To arrive in this area there are plenty of options. This town has a well deserved reputation of having many options for public transportation, built through many decades. It is possible to reach this neighborhood by no less than four metro lines passing through six stations.

So, anyone that would like to get to this part of town has the problem of choosing how. That is where the problem starts for the non mathematically-minded, as the possible combinations between train, metros, bus, taxis, bikes and walking are huge. A work colleague that used to live in the area explained to me when I arrived the different levels of optimization available for going from point A to point B by Metro.

The basics is to know on what direction to take the trains. This is less than obvious for a newcomer, as many of the directions around here are called “Portes”, some with very similar sounding names. Travel time can be shortened further if one calculates well where to step down from the Metro, as the walking distance can be very long in some cases if you jump out on a ill-chosen point.

Then there are the connections. The third level of optimization comes with choosing the right connection point. Some lines cross each other two or three times, and choosing the right point for switching trains can add or subtract two or three stations from the travel plan. And of course, when adding the connections, there are different routes possible, so some navigation also gets into the game.

The fun really starts when you factor in the walking time inside the stations. The fourth level of expertise is related to connections: sometimes one needs to walk many minutes to switch trains, which is a slower down, specially on Saturday afternoons. So connections need to be chosen as well from the walking distance between platforms and that requires a deep knowledge of the stations, something that you have to acquire as a wanderer teenager.

My colleague was really proud of what he called the “Metro Gambit”, the ultimate level of knowledge that allows him to be always on time. The players with this skill are able determine on what part of the train we have to jump in order to walk the least when leaving the station or making a connection. Let's take an example, let's say that you come to the neighborhood from downtown using Line Nine, and want to step down close to my house. If you know the “Metro Gambit” you would sit at the first wagon on the train, this one that stops just before the escalator and requires only three minutes to reach my building. Don't do it and you get additional eight minutes of pleasant walk.

Last time I met him, he was wondering if this could be turned into a computer game. “The Metro Gambit” would make a nice name, I commented. And added that he could already have the sequels ready: “The Bus Strategy” and “The Bike Defense”.

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