Shaunacy Ferro of Fast Company magazine writes about the addition of countdown clocks near subway stations in Boston:
From a design standpoint, though, it makes sense that these clocks would boost business (especially in places where transit options don't zoom by every few minutes.) Commuters who are normally too anxious about missing a train may be unwilling to risk their commute for a donut. Put a visible sign up that tells riders they have 15 minutes before a train departs, and they're more willing to slow down and stand in line for five minutes at Dunkin' Donuts. Good for the customer, good for the business. Maybe not great for our waistlines.
I like her point - especially in places where transit options don't zoom by every few minutes. For any of us who've taken the bus, or attempted to take the bus (or train) before, you know that the most frustrating aspect is simply not knowing how long you'll be standing there waiting. Simple improvements like this and smartphone apps can do a world of good to improve the actual human experience. Couple it with access to a decent cafe or coffee shop (where a couple bucks could be spent by transit users) and you've got the beginnings of something that can appeal to middle-class consumers.