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September 01, 2014


Douglas Radtke

The model of a lot of the most successful transit networks used in Asia follow a similar pattern:

- MTR in Hong Kong and JR in Japan are actually corporations. MTR is publicly traded on SEHK. The various rail companies in Japan were divided into private entities, which are also traded on their exchange.

JR was split up in the 80s and privatized due to bankruptcy, massive government corruption, profit loss, and fraud, hmm...

- Both Japan and Hong Kong are allowed to have "company unions" for their employees where management plays a direct role in negotiations. Their transit systems subsequently have very few strikes and pay competitive wages without a lot of the negative aspects of the independent labor unions we have in the United States.

Costco for example, almost acts as a "de-facto" company union so I would hope that someday the USA could amend the Labor Act to allow company unions - but likely the AFL-CIO would never allow it.

- Being a public traded entity gives the company a profit motive and incentive for a POSITIVE farebox collection rate. Yes, these systems make money... whereas MUNI, BART, etc lose money.

I think there's a lot we can learn about best practices elsewhere in the globe, but I digress. Just a thought I had Joe.


No worries. As you get more familiar with the Voice, you will note that going off on a tangent is not uncommon here!


Thank you for posting that Joe! A point or two I have been trying to make for awhile. As a regular traveller between London and Paris, Eurostar just wasn't on radar, waaaay too expensive, and a lot of hassle!


I'm back in Les Etats Unis as of last night and had a great trip sans TGV. Here are the final cost figures for your reading pleasure:

From Paris to the Loire Valley quoted from the TGV website above for two was 232 Euros ($302) and we would have needed a taxi to the sole, central station, another or a metro transfer to the airport, plus a car on the Loire end for getting around.

I picked up a rental car a block from our hotel for three days ($292), plus tolls each way ($50, pricy but the roadway was perfect) and diesel fuel for the whole trip including the local portion ($61). Total of $343 or $41 more than just the high-cost rail tickets. This was a no-brainer for any travel by more than a single person. Even with one, it does not clearly favor the rail solution.


Tangents are one of the benefits of reading, commenting, and posting here Joe...
Until I read the definition of Tangent.

Without unbridled comments here at "The Voice" I doubt that there would be the "contributions" made the Civic Minded people that subscribe to this community newsletter.
This is a fun and informative web site.
Tangent-for example Merriam-Webster definition of Tangent is:
-touching a sphere or circle at only one point.
- the trigonometric function that is the ratio between the side adjacent to an acute angle in a right triangle.
-a tangent line, curve, or surface.
-an abrupt change of course.
Which definition do you choose Joe?


d) an abrupt change of course: DIGRESSION (the speaker went of on a ~) is the complete entry in my Merriam.

Thanks for the compliment to the Voice, Holley/Holy.


Joe Baby,
You are the best!
So is this site.
Thank you.


Former Burlingamian currently living in France.

Yes, tickets can be expensive. If you purchase them well in advance, they will be cheaper. Depending on your destination, much cheaper iDTGV or Ouigo trains (also a TGV) are available.

There is no baggage check or security screening. Not sure what you mean by "special approach" -- you pay by credit card, and print the ticket at home or pick it up at the station.

For a trip from say Marseille to Paris, TGV is totally worth it. It takes about 3 hours, and you arrive relaxed and ready to go. It would take over 7 hours by car, not counting stopping for gas or food.

It's cheaper to drive to LA from SF, yet a lot of people take the plane because it's more convenient. The same logic applies here. Perhaps taking the TGV didn't work out for your particular trip, but that doesn't make the whole idea of high-speed rail worthless.

Peter Garrison

The "What happens when I get off the train in a place I don't wanna be?" question has always been the one that defeats the need for expensive HSR. With HSR you need to rent a car after hauling your family on the train to downtown LA. The amount of rental cars, taxis, buses and parking lots will have to increase and may equal the ugly sprawl around LAX. So much for the "green guilt" motivator. If a single working person, your business partners can meet you in the train station for a vending machine lunch.


Thanks, Lolo. I know we are read far and wide and I always appreciate more information. The "special approach" was short hand for the really cumbersome and eventually counterproductive way they handle credit cards. This may have been just for "foreign" credit cards that have not implemented all of the security features the domestic one have.

I predict the TGV will have baggage screening soon. It's the way the world is going.

By the way, you may have been gone for awhile but driving to LA is no longer cheaper. $59 fares are not uncommon and $99 is common. What is the advance purchase price for Marseilles to Paris on TGV?


Just checked on idtgv.com for a weekend in Paris from Marseille, leaving 10/10 mid-afternoon, returning 10/12, arriving early evening. The total price (roundtrip, including taxes) is €105.90.

If you're flexible on date and time, the price can be as low as €50.00 (although not for a weekend).


Thanks, Lolo. That is certainly a good price. If we ever get high-cost rail in California, we probably won't see anything that inexpensive. They are already signalling more than $120 each way as the new target.

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