Haters to the left: Why only chumps run up tube station escalators

There are 426 Tube station escalators. Every one is a battleground between two warring tribes. Standing to the right, cool cats patiently wait for it to reach the top, perhaps while reciting beat poetry. Meanwhile on the left, spring-heeled ubermenschen clamber up the stairs as fast as they can, yodelling all the while.

Here’s why the escalator-standing tortoise ultimately wins the race, while the stair-climbing hare…dies? I can’t remember the story.

  1. The escalators are going up anyway.
  2. Most (non-fatal) accidents on the Underground happen on the escalators, not the platforms. Take it slow. Wear sensible shoes. Grip the handrail with both hands and make your peace with God.
  3. With the free wifi (until December) you have time to tweet, email or watch YouTube. Even the shortest escalator at Stratford could manage a Dramatic Gopher or two.
  4. You can appreciate the Tube’s wonderful licensed buskers: 100,000 hours of live music echo through the tunnels every year, and you’re running past with Flo Rida chuntering out your headphones.
  5. Your life is not that busy or important. Sprinting up the Tube escalator is like fitting a police siren to a pizza delivery van.
  6. Angel station has the longest escalators at 60 metres. They move at 0.75 m/s. The average person climbs stairs at around 0.6 m/s. Walking up, you are saving 36 seconds. You are not Sherpa Tenzing. You’re a sweaty mess.
  7. Life In The Fast Lane: The person in front kicks you in the forehead. The person behind stares intently at your arse.
  8. While standing, you can peruse some of the 31,000 adverts in stations across London, and plan your next West End show or gym membership. CBS Outdoor paid £1.5 billion for the contract in 2006, and TFL expected to pocket £870 million to put back into the network. The advertisers have been losing money ever since, and threatened to end the contract earlier this year. So get your eyes on those posters and your hand in your wallet.
  9. If you stay still, you can pretend you’re doing that bit in Rain Man.
  10. Seriously, the stairs move for you. What don’t you get about that?
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