I've been living my in-motion life on the Tokyo train system for over two decades now, but since posting a few video clips, I realize from comments from overseas that the system here must not be very widely understood. So, rather than focus on the sensational aspect (as portrayed in the gone-viral pack-'em-in video), there seems to be a need to focus a little on the mundane stuff, like ticket gates.
1990 was just before they began automating the Tokyo ticket gates, which might sound slow (San Francisco's BART system was automated when I moved there in 1982), but keep in mind how vast the Tokyo train system is, and the need for more computing power, more machines, etc. is apparent. To compare 1990 with 2008, I have two clips that I took - both of the same ticket gates at the East Exit of Shinjuku Station:
1990 Shinjuku East Exit Ticket Gates:
2008 Shinjuku East Exit Ticket Gates:
One comment about the 2008 clip - the guy going the wrong way is a ticket gate crasher. Many of the gates are bi-directional, but from the way he goes through and the sound, he rushed through with no ticket before the gates could close.
Tickets and cards. The system has advanced to the point where you can travel on all of the trains and most of the buses with a single type of IC card, which saves an incredible amount of time (especially time that used to be spent in line at the ticket machines).
(Note: I posted the video clips for this a while back, and I've discussed them with a few people, but I don't think I've posted any text about them - or have I?)
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon