Is it just me or are people getting up earlier these days?
Over the past year I have been working on a project which has involved a slightly longer journey than usual so I’ve often been on the road or the train before 7pm and sometimes before 6.30.
When I commuted into the City regularly I often used to be up and about at this time because I used to go to the gym before work. I stopped doing that about five years ago and, until last year, I hadn’t been travelling that early on a regular basis since.
From memory, when I used to walk or drive to the tube station before 6.30, I did so along near-deserted roads. Turning up at the station any time before 7.00 pretty much guaranteed you a seat on the tube.
Not so now. Even at this ungodly hour, the trains and buses are full of people and there is a lot more traffic on the road. A couple of months ago I went to York on business and had to get an early train from Kings Cross. I got on a Piccadilly Line train at 6.10am and got the last seat in an already crowded carriage. Ten past six in the sodding morning for God’s sake! Where the hell was everybody going?
All this is only anecdotal but it is based on a year’s consistent observation. I asked a friend of mine who works for an investment bank, and who, like me, has been in London since the late 80s, and he had noticed the same thing. Both of us reckon that, compared to a decade or so ago, more people are staring work earlier in the morning.
I have tried to find some data to back up my observations but have drawn a blank so far. Presumably Transport for London have data on road and rail use at certain times of the day but it’s not readily available.
If I’m right, though, what might be the cause of this trend towards early rising? One friend of mine suggested that Eastern Europeans tend to get up earlier than British people and that the increase in their numbers has brought more people onto the trains earlier in the day.
More likely, though, people are getting into work earlier for the same reason that they are taking fewer sick days. They are scared of losing their jobs. Getting into work early makes you look keen. It also means you can catch up on any gossip and rumours before your boss gets in.
I would be interested to know if anyone else has noticed this and especially keen to hear from anyone who has any data to back up, or even completely refute, my hunch.
Answers in the usual place please.