The frustrations that accompany using public transportation are matched only by the frustrations that come with walking, cycling, driving, or taking taxis/Uber/etc. Still, when you travel under your own power, the world feels a little less inexplicable–but understanding what the friggin’ problem is when you’re waiting for a subway train that refuses to show up is something that any public transportation rider has had difficulty with.
The MTA feels your pain, and they’ve opted for one of the simpler ways to explain the forces at work in subway delays: namely, 8-bit computer animation. In a new video called “A Subway Delay Story” the MTA created for YouTube, the things that trip up the system get explained clearly and simply. Good service, the video explains, involves even spacing between trains and regular dwell times. When somebody gets sick on a train, and the train is held in the station, that train and all of the trains behind it get held up, which creates a backlog of passengers, which means that picking up passengers takes longer and longer, which slows everything down, which creates a larger backlog of passengers, and on and on until you have been standing at the stop for 20 minutes and you can’t focus on that podcast you’re listening to anymore because you’re seething with white-hot impotent rage. And while all of this tends to make sense when explained like this, in boring text, it’s much more clear when visually diagrammed in a form as user-friendly and intuitive as 8-bit video. Although it does serve to remind us how much more fun and efficient it would be to travel by Chocobo.