Have you ever squeezed on to the Tube in the morning and got a sense of déjà vu? If you look up from your phone and into the dead-eyed faces of the other commuters, don't some of them seem... a little familiar? That might be because in a city of eight million people, some of them are the same people day in, day out.
And brilliantly, you can now measure this. The Mayor's office has today published a fun new tool on its website that lets see you just how many people have the same commute as you. All you have to do is go here, and enter the station you start at, and the station you end at - and it'll tell you how many people, in an average day, do exactly the same journey.
For example, if you commute from Finsbury Park to Holborn, the site reveals that 995 Londoners do the same journey every day. Some combinations of stations, despite London's enormous population, see fewer than ten people make that specific journey on a given day. For example, fewer than ten people a day go from Chesham to Barking. Probably because they're not insane.
TfL has also compiled a list of the top ten tube journeys on an average day:
As we're nerds, we asked TfL how the figures were calculated: apparently, they are based on average weekday data from November last year, but with data adjusted to account for unusual circumstances, such as industrial action and long term closures. More broadly, the data is based on TfL's "Rolling O&D Survey" (RODS), which the organisation routinely carries out to figure out who is actually using the tube.
Lastly, there's the question of why TfL is doing it. It turns out that the organisation wasn't just having fun mashing around data (that's our job), but have created the tool to promote the "Smart London Plan" and associated survey.
London’s Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, explained more in a canned quote, saying: “This is a fun tool created to help Londoners think about how their data can be used to improve our capital. We hope that by surprising tube passengers with the number of people who do their exact journey every day, we will encourage people to help shape our new approach to technologies of the future. It’s all part of our work that puts digital innovation at the heart of making London a better city.”
So go have a play.