Idea of the Day: Pre-walking

28 Feb

For all of its advantages, transit doesn’t offer much in the way of shortcuts. A missed train is a missed train and there’s no shortening the time that you’ll spend watching the arrival board cycle through the Zipcar and Picadilly ads until the next one pulls in. But after taking the same trains at the same stations for a while,  some riders develop a menu of minute-shaving strategies known as pre-walking.


Pre-walking involves standing at a certain place on the platform in order to board a specific car through a specific door when the train arrives. The chosen boarding point is usually one that puts the rider as close as possible to a preferred exit at the destination. These strategies aren’t always about finding the exit closest to the street or building you want. Sometimes it’s faster to go out of  your way so fewer people are in your way.


Some examples:

  • The last door of the last car on a southbound train puts you closest to the less-crowded escalator at the north end of the platform (or maybe it just seems less crowded when you’re the first person to get to it) when arriving at Five Points.
  •  The last door of the last car on a North Springs train puts you right at the exit at the south end of the platform at Buckhead Station – especially important since it’s still the only exit. Also, if you’re running late for the 110 bus, not having to walk the entire length of the station to get out can easily make the difference between catching it and either having to wait for the next one or walk to your destination.
  • The back of the first car or the front of the last car on a train in either direction is closest to to an exit at Civic Center Station.
  • The middle or last door of the last car of a Indian Creek train puts you right at the stairs on the west end of the platform at Inman Park-Reynoldstown Station. Oddly, that set of stairs is much less popular than the set at the east end of the platform, which is farther away from the exit.

To read about it, you might get the idea that pre-walking is some esoteric, expert-level transit users’ skill. Phrases like “super-secret” and “something only New Yorkers know” crop up a lot.  A bit of impatience or a tendency toward tardiness are really the only requirements, though. Besides, nothing’s a secret any more once there are apps and charts for it.

 H/T to The Atlantic Cities


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