If someone sneezes in a closed space, you hope that the area has good ventilation, because those sneeze particles are going to spread. The New York Times explains in the context of a subway train.
Wear a mask.
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Adam Pearce for The New York Times describes the sad state of affairs that is the delayed subway trains in New York. One delay causes a ripple effect down the line, leaving little chance to get back on track. The more straightforward figures gear you up for the overall view at the end.
This was for New York specifically but is applicable to other transits and forms of transportation. See also the traffic gridlock simulation from a few years ago. It doesn’t take much for gridlock.
Daniel Goddemeyer and Dominikus Baur grew interested in cell reception while on the New York subway:
In recent years, the MTA has started to equip select stations with WiFi and cell phone transmitters, but due to the remaining lack of connectivity in the tunnels, passengers rely on stray signals from surface transmitters to send or receive messages in between stations.
In a straightforward map, Jason Allen for Thrillist replaced station names on the London Tube map with median rent prices for a one-bedroom apartment in the area. I'm sure someone is working on U.S. subway maps at this very moment.
This map of subway complaints in Madrid isn't geographically relevant to me, but the encoding scheme is interesting.
Each spot represents a station, and a collection of concentric circles represent the various types of complaints for that station. Larger circles represent more complaints, and more circles represent more complaint types.
So for someone in charged of repairs, maintenance, and overall system performance could pretty quickly figure out the problem areas and what actions to take.
You're headed to the subway platform and you hear a train coming. The warm musty air that blows directly into your nostrils is near. So you speed up your steps. Oh forget it, who are you trying to impress? You run to make sure you get to the platform. Yes, you made it! You hop on with your heart rate up a few beats. Nice.
But the doors stay open.
The train isn't moving.
What gives? ARGH.
Of course, there's a perfectly logical explanation. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority provides a scenario in 8-bit format.
As we've seen, it doesn't take much to throw off the schedule of a transportation system. Sometimes the weird delay you experience is just the system trying to make things better overall. [Thanks, @reconbot]
The process to purchase a MetroCard for the New York Subway is different from the process to purchase tickets for the Bay Area Rapid Transit in San Francisco. From the flowchart above by Aaron Reiss, it's clear that it takes a lot more screen touches to get a MetroCard, but that's only part of the story. The interesting part is why the two systems' machines are so different. Different timing means different goals.