyday, we need to stop talking and start doing it.

    1. Totally agreed NZTA doesn’t have the skill to do public transport planning and implementation.

      A national public transport agency would be helpful.

    2. It doesnt take a central govt transport agency to improve local PT services and Japan is the case in point. There are many cities in Japan that are equal in size (population and land area) to Auckland, that have good PT networks funded not principally from govt but from non-fare revenue – stations and bus stops there, are shopping destinations (large and small) and sites for mixed use (residential, retail, offices and community amenities). The JP way of PT service design and funding is now very relevant to Auckland thus, especially with the population demographic increasingly weighted towards immigrants of North Asia origin. 25% of Auckland’s population will be of North Asia origin by 2025. Its at 17% as of 2017-2018.

      1. Japan has better planned urban and transport planning than we do. They have almost 127 million people compared to our the 4.9 million. Victoria with its 7 million, has a public transport model that is more suited to NZ and be adapted to NZ, than Japan.

        1. Population differences between Japan and NZ are a red herring in this instance and not an excuse to discount the JP model in favour of Anglo ones. This is NZ’s problem – we only look to Australia, the UK and the US for guidance and not the current world leader in PT service design, build, operate and funding.

        2. Rob Mayo – Why would Japan’s model be better of NZ compared to Australia, UK, etc? Are you just looking at what would suit Auckland or are you at looking at all 16 regions in NZ?

          Auckland is the not the only region, that needs good public transport.

        3. Kris, the opportunity to tap Japan for expertise is of immediate relevance to Auckland and Wellington, given these cities’ existing PT infrastructure and increasing North Asia-origin immigrant population demographic shifts there. We also need to acknowledge the huge influence modern day Japan culture already has on our multi-ethnic millennial generation in NZ…and around the world. The 20th century was the UK-US century and the 21st century is now the Asia century where Japan, Korea and China lead the world in public transport services hence we must look more to that area of the globe for inspiration in the design, build and operation of our own PT service offerings.

        4. “hence we must look more to that area of the globe for inspiration in the design, build and operation of our own PT service offerings.”

          Better idea:
          Take notes from the Orient.
          Take notes from Europe.

          See their pros and cons and different ways of doing things.

          And then come up with solutions and protocols that are suited to New Zealand.

        5. Japan already has big investments in NZ: Oji Paper bought all of CHH’s key assets, Suntory owns Frucor, Kirin owns Lion, Asahi owns Independent Liquor, Sumitomo and other JP trading houses buy a large % of NZ’s log and processed wood exports, Sealord is 50% owned by Nissui, Obayashi Corp was a key part of the Waterview Tunnel build…the list goes on. NZ is now on Japan’s overseas transport infra investment radar. You’ll be seeing more visible activity in NZ from some of Japan’s largest transit companies in the coming years.

        6. Just because Japanese part-own many NZ enterprises doesn’t mean that they’d think NZ is a lucrative market for transport.

          NZ isn’t actually a very big market nor economy.

        7. You’d be surprised Daniel in how Japan Inc views the value in doing business in New Zealand. Like for transport, the three largest beverage manufacturers in Japan do not view (on a number of levels) our country as a small, unimportant market.

        8. Do you know what Rob Mayo?
          You talk to me in this authoritative tone. But it’s pretty obvious that what you’re stating as somehow fact is merely instead how you’d desire things to be.
          I have no reason to believe that there will be any input from Japan in New Zealand’s urban planning nor public transport planning. All you’ve got are irrelevant cherry-picked facts and your inflated opinion of all things Japanese which is not remotely convincing.
          If I even remember this discussion in 5-10 yeares time; I will know that none of what you’re telling me will have eventuated.

  4. Really good post thanks. So many details to consider.

    “Trams have advertising but it doesn’t cover the windows, so passengers can see out. Better not to look to Melbourne’s model of wraps that cover the windows making it difficult for passengers to see out.”

    The advertising on Auckland’s buses that cover the windows is really annoying. The worst ones mean you can’t focus on anything outside, which is really unnerving and creates bus sickness in many people. Even the least invasive designs heighten the mirror effect in the evening.

    This is important from the point of view of women feeling safe, too. I know women who say being able to look out the window is how they keep their distance and prevent men who think even a split second of eye contact or an acknowledgement of their presence is encouragement. When they can’t look out the window, their ability to keep themselves safe is stolen.

    When all cars have to have advertising plastered just so drivers can afford the mode, then it would be equitable to have to advertise on buses. Until then, it needs to stop.

    1. Another reason why wraparound advertising is a terrible idea: people outside the vehicle can’t see in.
      The best advertisement for your bus service is that people on the street can see that people like themselves are in the bus.

  5. It is my understanding that the tram lines are mostly owned and run by private companies (as used to be the case in the distant NZ past) and that they frequently found that they had a profitable opportunity by undergrounding them. This greater degree of grade separation meant the underground line could be faster, more frequent and more reliable than competing transport options.
    These private ‘tram’ companies learnt to make profits from all parts of the system -the origin real estate opportunities, the transport fares, the destination business opportunities.

    It is doubtful NZ cities could fully support such a complete privatised system but it should be possible to learn and adapt aspects of it.

    150 years ago some of the British train engineers that helped build NZs rail system then went to Japan to teach the Japanese about trains.

    Maybe we should reverse that process?

    1. It is also quite important to build a grade separated light rail as much as possible.

      Any light rail that shared traffic with cars are generally not that successful. Under-grounding is more expensive but also has a much better end product.

    1. They have competing train companies and competition from other transport modes. Also small properties have a lot of freedom to build up. Land prices are higher in Tokyo than in London but houses prices are less because of greater productivity in land use. In other words there is much more competition and choice in their multi-modal transport and land-use system.

      1. Agreed. Hong Kong has a monopoly system, where Japan has a competitive system.

        Hong Kong MTR has consistent experience and easy transfer.
        However fare is high and land around station also become monopoly supply, which makes the apartment price expensive. The development is more a cookie cutter style and lacks creativity.

        Japan system has diversity and the developments around it can be quite different and they try to be creative and different to attract customers. However the transfer between different operators is expensive and more complicated.

        1. Its neither complicated not expensive to transfer between JR East services for example, and the services of all the major private rail service operators in the Greater Tokyo area. The JR Suica card and private rail Pasmo card services are interchangeable and the journey pricing is now very similar for many lines.

        2. Transfer between Hong Kong lines has discount similar to Auckland Zoning price.

          Where in Tokyo transfer between different operators doesn’t offer much discount.

        3. Well that’s a downside of Japan’s system. We need that discount; the transfers that make our network function rely on in it.

        4. Japan’s PT fare structure (for trains and buses) is distance based, passengers are not charged for transfer between services and discounts are given based on the number of times per week a person uses a service. Discounts are in the form of a concession card or a loyalty points card where the user can use accrued points to top up their IC card.

        5. I found no issues transferring between lines. Sure you have to tag out and in again but all use same card (even if called different names) everywhere in country. You can even use the cards at convenience stores and some vending machines.

        6. The transport cards in Japan can be used at a wide range of retail outlets nationwide. The JR East SUICA card for example, can be used at all retail outlets (incl dept stores), restaurants and vending machines located on station premises. The variety and availability of retail, restaurants and vending machines at JR East stations is impressive and makes the SUICA card extremely useful.

  6. Re: “In Japan’s privatisation model the rail operator owns the land, tracks and trains in perpetuity, and can therefore make much longer-term investments than a British rail operator who only has a short-term operating contract.”
    The structure of the public-private arrangement is crucial. There are bad public structures (such as the govt only investing in motorways) and bad private structures (monopolies).
    I believe if a cities regulatory structure facillitates more choice and more competition that is likely to lead to better outcomes.
    Also externality costs like congestion, car parking and CO2 emissions need to be allocated (priced) or else it distorts choices.

    1. Finding the right balance between the public and the private realm is difficult.

      This issue exposes cultural values and deep ideological assumptions. It can be about philosophical belief systems.

      I am told in the west we prefer dualism. Black and white. Mind versus body. Public versus private. Individual freedom versus collective action. Libertarianism versus communism. Order versus mess etc.

      In Japan the two can be merged together. Order for instance can be about being receptive to mess.

      1. I suspect that resolving these deeper underlying values and philosophical belief systems is the blockage that NZTA and the MOT have struggled with between choosing AT’s Dominion Road trams versus a more grade seperated system proposed by the Superfund.

        1. I never understand why it is considered a good thing to provide wifi on trains and platforms. Same with planes.

          Was in London when a survey return most opposed this and 3/4/5G on the Tube.

    2. Kiwirail whilst being a state owned company owns the track and rolling and due to its protectionism of its own business, is not keen for any other rail operator/s including heritage railway museums to use the rail network as it might ‘disrupt’ their freight services.

      I feel that the land, track, signalling and train control infrastructure should be be operate independent of any rail operator like in the UK, Victoria, etc. Ownership of track and associate infrastructure by one rail operator restricts rail development, especially in NZ’s case, the re-introduction of regional rail and other private rail operations like Antipodes Explorer and the re-introduction of the overnight Auckland to Wellington train service by a private consortium.

      1. Operation and maintenance of track, signalling and Train Control in Victoria is not separate from train operations whether in Melbourne (MTM) or elsewhere ( VLine) . There is a government entity called VicTrak, but they are essentially a rail land owning agency

    3. There are 6 major passenger rail companies operate under the banner of JR (Japanese Rail Group) and 1 national freight company, 16 major regional rail companies and dozens of smaller local railway and light rail companies.

      Japan railways is overseen by Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency – a Japanese Government administrative agency (JRTT). JRTT is also the parent entity of the following JR companies – Hokkaido Railway Company, Shikoku Railway Company and Japan Freight Railway Company.

      1. To clarify, only three companies of the JR Group (former state-owned Japan National Railways) – JR Hokkaido, JR Shikoku and JR Freight are overseen by JRTT. JR Hokkaido and JR Shikoku are continuously loss-making but JR Freight is in profit.

        JRTT is very hands off in regard to these three company’s investment and operational decisions as its main investment focus is on the construction of Shinkansen lines.

        At some point JRTT may well exit their ownership of the three JR companies as its acknowledged throughout the sector that their core competency lies in rail construction and tech research.

        The JR Group do not abuse their position in the marketplace vis a vis the many, many private sector PT service companies that in fact wrote the book on quality rail service provision and TOD back in the 1920s – Tokyu built the world’s first successful TOD in 1923. The reason they do not / cannot abuse their position is that the major members of the JR Group – JR East, JR West, JR Central and JR Kyushu, are fully privatised entities and thus compete fairly in the marketplace as was intended by the govt when JNR was broken up in the 1980s.

        JR Hokkaido and JR Shikoku are in areas in Japan where there is yet no significant private sector competition thus are JRTT-owned but that may well change in the next 10-15 years once the Hokkaido Shinkansen line reaches Sapporo. The govt has no plans at all to put the Shinkansen into Shikoku by the way.

        1. Doesn’t our smaller population mean that there simply isn’t the space in the market to have fair competition?

        2. Mum of Two: There are many cities in Japan similar in size to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch that have only one PT service operator and those operators run in profit due to investment in non-fare revenue sources. NZ thus has plenty of space in the market thus for competition and ‘market-funded’ growth.

        3. Mum-of-two NZ would not necessarily need to go as far as privatising the mass transit provider. It could be a not for profit special purpose vehicle for instance. The importance is learning how to access the non-fare box and non-government subsidy revenue streams.

        4. Also it is important to learn how to integrate housing and mixed use development with mass transit. Japan learnt that 100 years ago. We are still struggling with the concept.

      2. JR Hokkaido has not yet broken itself up into Third Sector line operators like has happened in Kyushu and Honshu. Third Sector rail line operations, work, as the problems are duly localised and innovation at local level brings those lines back into the black. Likely after the Shinkansen service reaches Sapporo, JR Hokkaido will step away from its current island-wide service coverage obligations, hiving off its loss-making routes to Third Sector Rail companies.

  7. Seems in NZ too much clipping the ticket going on and style over substance with the likes of very expensive bus shelters that provide little in the way of protection.

  8. Our public transport and land use bureaucratic and leaders only knows the British model – which is a OK model, but not the best.

    They should need to learn from other more successful models such as japan.

    1. I think NZ’s civil servants and politician’s (from the least powerful Councillor all the way up to the Finance and Prime Minister) are completely stuck in the city building space.
      There are so many interlocking agreements reform has become nigh on impossible yet the status quo is a housing and climate crisis.
      The consequences are dire. Local and central government politicians and bureaucrats somehow need to align themselves around a reform agenda for the greater good.

        1. A sense of being stuck had political ramifications for the Wellington Mayoralty race too. Central government politicians should take note.

          Political journalists have described Justin Lester as…
          “Three words dominated the Wellington mayoral race: Smile. Wave. Stuck.

          The first two were used by aspirant Andy Foster as stinging dismissals of incumbent Justin Lester’s record over the previous three years.

          They stuck.

          So did the sense of a region “going backwards”. A capital city “stuck”.”

    2. Decision makers having some knowledge about more successful transport and land use models like Japans would be extremely helpful.

    3. The best model of NZ is what the Victorian State Government has down with their new Dept of Transport, which is responsible for PTV (Public Transport Victoria for all public urban bus, trains and trams services), Victrack (the state’s rail and tram infrastructure company), Vicroads (the state’s road agency), V/line (the state’s regional passenger rail and bus networks) and so on.

      Victoria’s Dept of Transport is similar to NZ’s Ministry of Transport.

      1. The outcomes in Victoria don’t make for good reading.

        Public transport patronage per capita falling, service provision per head falling and the bus network is a shambles. PTV is powerless, and attempts for large improvements in train and bus service have been canned by the state government, and bus lanes being removed for road widening etc. Trains run every 40 mins on Sunday mornings in many areas, with passengers standing for 30+ minutes.

        Infrastructure and service planning is non-existent, with a 50bn$ rail project being announced that was not known by PTV or DoT. The PTV plans, in place since 2014 were ignored.

        If your goal is to get more people into cars and into motorways and local roads, Victoria is a good model. Of course not all of it is due to the governance structure, but PTV and TfV being toothless doesn’t help.

      2. Cam – I disagree with you. I am not sure which state government you are referring too but Its all go with the current state government.

        Public transport is growing to the point, there is overcrowding on Melbourne metro trains and Yarra Trams with new metro/regional train and tram rolling stocks have been ordered, building of the new suburban rail loop, increasing of metro train capacity on the western metro lines, upgrading of the Ballarat and Bendigo lines, upgrading of the regional rail lines and the list goes on.

        PTV is now pressuring MTM consortium and Yarra trams operator to meet their contract terms, in regards to on time performances. etc.

        There are more dedicated bus and tram lanes which is upsetting motorists especially in greater Melbourne.

        1. I agree there there is a lot being done, but it is important to cut through the press releases and look at the actual statistics.

          The government is very good at selling big infrastructure, but the actual data paints a more mixed story. I encourage you to go beneath the headlines and look at the real state of the public transport in Victoria.

          For example:
          Public transport service per capita falling substantially: (from

          Here is the public transport patronage per capita:
          There is a very obvious fall. Yes, public transport patronage is growing in absolute terms (extremely slowly), but at a rate much slower than population growth.

          Here is patronage growth compared with population growth:

          For a comparison, here is Sydney in the same period:

          Where are the dedicated bus and tram lanes? All I can see from the last couple of years is the impending removal of bus lanes in Templestowe:

          This is why it is incredibly important to look at the bigger picture – big announcements and reveals ‘feel’ very good, but without actually aggregating the data and finding the true state of the network, it is hard to get a grip of the actual performance of PT, not just the flashy headlines and government spin.

  9. “While we have accepted the model of contracting services to a private sector operator, the political right still sometimes claim that it will bring innovation and investment”.

    And the political left that is soft on crime which results in rampant vandalism of trains, buses and stations as well as anti-social behaviour as shown today where a cyclist refused to move from priority seating when directed to by the TM and told him to **** off.

    1. That cyclist obviously subscribes to right wing values of freedom, rugged individualism and screw everyone else, especially the vulnerable. Is he your mate?

    2. In the States they just locked up a guy for eating a sandwich in a train station. With crime busting like that the US must be almost crime free now don’t you think?

      1. And in Japan and Singapore he’d probably face severe penalties for his actions.

        Judging by some of the responses here, that’s not what they would like to see.

        As quoted here from a NewsHub article, it’s a good way to encourage people to use PT –

        He believes the mother and baby may have been “put off” from catching the train after the incident, as he usually sees the pair daily but has not seen them since.

    3. Funny how all this stuff was happening under a more right wing government too. The TM was a “she” by the way. Funny how the actions of one apparently selfish cyclist can make such headlines yet the many selfish car drivers making life hard for many don’t get reported on so much. Parking on paths and cycleways throughout the city putting mother’s with babies in prams in danger for example.

  10. The comparison of Japan and the UK rail with New Zealand rail is a good one in that we are all island nations of approximately the same size however with us having a much smaller population. And that’s the problem. Is either Japans private sector model or the United Kingdom privately owned franchises the right model for New Zealand. In my opinion its too late for us to go down either route and we should just do things our own way. Sure we should copy the good parts of station and train design and operations. Obviously Auckland Transport is copying overseas practice as it should and I am impressed with the drawings for stations at Huntly and the Base for the new Auckland Hamilton service so the Waikato regional council is trying to provide good facilities as well. The next big expansion of passenger rail will be into the Waikato. All players will need to take a cooperative approach to make this a success.

    1. If PT is wholely reliant on government funding it is likely to mean insufficient PT projects will be built and the projects which are delivered will be politically focused.
      If NZ uses some of the lessons learnt in Japan then government PT funding can be extended by funding from private revenue sources, meaning more PT projects can be delivered and they can have stronger economic fundamentals.

      1. That is why we need an independent public transport agency to fund, plan and co-ordinate all public transport across all 16 regions of NZ just not a few. If Victoria can do, NZ can do it.

        1. Kris do you think the Finance Minister Grant Robertson will fund this big PT provider you want? Do you think all the other Cabinet Ministers will agree to forgo funding for their Ministries so that this new PT department will get extra funding?
          What arguments will you use to convince them that the PT department needs more funding than say Health or education or Housing or Social Welfare or Defence or Police…

        2. Brendon Harre – yes, I do. Creating a national public transport agency is a cheaper option for all 16 regions, than what we currently have at the moment in funding 3 or possibility 4 regions, as the new agency would be deemed to be ‘ Strategic’ asset like NZTA is.

        3. Brendon Harre – The national public transport agency would be a crown entity under the Ministry of Transport, like NZTA, CAA, Maritime NZ and TIAC are.

          The national public transport agency would take over the public transport functions from NZTA, leaving NZTA totally responsible for roading and road licencing.

          There is no requirement to have a separate government department/ministry for national public transport agencies

        4. So Kris PT would be taken off NZTA and local/regional government plus AT and given to this new entity that would be the equivalent to NZTA? Other than that there is no change to our urbanism model or its funding?
          Isn’t that just moving deckchairs around?

        5. Brendon Harre – No. it is not about moving the deck chairs. The national public transport agency totally responsible for all planning, funding, coordinating and contracting of an integrated urban, semi rural, rural, intra and inter-regional bus, rail and ferry public transport network operating under one brand and ‘tap n travel’ payment/ticketing system, covering all 16 regions in NZ, in association with its HUD, NZTA, city/district/regional council partners and transport suppliers.

          The public transport agency would not fund or be responsible for any long distance passenger train service/s, ‘bookable’ intra and inter-regional bus/coach services due to their respective business and operational business models.

        6. @Kris; I’m not saying you’re wrong.
          But I would like to question the political reality of parochialism in New Zealand. A lot of people don’t like their taxes paying for something in another part of NZ that they don’t think they will benefit from.

  11. The thing that I like and have seen is the way that passengers getting off the trains have the right of way over the ones that want to board . Have tried to get off around the Auckland network and had to fight my way through the groups that want to board . The worst place was Britomart when the train arrived in and all the people trying to board as we tried to get off even though they had a 10minute wait before it left .

    I wish they had markings on the platforms shaped like a funnel telling people were to stand before boarding so those that get off can make it faster .

    1. Really? I’ve never come across this before in any city. Must be an Auckland only thing.

      Maybe they should’ve designed the CRL stations with the Spanish solution…

  12. “While transport public transport authorities in the English-speaking world pattern themselves on the successes (and failures) of British policies”
    I don’t think that’s true at all.

    Even within the UK itself: The Tyne-and-wear metro is clearly modeled upon Stadtbahn’s common in western Germany. The Subways in Toronto and Chicago seem to follow the pattern of the New York Subway. None of the rail networks in Australasia look like anything in the UK and Sydney’s rail network and the new metro is clearly different from anything else in the anglosphere.

    1. The Anglo world does not properly cost car related externalities like Japan does. And it doesn’t allow rail providers to capture land use benefits as well either. Thirdly they tend to have less competition in both multi-modal transport provision and in land-use. This makes Anglo PT systems more dependent on fares and/or government subsidies and Anglo-world city housing and mixed use urban floor spaces more expensive than they should be.
      There is a distinct pattern if you analysis it properly.

      1. By “Anglo-world” you mean the Anglosphere, right? Countries where most people speak English.

        Seems odd that you single-out the Anglophone world and then generalise across it. No consideration for the Francophone world? Or the Lusophone world? etc…

      2. Oh and by “Capturing land use benefits; are you meaning something like the shopping mall, headquarters of Coca-Cola Europe and bus terminal on top of Hammersmith Underground station in London? Or the considerable amount of rented office Space as part of the Thameslink Station complex also in London?

        1. Are you talking about the article “Planning and transport postcard from Japan”?
          Because if you are: A lot of that is already done in London (alone). Aside from the restrictions on automobiles. Not saying that I disagree with them, but most of the electorate would not be happy about having to prove you have a parking space for a car.

          I still remain confused as to why you’ve singled out the anglosphere for places who could learn something from Japan. I don’t see any privately owned public transport in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, etc.
          And the UK has private rail operators (on publically owned infrastructure). In London alone there’s more than ten.

        2. Daniel, NZ as you know, has often looked to Australia, the UK and the US in the past for guidance in public transport service design. Given Japan remains the world leader in PT service design, build and operation, and the fact that Auckland has a significant portion of its population that have immigrated from JP PT-influenced North Asia countries, as this article points out, wouldnt we be wise to look to this part of the world now for guidance as our city builds its PT network and services? We are obliged by the modern day multi-ethnic nature of our city to look to various places around the world for guidance, not just one set of English language-centered places, surely.

        3. Hi Rob.
          You could be correct that NZ has allowed itself to been influenced in public transport service design. If they went for any imitation; they’ve failed.

          But surely if there’s a lesson to be lear]ned form that; it’s to come up with a uniquely New Zealand solution that’s suited to the situations and realities here? Who’s to say that attempting to imitate Japan or any other oriental nation won’t result in just as much of a failure as this imitation of “Australia, the UK and the US” which clearly went awry?

        4. Daniel, to develop solutions that will improve the quality of transit service provision and land use in Auckland, the experience and expertise available from Japan needs to be taken seriously.

        5. This absolutely must come from Japan, must it? No other country is capable of it? And we can’t figure it out for ourselves?

          And has any expert in Japan ever expressed any desire to go to New Zealand to offer their expertise?

        6. Daniel Eyre – I agree with your comment – ‘ Surely if there’s a lesson to be learned form that; it’s to come up with a uniquely New Zealand solution that’s suited to the situations and realities here? Who’s to say that attempting to imitate Japan or any other oriental nation won’t result in just as much of a failure as this imitation of “Australia, the UK and the US” which clearly went awry?’

        7. Rob Mayo – With regards to your comment – ‘Daniel, to develop solutions that will improve the quality of transit service provision and land use in Auckland, the experience and expertise available from Japan needs to be taken seriously’

          Public transport is just not about Auckland region, its about the other 15 regions within NZ. So why can’t NZ develop its own national public transport network based on on ideas/concepts of other countries?

        8. Hi Kris. I am from Christchurch and would like some Japanese concepts utilised down here so we can have mass transit and transit oriented development.
          Whether the national transport agency we have to liaise with is NZTA based in Wellington or a completely separate public transport focused entity based in Wellington is probably not a significant difference.

      3. Other countries worthwhile looking to are Singapore and Switzerland. While Japan’s ownership model has limited direct portability to New Zealand, we can still learn from it. Perhaps the ownership of land and receipt of tax on the value uplift of surrounding land could be with a publicly governed body, while the public transport services are operated by a contractor.

        When Japan’s cities were growing rapidly their municipal authorities were not afraid of taking on debt for transit expansion, in which the interest and capital repayments paid from development rights. It is rare for a rapidly-growing city to fund sufficient infrastructure provision from current taxation alone, and a debt structure is required. We use debt structures for our own houses, and shopping centres in new housing areas are financed by debt serviced by future income. Somehow the political right has hoodwinked us into thinking that debt for transit provision is wrong. This leads to under-servicing. The key is instead making sure there is an income stream tied to the new service.

        1. All PT services implemented, must be tied to a revenue stream which is why NZ needs to take a deep dive into the Japan non-fare revenue generation model. There is much for us to learn and develop from the way Japan develops and uses non-fare revenue streams to fund PT opex and capex.

  13. One thing I notice in this article being mentioned and pictured and something I noticed being absent from the interior of Auckland’s rather sterile EMU interiors is network maps and advertising.
    I’ve always known both network maps and advertising to be inside just about every other EMU, including the EMU’s in Wellington, so why on earth doesn’t Auckland Transport also use the space between the windows/doors and the roof for this purpose? It would also be a source of further revenue for Auckland transport charging for advertising space.

  14. My experiences from Japan are similar to the authors. It is worth noting is that taking PT in Japan is really expensive. I met many Japanese who didnt travel outside their prefecture (local region) due to the cost. Of course driving is too. As a tourist we have access to discounts the Japanese can only dream of.
    The main thing to note on all Japanese PT is the scheduling. Even local buses would arrive on time.
    I also drove in Japan and the anticar brigade here will be happy to know that speed limits are lower on all roads – not that people keep to them. Major roads are heavily tolled. Fuel was similar to here or a bit more.
    And yes the toilets are great!
    And my favourite thing You can buy beer on the train platform

      1. Yes. Can’t forget the great sake and shochu – the latter causing me to miss a train!
        Although I didnt tend to drink them on the train…. just too much at many izakaya

  15. Gee, there’s a little bit too much uncritical Japanese loving going on here for my liking!
    Sure, look to Japan. They do some very good stuff. But their systems aren’t perfect.
    And there’s an awful lot of social, economic, legislative and cultural differences.
    We need to look at a lot of places, including Japan, and then craft a NZ-tailored solution.

  16. Craft a NZ-tailored solution, certainly but be mindful of the already-changed population demographic in Auckland/Wellington, the projected growth rates of the various ethnic communities over the next 20 years and the increasing ’multiculture’ that is contributing to both cities’ ongoing attraction as places people want to live in. The NZ-JP legiislative differences are not significant as Brendon Harre often points out. The social and cultural differences between cities in Japan and Auckland/Wellington are not as big as they once were. Japan’s seemingly homogenous culture and >2019 Auckland/Wellington’s multiculture has a lot more areas of commonality than you think.. The only significant cultural difference remaining between Japan and New Zealand is the more mature, non-partisan attitude the Japanese have towards public transport as a social leveller, a community connector and a valued conduit for daily life-oriented service convenience provision. The Japanese attitude to public transport is a learned experience that began in 1923. Its not a genetic trait. That learned transport experience journey, Auckland is now embarking on but its not necessary for us to wait 96 years before PT becomes similarly deeply embedded in our urban culture.

  17. Sorry disagree. Significant cultural differences. And having a significant East Asian population does not equal Japanese.

    1. Yeah.
      It might be the case if there was a significant minority in New Zealand of Japanese heritage.
      But there isn’t at all. There’s significant communities of “east Asians” in New Zealand but they’re not Japanese they’re Filipinos, Vietnamese, Thais, Malays and Han Chinese from many very different places (different nations like Singapore, Taiwan and completely different cities in China). None of these seem to have much if anything in common with the Japanese.
      There’s a fair few Koreans about New Zealand I suppose, they seem broadly similar to Japanese…

  18. When you really know the language, the people, the culture and the history, the differences become more perceived than actual.

    1. How is it then that Han and Manchu Chinese look distinctly physically different to Koreans and Yamato Japanese? Less similar than (for example) Arabs do with people from the British Isles?
      And that’s that alone, without needing to consider their completely different cultures, languages, etc.

      I must’ve known hundreds of people with some sort of Chinese heritage over the years and not a single one had any affinity whatsoever with Japan or Japanese people. I knew plenty amongst them who held Japan and the Japanese in contempt. Probably because of reasons that include that history which you speak of (such as what happened in that city Nanjing in 1937).

      1. Daniel, we are now offtopic so please find me on Twitter, DM me there and lets have a beer so I can best explain the cultural interplay between Japan, Korea and China and why its relevant in a >2019 Auckland PT context.

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