It all ends with Euston: The Northern Line seat-to-point correlation

When your main form of transport is by Tube, don’t think that closer necessarily equals better

This occurred to me as I squeezed myself between door and other commuters on my way home last night (see fabulously scientific and precise graph, absolutely in no way cobbled together in MS Paint. Obviously).

In any case, when I move to a totally different part of London in the next few months, my situation will change dramatically. For the purposes of this blogpost, all you need to know is that I’ll go back to living ‘at the end of a line’ (having already done so for 2 years before moving to where I am currently), and, while being virtually guaranteed a seat in such situations due to my travelling SO FAR AWAY, the fact that it takes so long may mean it’s only marginally worth it – however, as the graphs shows, there are downsides to being closer, too. Sigh.

I should also point out here that the desire to get a seat is not merely a primeval urge on my part to hoof fellow commuters out the way and sink into the not-so-comfortable space with a short-lived sense of smug satisfaction at being the Seat Queen – it’s also because you can only really ‘do stuff’ on the Tube when you’re in a seat, be it have a nice little snooze, get in to a good book, make notes, have a proper think, etc. Londoners may be experts at using the Tube, and yes, while I can do all those aforementioned things while standing, often without even needing to hold on to a pole (‘Advanced Tube Surfing’, if you will), the sweet glow of dropping into a perfectly vacated, fairly-and-squarely-and-politely obtained seat when you still have enough stops left to go to make it worthwhile is near priceless at the end of a long day when you live at the end of the line (or a few stops prior).

And then, there’s NOT living at the end of the line. Closer, yes, but, as the graph shows, the ‘free seats’ to ‘point of trying to get it’ law makes this less viable than you might otherwise believe.

Basically, you get really, really good at standing up – which is mitigated only slightly if, by some wonderful chance, you’ve bagged the neat little space next to the door on the side you need to get off from, in which you can nestle and even book-read without obviously being in anyone’s way, and casually slip out of on to your home platform without so much as brushing past another passenger. And, because you can lean on to the partition glass inside, you don’t even need to hold on to a pole, or make awkward non-eye-contact with your fellow travellers. Genius.

Downsides include not being in prime position to nab a seat should one become empty (as everyone knows, this is located in the seat aisles, in everyone’s way to the point where, when seat-sitters jump up to leave, it’s almost as if you’re doing everyone a FAVOUR by falling to the now-empty seat.)

But, well, as the graph above demonstrates, for my current commute, it’s hardly worth it.

Bascially, my friends, it all ends with Euston.

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