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The NY Times ran an article this morning titled The New York Minute.
For some reason all NY commuter trains leave a minute behind their scheduled departure time to allow for late running commuters to catch the trains.
The article states that the conductors have the discretion to leave on time but this unwritten rule has been observed for as long as anyone can remember.
I am not sure that this is true. I commuted to NYC for years and have missed several trains by cutting it too close. It seems to me that all of these trains left exactly on schedule. In several situations the conductors saw me running down the platform and still closed the doors.
Anyway now that this article has exposed this secret I am sure that many will make the mental adjustment and think they have the extra time resulting in many more missed trains.
An unscientific survey conducted by the Times found that the trains actually left somewhere between 30 and 80 seconds after the posted departure time.
The article notes that this is an interesting departure for railroads which basically invented the concept of standard time and time zones.
The one benefit of cutting it too close was that on many days running for the train was the only exercise I did that day