Large cities in Europe, North America and Japan built their basic urban rail network before WWII when motor transport was not as common as today. By contrast, most Asian cities could not afford to build urban railways in prewar days and it was not easy for them to build railways after the widespread use of motor transport started.
Nevertheless, many Asian cities have made a good progress in recent decades. Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore are proud of their subways. Shanghai, Beijing and Taipei are following suit. Manila, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur have also started urban rail services. Jakarta has improved the national railway's suburban services.
Regrettably, however, some cities are building a combination of totally incompatible systems in a not-so-large city area. Incompatibility of systems not only results in inconvenience for passengers, but also diminishes operation efficiency. Far-sighted planners, managers and engineers are needed to develop better urban networks.