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Monday, January 17, 2011

Can our Tube commutes be brighter?

Today sees the launch of
SmileforLondon, a creative project that aims to brighten up the London Underground by showing a series of uplifting and inspiring silent films on digital platform screens across ten zone 1 stations.

The project runs until 28th January 2011 on weekday mornings and evenings during the rush hour commute. You'll see them on certain platforms at Camden, Euston, Holborn, Liverpool Street, Oxford Circus, Moorgate, Victoria, Waterloo, Paddington and Piccadilly Circus Tube stations.

Last week an urban planner, Alex Marshall, argued the case for a Conversation Car in the New York subway. He remembered the days when he used to strike up conversations with fellow commuters and hoped to revive "the dying art of conversation" as subway cars feel more like "monasteries than social spaces".

As much as I'd like my commute to be brighter, I really doubt whether this idea would work in London or New York. Can you imagine actually seeking out a Conversation Car? It's a bunfight trying to get a seat on the Tube at the best of times. Even if you're lucky enough to get on the err.. supposedly "average" Tube train, with only 122 people on it, I wonder what sort of Londoners would relish the idea of conversation with random strangers?

Or maybe not. Perhaps they'd start off by being those conversations you have with someone you're stuck in a lift with. Maybe it would be like having Twitter conversations. Perhaps eventually they'd turn into dating carriages. TfL might even be able to make an earner and sponsor the type of conversation per carriage, with "Conversation starters", getting us to talk about a particular subject.

"Quiet zone....Shh...!" by whatleydude
"Quiet zone....Shh...!" by whatleydude

Chances are none of the above would happen. I reckon we'd be more likely to see the introduction of "quiet carriages" like the Quiet Zones on some railways. Funnily enough The New York Times reported that "The quiet cars have now become some of the noisiest, as passengers trying to read or sleep are constantly hushing and shushing others."

Do you think "Conversation Cars" would work on the Tube? Do you think anything can really be done to brighten up your London Underground commute?

Hat tip to Jemimah Knight for the Conversation Car link.

; Posted by Annie Mole Monday, January 17, 2011 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon