The term for riding the subway in Tokyo — tsukin jigoku — translates literally as commuter hell.
A familiar sight to any Japanese commuter is the vision of smushed faces against window glass, as uniformed attendants push men, women and children alike into the packed metro in order to keep the trains moving.
This overcrowded transportation system carries 8.7 million riders daily, making it the busiest metro in the world.
The Greater Tokyo Area has an estimated population of roughly 32.5 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area in the world.
Much of Tokyo was designed without automobiles in mind; the city's auto ownership rate only reached America's 1930s levels in the 1980s.
Instead, the residents of Tokyo rely overwhelmingly on public transportation: almost 57 per cent of all travel in Tokyo is done on trains and buses.
As a result, most metro lines are dangerously overcrowded, with some lines running at 199% capacity.
To combat this growing problem, despite the risk of greater overcrowding, Tokyo introduced women-only cars in 2005. This has been seen as a success by women, as well as men who no longer fear false accusations.
The government's goal is to cut car capacities to 150 per cent, with the aim of reducing the number of riders treated for breathing problems.
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