It sounds like commuters are much the same all over: Dubner asks why not walk 200 yards to a bus stop up the route to raise your chance of sitting down? For my own part, why not walk ten minutes across the park rather than going to the crowded mainline station?
My guess is that a number of factors conspire:
- most people seem to exist in bubbles with very little sense of what is going on around them. This is most obvious in the regular bumps, swerves and knocks that people take from other people while walking the streets. If you look even three feet ahead and apply some simple trajectory calculations you can usually avoid these.
- People who are on their second mode of transport are far less likely to walk in between modes. Is this laziness or frustration? Maybe it is just that they are in “travel mode” and have turned off some critical faculties to get through the stressful situation they are in.
- Common sense and the herd instinct prompt us to assume that if there are a lot of people standing there, they probably know what they are doing. “I mean, if there was an easier way, wouldn’t they all be doing it?” It takes a bit of work to challenge the herd rather than to follow it.