Five further things we’ve discovered about the way people use the London Underground

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
August 21, 2017, 8:12 AM GMT+0

From platform positioning to which Tube line is the best, YouGov explores Londoners’ Underground habits

Alongside our recent survey on the most annoying behaviours on the London Underground, YouGov used our London Omnibus to explore a host of other Tube habits. Here are five things we found.

1. The sound of the preferably silence

As most Londoners know, communicating with others on the Underground seemingly breaches an unwritten rule. Given the choice, the majority of Londoners (55%) would rather people did not try and talk to them on the Tube – more than twice as many as those who would appreciate someone trying to strike up a conversation (23%). Women are more likely than men to want to be left alone (59% vs 50%).

2. Escalators: walk or wait?

London Underground recently scrapped attempts to make some escalators standing-only meaning that the traditional escalator choice facing commuters remains – walk up on the left-hand-side or stand and wait on the right. Four in ten (40%) Tube-users say they are generally more likely to stand on the escalators, compared to 32% who are generally more likely to walk up or down them. A further 26% are free spirits, and say they about as likely to do one as the other.

Escalator etiquette shows a clear generational divide. Approaching two thirds (64%) of 65+ year olds generally stand on escalators, compared to just 27% of 18-24 year olds. Older people’s preference to stand helps explain why standing on the left on escalators ranks surprisingly low down on the list of top Tube annoyances: older people were less likely to say they find people standing on the left less annoying than younger people did.

3. Platform positioning

It is a common sight to see commuters bunching together at specific points along a platform and then squeezing on to an over-crowded carriage instead of spreading out and getting a seat in a nearly empty one. The reason they do it is to make sure they are best positioned for the exit point of their eventual destination. Our results show that the majority of Tube-users (53%) do this. A further quarter (24%) move to the ends of the platform in an attempt to take advantage of the quieter carriages, while small minorities deliberately move to the centre (7%) or just loiter at the entry point to the platform (6%).

4. Tube time: five minutes is a long wait on the Underground

How long is too long to wait for a train? Around two thirds (66%) of London Underground users think that five minutes is a long time to have to hang around on a platform. In fact, more than half of this group are more stringent still, with one in six (17%) Tube users thinking that four minutes is too long to have to wait, and one in eight (13%) being irked if they have to wait for three minutes.

5. Finally settled: the best and worst Tube lines

The best and worse Tube Lines have frequently been a subject of heated contention among Londoners. YouGov is now able to officially crown the Jubilee Line as the best on the Tube network, with 51% of those who use the line saying that they like it, compared to only 6% who say they do not.

The DLR comes in a very close second, with 50% of users saying that they liked the line and only 6% disliking it. (For those of you who don’t consider the DLR or London Overground to be part of the Tube network, the spiritual second place goes to the Victoria Line at 46% like vs 7% dislike).

In news that will surprise few Londoners, the Central and Northern lines are the least-liked. Nevertheless, people who have used these lines were still more likely to say that they liked them than disliked them: 29% say they like the Central line compared to 23% who dislike it, compared to the 28% who like the Northern line and 22% who dislike it.

Photo: Getty Images

See the full results here

Find out more about the YouGov London Omnibus