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Authority (TRTA), which operates the subways in Tokyo's metropolitan area, is similar to
other public transit agencies; its stock is owned jointly by the Japanese Government and by
local governments.
Table 3.3 Classification of Passenger Rail Operators*
Classification
Transportation
Main Service
Type
Areas
JR Group
intercity &
6 regions
commuter
Large Private
commuter
4 metropolises
(Tokyo, Osaka,
Nagoya, &
Fukuoka)
Small Private in
commuter
Tokyo & Osaka
Metropolitan Areas
Small Private in
commuter
from large to
Urban Areas
sightseeing
small urban areas
Public
commuter
9 large cities
(subway)
Eidan
commuter
Tokyo
(subway)
Ownership
private & national
government
private
Operators
in 1996
6
15
private
6
private
100
public
(local governments)
public
(national & local
governments)
13
(9)
1
(1)
This table was originally made by Mizutani and modified by the author in accordance with the Ministry of
Transport's Rail Fact Book '96, Japan Transport Economics Research Center, Tokyo, 1996, pp. 8-9. (in
Japanese)
*
Because of its high share of transportation, most Japanese railroad enterprises have
been financially sound. Private railroads are profitable for the most part, and even public
railroads are profitable if depreciation is excluded from their operating costs. The profitability of
Japanese railroads is in strong contrast with that of other industrial countries' railroads 2 .
Despite their high profitability, Japanese railroad companies have traditionally pursued
side-businesses in addition to their train operations. Historically, these side-businesses were
initiated by large private companies to increase their rail patronage. From this point of view, the
most effective side-business was housing and amusement development along rail lines. Some
private companies developed suburban residential areas for downtown office workers, and
I Fumitoshi Mizutani, JapaneseUrban Railways: A Private-PublicComparison, 1993, p. 9.
2 Ibid., pp. 43-48.