A Better Way to Exit a Crowded SEPTA Train

Fume no more, commuters. We've got you covered.

We’ve all been there: crowded Regional Rail train, morning rush, and everyone’s getting off in Center City. The de-boarding process can be a hot mess. Why? People in the aisle try to be polite and let seated passengers squeeze into the queue, gumming up the works.

What if we told you there’s a better way? We had a hunch that if all aisle-standers exited first and seated passengers simply filled in behind, everything would move much more quickly. To test our hypothesis, we rang up Jason Steffen — an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at UNLV who notably developed a method (the Steffen method!) for efficiently boarding airplanes. Guess what? He thinks we’re onto something, noting that as soon as someone stops and prevents the steady flow of people moving out the doors, efficiency drops off. A better way to ensure that flow? Populate the line from the back of the car.

Note: If the train is particularly packed and the aisle is filled with people who aren’t exiting, they should file out with the exiting passengers and then reenter the train once the aisle is clear. (Relax; it’s what we already do instinctually on elevators and subways.)

Published as “Charticle: How to Exit a Crowded SEPTA Train” in the October 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.