Design Patterns for Modern Life

Optimal strategies for a better life


Monday, March 27, 2006

Can deliberately sending tourists in the wrong direction be good for them?

London Undergound's Waterloo and City line will close for six months on Saturday. Suddenly the fact that I'm working long term in Ipswich doesn't seem so bad.

The attentive reader will notice the bizarre route advice given in the advisory I linked to. It says:

"At Waterloo, you can take the Bakerloo or Northern lines to Embankment and then any eastbound District or Circle line to Monument. The reverse of this route can be taken for return journeys."


From a rational commuter's perspective, this is quite clearly insane; the Northern to London Bridge to get the Jubilee is clearly a quicker route. However, it is also congested. Were all Waterloo and City line passengers to move wholesale onto that route, I suspect civilisation would break down and there would be dried-fruit-fights in the catacombs (search for "Cranberry").

So, by sending some people out of their way, a greater good is achieved.

Just make sure you're not the loser who takes the longer route... go to London Bridge!!

2 Comments:

At 4:04 pm, Anonymous Henry said...

I would suggest that your opinion stems from your apparent appetite for risk in transport decisions. TFL reports the following:

A: 12 mins Monument to Waterloo via Embankment (8/3/1 train/change/train)

B: 12 mins Bank to Waterloo via London Bridge (2/7/3)

You like option B because it has the greatest chance of being - in actuality - quicker owing to getting lucky with connections, running a bit at London Bridge, etc, etc. Option A, however, has the following advantages of expectation reliability:

- The Westbound subsurface line trains from Monument are very frequent
- you can generally get a seat
- At no point are you forced to use the Northern Line Of Doom

Essentially, it'll never be shorter than 12 minutes, but it will seldom be much longer.

Widening the point further, who needs to be told the best way to go Bank/Monument-Waterloo, and what should these different users do?

1. Commuters who work near Bank or Monument. They travel there every day, they know what to do already.

2. Eastbound District/Circle line users, Eastbound central line users, Northbound Northern Line users wouldn't change at Monument/Bank because it'd be madness (I was tempted to say "Barking", but that might confuse the issue).

3. Westbound District/circle line users might change at Monument and so benefit from the advice to use option A: they can stay happily in their seats all the way to Embankment.

4. Westbound Central line users:
- Liverpool St/Bethnal Green/Mile End: best bet is Central Line and Northern Line changing at TCR.
- Stratford (and further west) Central and Jubilee via Stratford.
i.e., neither Option A nor Option B.

5. DLR users: it's a very easy change DLR-subservice (even you will admit). I claim that suggesting DLR users take Option A is sensible, particularly as those trendy dockland types might be scared by such a long time in the deep level tubes required for Option B. Agree that for these users, both routes make some kind of sense.

6. Southbound Northern line users: Aha, a user group who unequivocally benefit from Option B. People from Kings Cross upwards wouldn't change at Bank to W&C, however.


Looking at Waterloo, where do people need to go? Clearly (1) to the mainline station, (2) South Bank and environs (3) the international station. (1) and (2) are both easier from the Northern/Bakerloo platforms (ya, ya, escalators, whatever, keep to the point). Only (3) is easier from the Jubilee line.


So, in summary, I salute your concern for people travelling from Angel, Old Street or Moorgate to Paris or Brussels (weekdays only): they should, indeed, follow your advice and change at London Bridge.

 
At 10:11 pm, Blogger Richard Brown said...

I thank you for your careful analysis.

On your figures, you may have a point. The interchange at Embankment is certainly quicker than that at London Bridge.

Furthermore, it is an interchange with the valuable property that, should the last Underground train of your trip fail to materialise, you can enjoy a pleasant walk to Waterloo instead.

However, I don't believe the journey time figures provided.... they just don't coincide with my memory. Perhaps the District Line isn't slow but just feels it.

 

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