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Why can't American airports have public transport like this?

Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo-Narita and Shanghai are among other spots in Asia with similar railway links. And this is where it gets depressing. Why can't American airports have public transport like this? Even our most expensive efforts are half-assed by comparison. Compare the best of Asia with, for example, my hometown airport, Boston-Logan. My commute to the airport by public transportation takes almost an hour and requires two changes, including a ride on the Silver Line bus, which, in addition to being at the mercy of automobile traffic, requires, at one point, that the driver step out and manually switch power sources to the bus.

Or how about JFK, where for hundreds of millions of dollars they finally got the AirTrain completed -- an inter-terminal rail loop that can't take you beyond the Queens subway. Heck, it can take 45 minutes, up and down a byzantine array of escalators, elevators and passageways, just to get from one terminal to another, let alone all the way to Manhattan. The distance from Shanghai airport to the city is about 20 miles -- roughly the mileage from JFK to midtown. Shanghai's bullet train covers this distance in seven minutes.

To be fair, not every Asian terminal is so astoundingly convenient. Seoul, Bangkok and Taipei top a list of those without high-speed rail options. Still, they make up for it in ways -- overall convenience, friendliness and efficiency -- that leave virtually any U.S. facility in the dust. (As an added touch, terminals like those in Seoul and Bangkok are stupendous works of architecture.)

I arrived at Taipei's Taoyuan airport the other night without a hotel reservation. The first thing I saw when I cleared immigration was a large information desk staffed by about 10 people in crisp red uniforms. "Do you know if there is a hotel desk," I asked, "where I can find a place to stay?"


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