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A Tube etiquette lesson from @tube_boob

Posted at 8:30 am, July 18, 2012 in Transport

@tube_boob is a Londoner with a love for the tube. To celebrate the great underground’s idiosyncrasies, they started tweeting at @tube_boob to capture some classic tubetastic moments and taboos. Here they tackle the thoroughly British institution of queuing…

‘London boasts the world’s first and oldest underground system. Like so much else in this country it is world-renowned, steeped in history, and with more than a few tales lurking in its foundations. It does also mean that there are constant upgrades – new technology and equipment is constantly layered on top of older ‘improvements’ – but you cannot deny its unique character.

‘Other underground systems from around the world have their own flavour. The baffling, fragmented colours, lines and shapes of the New York Subway, the romantic Art Nouveau glamour of the Paris Metro, and of course the famously efficient systems in Tokyo and Singapore. The latter are the ones we look up to in awe – so shiny! So reliable! So clean! So NEW! Usually, if the train arrives late, it’s your watch that’s wrong.

‘But another fundamental difference here is that British institution – queuing. Or the lack of it. It’s the one aspect of Britishness that the Tube has not inherited, yet Eastern Asian (especially Japanese) commuters have taken to brilliantly.

‘The Japanese queue for everything, even in extreme situations such as queuing for aid after an earthquake. And it’s always a nice, straight queue, with gaps in to let people pass through. The trains are so efficient that pushing and shoving is unnecessary, and actually doesn’t get you anywhere any faster. Also, the doors always stop in exactly the same place, avoiding that mad scramble for the nearest door that us Londoners know so well.

‘So this appears to be a cultural phenomenon. As a nation the Japanese are very polite people, and in certain situations the same could be said for the British; but maybe not when we’re late for work and there are severe signal failures…’

For more, see @tube_boob.

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