This Is How Long You Should Wait For A Train Before Giving Up

Katherine Ripley Katherine Ripley

This Is How Long You Should Wait For A Train Before Giving Up

We’ve all been in this situation: you’ve been waiting over 10 minutes for a train, there are no countdown clocks in the station, and you have no cell service, so you can’t check when the next one is coming. Should you continue to wait? Or are you going to be sitting there for the next half hour?

If you’re willing to do a lot of math, you can actually figure out the answer. But most of us probably suck at math, so luckily an engineer did all the calculations for us and wrote about it on his blog.

He concludes that you should actually give up waiting after 11 minutes. If this seems pessimistic, keep in mind that our engineer only used subway train arrival data from 7am to 7pm, so nights, when you typically have longer waits, don’t factor in.

You’re welcome to look at the calculations yourself and try to figure out the math (we certainly don’t understand it) but the basic reasoning behind waiting no more than 11 minutes is that after 11 minutes, you’re likely to be facing a significant delay.

This information is most useful if you have to catch a flight, or you have a job interview, or you absolutely have to be at work on time for an important presentation. In those situations it might be worth it to throw away the $2.75 that you spent on your swipe and pay more money for an Uber. But on every other day, we’ll probably continue to suffer through the long waits.


Cover photo credit: Jens Schott Knudsen/Flickr

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