A Bridge

The sociology of Delhi Metro?

Below is the standard distribution of people in a metro carriage in Delhi.


As I’ve said before though, the really puzzling behaviour is when everyone tries to get on as fast as possible, shoving others out the way and not letting passengers get off first. I’ve had a number of locals try to explain this to me.

One explanation given to me is that, traditionally, trains in India didn’t stop to wait for passengers, and when they do it’s not for very long. The doors shut and the train is off and if you’re still on the platform because another hundred people were in front of you, that’s that. You have to push and shove to get on, and this has translated to the Delhi Metro system. It makes sense, but I’m not sure how such a behaviour would carry through after the first time you see that the metro is much more… forgiving?

A friend tried to give some context: because India is such an ambitious and up-and-coming place, where people really do want to better themselves and move forward, everyone wants to get on the train first, get the better seats, make sure they reach the destination. It’s a manifestation of a very positive mindset, if a slightly ruthless one.

A colleague of hers explained the same behaviour differently – the rush is not ambition to be first, its fear of being left behind. It’s not a race to the top, its a scramble to not be at the bottom.


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2 thoughts on “The sociology of Delhi Metro?

  1. Tiziano on said:

    Nice social explanation but the scheme of people distibution resembles………(same) the metro in Milano

    • happens here too getting on buses, now that im commuting to work everyday ive noticed it a lot more, people wait till the bus is almost there (and by then you know who should rightfully get on the bus first according to where theyve been standing all this time) and then when it gets there they push and shove and crowd to the front despite there easily being space for all.

      now of course being british they dont actually overtake each other because that wouldnt be proper but they do push you and shove you and generally crush the mass for no reason.

      interestingly most of the people at my work bus stop are indian

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