Check out this transparency from Good, illustrating the size and impact of mass transit systems around the world. At first it looks pretty bad for Boston, illustrating fewer riders and less track than anyone but San Francisco.
But Boston’s a smaller city. Of course Tokyo transit serves over a billion riders a year: It’s the hub of an enormous metro area. It’s probably a better system, but how much better? How much more useful, per capita? We don’t really know, at least not from this chart. A better reflection would be annual passenger-miles charted against the population of the entire metro area.
I’m guessing Boston would still come up a little short there: We really could use a more extensive transit system, something which is pretty clearly reflected in the chart. But we might not come up as short as this chart initially suggests.