diamond geezer

 Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tubewatch (19) Move down along the platform
The average tube platform is more than 100 metres long. More than long enough for people to spread out along when waiting for the next train. But do people spread out when they reach a tube platform? Do they hell. Most of them enter the platform and then stop, because they can't be bothered to walk any further. There's all that space, but most people don't use it. Here's a diagram to show you what I mean. The long white rectangle represents the platform, and each red dot shows the stopping place of a typical passenger.

I've based my diagram on the eastbound Central line platform at Holborn, but it could be any station anywhere. Passengers enter down the stairwell and walk onto the platform, where the great majority come to a halt bunched up within a few metres of the entrance. Some move a little further along, but far fewer head down towards the sparsely-populated ends of the platform. And a significantly greater number of people head left rather than head right. They've been lulled into a subconscious trance by their journey down the stairwell, and so continue on in the same direction rather than doubling back. Most tube passengers act like sheep, huddling together in predictable patterns rather than thinking for themselves.

Families, tourists and those carrying heavy luggage are always the most likely to stop dead in front of the entrance. Reaching the platform has been a big enough adventure for them already, so why walk any further? But platform lethargy can strike anyone at any time, even hardened commuters. It takes positive action to walk further along the platform, especially right down to the end where you might be able to board the next train more easily. It baffles me why more people don't make more of an effort. I always walk along the platform myself, always, because I like a bit of space to myself. And if the rest of you want to stay huddled around the entrance then that's fine by me, because when the train arrives it means I'm more likely to get a seat. And you may not get on at all.

Plan ahead with the Way Out tube map

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