An east bound train pulls into Oakville station at 2:25pm on track 2 and not track 3, which was the track they posted for the next east bound train, at 2:28pm. The platform 3 is pretty full. There was a moment for about 5 seconds after the train stopped when things just continued as normal. But then it happened, the herd became individuals and things got interesting.
As the train pulled-up and stopped I did wonder why it was there. If that’s the train I need and I miss it, my plans are blown. If that is my train, I need to be on it so I need to move. I look up and there are people making the way to the stairs, I move with them. Decision made and action taken.
As I walk I’m looking around, most people are still standing there waiting. I drift over to the track, look back and see nothing. No train coming, not for miles anyway. I continue to the stairs and find my way to track 2.
I get on the train and take a seat where I am able to see the track 3 platform where about 10% of the people still stood.
The announcement was made that track 2 was the 2:28pm east bound train and the remaining people began to make their way over to the train. I asked one of the last people why they waited and didn’t go with the herd and she said that she was just going to assume the board was correct until they made an announcement. She was not moving until the official word was given.
There was a lot of social referencing going. The early adopters needed one person to go and that left 90% of the people still waiting standing. As time past, the chances of a 2:28pm train being on track 3 decreased and people started the move to track 2; their confidence in track 3 decreased and their confidence in track 2 increase. After a certain point, around 2:28pm everyone who was on the platform would likely remain there until they get official word. They would have let the train leave the station if it hadn’t come.
I moved because that seemed like the most probable outcome given the situation, and my confidence in that decision was boosted by other people taking the same action I committed to. But it was odd. At the moment there really wasn’t enough information to go on, just a guess based on the information that was available, the experiences I’ve had and a willingness to take a risk and leave the herd.