If you’ve only ever had smooth journeys on the London Underground, you’re probably either (a) lying or (b) someone who works from home or in a city other than London.
Even when your commute goes smoothly, you’ll probably find yourself standing on the way to work or on the way back – sometimes even both. That’s just one of those things you can’t avoid in a city the size of London.
Getting a seat is sometimes less of a priority than making sure the rest of the journey is relatively painless, not that commuters should always settle for that considering the cost of their travel, but that could soon be set to change.
According to the Evening Standard, Microsoft is working on a project that could look at people traffic and figure out where you need to stand on the platform to increase your chances of resting your legs once the train arrives.
It hopes to look at data from sensors of trains and platform floors, plus additional info from commuters’ smartphones, to make the calculations, and has filed an EU patent application for a “mass transit computing system”.
That means, in practical terms, using this data to help determine how many people are in each carriage, whether they are sitting or standing, and so on.
Furthermore, the project might also incorporate bus stops: if you’re taking an unfamiliar route, or if there’s a tube or train strike, finding a less busy bus stop away from the rest of the commuters could be a godsend.
Similarly, if the “route determination logic” (as Microsoft calls it) figures out that the next three buses on a certain route are too full to stop, it can recommend another stop which – while a few minutes’ walk away – would still save you time (and frustration) overall.
Of course, there are certain times of day when you’ll be lucky to ever get a seat on a tube train, but Microsoft’s plan would at the very least help you deal with unexpected hold-ups like sporting events or gigs which might impact your journey.
For example, if a London football club has a midweek home game, it might suggest alternative routes so you don’t find your usual train home packed with fans on their way to the match.
There’s no timeframe as yet for the technology to come into force, but it sounds a lot like something a lot of Londoners could benefit from.
For the time being, though, here are some more tube hacks which everyone could do with taking a look at.