metro: what’s your number?

Sleep Number Bed I don’t mean your sleep number, or WMATA’s information number, or even the digits of that hottie you see everyday who doesn’t even take any notice of you, but the optimal number of minutes to your next train.

Mine, in most stations, is 4 minutes1. Usually just enough time to walk through the faregate, down the escalator and make it to my chosen spot on the platform. And most importantly, enough time to not have to run. My biggest issue is the placement of the PIDS. I appreciate that if they were outside the station, they’d get damaged by weather and/or vandalism, but I always struggle with whether I should “fast walk” heading into the station to see when the next train is and if I need to break into a run or not.

WMATA PID display

And based on my observations of others at non-rush hour times, I’m not alone. If I’m reading or listening to something good, I don’t mind waiting another 6-10 minutes for the next train, but when it’s just 1-2 minutes away, there’s always that inner voice saying “Go on, run, you don’t want to be standing around with these yahoos for another 15 minutes, do you?” Sometimes I’ll even sacrifice grabbing my usual car just to catch a train, then often immediately regret it when I get to my destination. However, seeing new faces is always nice.

Of course, the degree of difficulty is slightly easier for me on workdays because I live and work very close to stations. I can monitor incoming trains from my couch (or desk) and walk over to the station–except for those times when WMATA lies, which are often. But it’s still nice, those moments when I’ve timed everything more or less perfectly and can casually saunter into the station.

Seriously though, I pray to the deities of public transit that I can just have 4 minutes to slap down my farecard and get to the train. So what’s your number?

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1 Response

  1. Kris says:

    These kinds of signs weren’t widespread in New York when I lived there, but when I did see them, my number was consistently “I want the train RIGHT NOW”. So zero?

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