Posts Tagged: Subways



In The Dark, Underground (Emotional Transit Planning)

I’m fond of subways, but I don’t like riding them. They’re fast and efficient and they make a statement. They’re also ridiculously expensive. But that’s not the point. The point is this:

What is the psychological impact of traveling to and from work every day underground, in the dark?

In my own life, if I have the chance to stay above ground instead of using the subway, I do so. I’d rather look at the world passing me by even if it means a few minutes longer commute. It’s more pleasant and that’s important. It makes me feel good to see the sun, people and buildings rather than simply the armpit of some guy in front of me.

In Toronto, when the subway bursts out from underground for a precious few minutes on the Bloor Street Viaduct you can feel a certain relief within the subway which only collapses back on itself the moment it plunges back underground.

So again, what is the psychological impact of commuting underground? I know of no study that asks that question and I doubt our current transit planning regimes would even consider it remotely important. But shouldn’t they? Shouldn’t it be important?

Economists are quickly learning a similar thing. A new branch of the discipline called Behavioral Economics is teaching policy-makers that humans make most economic decisions based on emotion and psychology not the cold, hard reality of logic and rationalism that standard economics takes for granted.

Shouldn’t the way transit makes you feel factor into your equations and models? Wouldn’t more people ride your transit lines if they actually enjoyed it? How about it?

Emotional Transit Planning anyone?

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