Mind the Gap

April 25, 2018

There are different grades of privacy inside a subway car. If standing, you have many options of various pockets to be in, while sitting there is not more than one constellation of seating to choose between. Similar to booths, Stockholm’s subway has groups of seating that consists of 4 seats that goes along the entire car. In contrast to the local buses where almost all the seated passengers are looking forward, in the direction of travel and therefore see the backs of your fellow travellers heads. A more open situation takes place in the subway where people are facing each other and blend into a temporary group as they travel in the underground. A popular expression is a four, which refers to a group of 4 seats that form a square. When a group of friends enters the subway and are looking for a suitable place to sit someone could say, “There is a four”. In this four all kinds of interactions and dramas take place, talking, listening, silence. Sometimes resting. The contrast of the early morning train that departs from a end station with a quiet atmosphere that starts to fill up as it passes station after station, soon it is all dense and packed but the boundaries within the four is still intact until someone leaves their seat.

As the city grows in population the four could be threatened for the sake of efficiency. The doors open and after allowing space for those who get off the train, commuters flow inside like liquid. If the squared shaped four would be replaced with two parallel lines of seats along the interior walls, many more standing commuters would fit in the train and the four will be gone. And with the four gone the subway will be even more anonymous.


Zakarias Samad

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