The Secret to Tokyo’s Rail Success

Eric Jaffe @ The Atlantic Cities picks up on John Calimente’s recent JTLU article: The Secret to Tokyo’s Rail Success :

“In other words the railway itself was just a sideline attraction. This is no accident. As John Calimente reminds us in the latest issue of the Journal of Transport and Land Use [PDF], a major reason Tokyo’s private rail lines are so successful is that they’ve diversified the business beyond transportation into real estate holdings and retail outlets. At the end of the day this means both profitability for the company and better transportation for city residents. Calimente writes:

Government regulation of fares coupled with limited subsidies for railway operations pushed the private railways to innovate and diversify into a wide variety of related businesses, most notably real estate. Due to their long-term interest in the communities they built along their rail lines, the private railways provided valuable social benefits through public transportation while still pursuing profits. High quality, frequent rail service to dense, mixed-use, safe, pedestrian-friendly developments has allowed Tokyo to achieve enviable rates of public transit usage and given Tokyoites the freedom to view automobile ownership as a lifestyle choice rather than a necessity.

Take, for instance, the Tokyu Corporation. Established in 1922 as a regional development company, Tokyu today is a massive “rail-based conglomerate” of nearly 400 companies that employs 30,000 people, only a tenth of which work directly for the railway. Beginning in the 1930s Tokyu surrounded its hubs with commercial and retail buildings and sold land near its intermediate stations to universities at good prices, to create reliable residential (and thus passenger) corridors.
Pretty good plan: Tokyu’s seven main rail lines and branch line now carry about a billion riders a year. That’s the most of any private railway in Japan, as of 2006, according to Calimente. That year Tokyu generated $2.63 billion in revenue en route to $587 million in profits. Rail fares brought in about a third of that figure, real estate holdings reap another third, and retail about a fifth.”

[This is from the recent special issue on Value Capture.]

Linklist: May 18, 2012

Brendon sends me to MPR Minneapolis moving toward single-sort recycling

[We have been cheering in our household for a week. We will regain at least 18 square feet of space. I can soon reduce the number of streams identified here. ]

Wikimedia blog: Welcome to the world’s first Wikipedia Town

Fast Company: J. Crew CEO, Apple Board Member Mickey Drexler Reveals Steve Jobs’ iCar Dream, Confirms “Living Room” Plans:

“‘Look at the car industry; it’s a tragedy in America. Who is designing the cars?’ Drexler said. ‘Steve’s dream before he died was to design an iCar.'”

Several folks have sent me to Wired’s take on the paper discussed in the SciAm article I linked to earlier: World’s Subways Converging on Ideal Form

Alex @ Getting Around Minneapolis discusses the rerouting of buses in St. Paul in response to the Central [University Ave.] Corridor Green Line … St Paul transferring

[My #8 bus is getting absorbed by the 67. The rider will be pleased the route now goes farther (actually there are 172 average daily rides over 50 daily bus trips, and they run a full size bus) and hopefully has a higher frequency (it can’t be lower). The #2 is still crazy from a circuity perspective.]

SR sends me to Betabeat, which discusses Zimride: Nine Startups Tried to Teach Brooklyn Bowl How to Share Last Night :

“Next, former Lehman Brothers employee John Zimmer came up to pitch Zimride even though he really didn’t need to. The San Francisco based startup just got funded for $7.5 million. Mr. Zimmer explained that 80 percent of the seats in cars on America’s highways are unoccupied. That’s why he founded Zimride, which allows users to find a driver with empty seats and book a ride just like you would a bus, train or plane ticket.
Zimride is a social marketplace for drivers and riders who can see each other’s profiles and decide if the ride is one they’re willing to take. If it takes off, Mr. Zimmer believes Zimride will help take cars off the road, reduce traffic wait times and help people make new friends. In fact, Zimride has been the catalyst for more than one relationship already—but please guys, it’s not a dating site.”