A man waits for the subway at the Times Square stop in New York, December 19, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Andrew Burton)
Across the five boroughs, during the early morning hours of any given weekday, New York City trains that pull into the first stop will have a pack of at least 10 people crowding around each car door. Upon hearing the "ding" sound that cues the opening of the doors, New Yorkers make a mad dash towards the coveted corner seats. It is a blessing to have one less stranger next to you, just by sitting in the first and last seats that line the length of the train car.
No matter how many analyses NYC travelers think up in order to avoid eye contact or placing their hand on the part of the pole just coughed on by the person sitting directly underneath it, any scenario can be changed with a jerk of the train. The New Yorker posted an infographic Tuesday that further validates this point; no amount of strategies, or money, can help you determine who you interact with. This infographic, that has many New Yorkers talking, displays 21 different NYC train lines and the stops they make. Each train line has its own line graph. The x-axis represents the stops made on the train lines and these stops are also grouped into their corresponding borough. The y-axis represents "median household income" and ranges from $0 to $200,000.
The significant differences in total income across the five boroughs, for pockets of residents who live only a few blocks' distance away, is very apparent in the quick dips and piques made by the line graphs. According to The New Yorker, "if the borough of Manhattan were a country, the income gap between the richest twenty per cent and the poorest twenty per cent would be on par with countries like Sierra Leone, Namibia, and Lesotho." Despite the fact that New Yorkers believe themselves to be studied in subway social dynamics, they're rubbing shoulders with locals from every strata of society.
Though New Yorkers have a bad rep for how they interact with each other, many times NYC residents' decision to change their train seats, are not personal jabs. According to a study overseen by the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA), and as reported by The New York Times (NYT), there are other reasons for why New Yorkers make the intended move from one part of the train car to another. Locals favor corner seats because of the time they save when exiting the train without having to push through the crowd as well as the "partitions to lean against." As with most studies, some decisions people choose to make, simply cannot be explained.
The MTA suggested that males more frequently stand while supporting themselves on metal poles, "probably because New York's gentlemen live up to cultural expectations regarding giving up seats to ladies and children." Many New Yorkers are weary of this explanation. According to Ginny Zarzano, a resident of Queens, told NYT, "When I was pregnant, men tried to beat me to seats." There is no doubting the role that circumstances play in how riders of the NYC subway system choose to conduct themselves. Especially in the wake of the events in Boston, amped up security underground will play a large role in how New Yorkers interact with each other on the platforms and in the trains.