Monday, February 27, 2012

Crush Hour

Last week, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time--namely, Metro Center, which is the busy interchange between the heavily travelled Red Line and the horribly packed Orange/Blue lines, at 5 PM. I was waiting at the lower platform with crowds of other weary commuters for a Blue Line train, and like any proper tea-sipping gentleman I stood at the side of the door to wait for passengers to detrain before flooding onto the train. Being a particularly crowded train, it took a while for the deluge of commuters to get off the train. In fact, the warning bell--indicating the doors were about to close--went off a couple times while passengers were still getting off. Now, two things could happen next:

1) The train's driver, being a humane, intelligent and competent human being, would notice that the train hasn't unloaded all of its passengers yet, and would wait an additional thirty seconds to let them all off and perhaps even allow some platform-waiting commuters to get on the train. This way, the on-train passengers wouldn't have to miss their stop and double back at the next stop, and the emptier train cars could pick up some of the amassing passengers from the platform, enabling the usual rush-hour overtaxing of the system to be abated somewhat.


2) The train's driver could slam the doors shut before all the passengers could get off the train, forcing a certain tea-sipping gentleman to instinctively jam his arm into the closing doors in a vain attempt to keep the doors open and giving him a rather difficult time freeing his appendage from a train that was now in motion.

So after freeing my bruised arm, I could not help but wonder what perverse incentive made the Metro driver decide that it is better to force dozens of passengers to double back and dozens more to wait even longer at the platform, all to save perhaps an extra minute. Do they get bonuses if they finish their route early?

If so, how about this bonus system:

Bonus = Minutes Early - passengers injured on route + number of witty statements to passengers on intercom, such as calling "Shady Grove" something like "Sketchy Grove"

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