Thursday, February 11, 2016

Moving the Masses

I came across a couple of studies that I found particularly interesting because they rather go against the grain of popular thought.

I find escalators frustratingly slow. Why can't they be sped up? Old people can use a lift instead if they have issues. But does a faster escalator move crowds more quickly? You would think so but apparently not as a study in Moscow showed. It seems with a faster moving escalator, people leave more of a gap behind the person in front of them before they will step on to an escalator. The end result of the faster escalator test was that the same number of people were moved per hour.

The London Tube is an extraordinary beast. Within its cramped stations it moves a huge number of people quite efficiently, and although it does go wrong at times, even disruptions are generally well managed.

As an ignorant tourist, you may inadvertently do the wrong thing and stand on the left side of the escalator when using The Tube and you have made yourself a social problem to be dealt with by Londoners in various ways with a minimum of at least a filthy look. The left side is for walking, the right side is for standing, quite the opposite to here. But how to move more people up and down escalators in very busy times? An attendant with cattle prod to encourage more people to walk up and down the escalators? Only to be used on the young and fit of course. It seems the real answer is fill the escalators with people standing, leaving no room for those who like to walk. A series of trials were taken where with signage and people advising everyone to just stand on both sides of the escalator, leaving no room for walkers. The walkers, naturally, were not happy, with some becoming quite ballistic as they were stuck standing on the escalators. It is the case of a few inconvenienced for the greater good, that is clearing train platforms and stations more quickly. Will it become a permanent feature of London's Tube? Not on your nelly. Such habits are too ingrained in people although I expect it might be tolerated at the busiest stations but only with an attendant at the escalator along with some very firm signage, and of course, people will need to know why.

24 comments:

  1. How interesting. Definitely counter intuitive.

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    1. EC, that is what struck me.

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  2. Is this really an issue? I've travelled frequently on London's tube and have never thought the escalators make much of a bottleneck. Same goes for the escalators on Sydney's train network.

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    1. Victor, I think it is a problem at certain stations; Bank and Waterloo come to mind. I can't remember the escalators but about ten years ago I found overcrowding at your Town Hall Station almost panic inducing.

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    2. Yes, the platforms at Town Hall station are ancient and very narrow; that is true. Perhaps the escalators there are problem at peak times but I have never found that to be the case. Maybe I am too much of a Sydneysider to realise the panic they induce in visitors?

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    3. There is a state called......um, I forget, but it is recognised as a significant problem for people when they are unused to crowded public transport and have to or choose to use it. Maybe it was partly that. It was certainly not pleasant.

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  3. I thought pommies drive on same side of road as us (lefthand side). Therefore should stand on left side of escalators like us, no?

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    1. Allan, it does fail the logic test, for sure. Drive on the left, overtake on the right. Why not the same in London?

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  4. Interesting study about the fat moving escalators in Moscow. And the most recent trial with the tube must have really irked the walkers. Greetings!

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    1. Blogoratti, I can well imagine how annoyed London walkers must have been.

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  5. Now I know why London was so unfriendly, I was parked on the wrong side of the escalator.
    Merle..............

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    1. Haha Merle. No, London is just unfriendly full stop unless you a know a London person. Overseas travellers say Melbourne is a friendly city, but Australians from other Australian states do not. I do find people in Sydney friendlier than here.

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  6. I am in my soul a Londoner, accidentally born in the wrong country. I went "home" to London as soon as I could, living in poverty but having the best few years EVER! My beloved almost caused a divorce, insisting we go back to Australia *sad sigh*.

    But you are right. It seems the answer really is to fill the escalators with people standing, leaving no room for those who like to push (not walk). Aggressive nasties should not risk the rest of the population's physical well being.

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    1. Hels, I don't think it is being nasty to want to walk up and down escalators, especially if that is what you have always done but if there is a restriction on that, then they just have to suffer in silence.

      While I love London, would I love its grey winter skies day after day? Such short daylight in winter? I expect not.

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  7. Those who insist on walking up or down escalators should take the stairs instead.

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    1. River, the stairs are often inconveniently located and some of the escalators are very long and even if someone is walking, they are getting a lot of help too. I was at our major country/interstate station today and there were stairs as well as escalators next to each other, a good idea.

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  8. River posted exactly what I was thinking.

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    1. Cranky, River has a habit of spoiling my posts with unassailable logic, hehe.

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  9. They should have stairs for those who want to walk.

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    1. God, another one who states the bleeding obvious ;-)

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  10. I'm a walker who takes the stairs if there are stairs,so good for the derrière :) but haven't as yet had any problems being a walker on the escalator.

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  11. I had a very unusual experience a couple of weeks ago. As a sighted guide I was accompanying a young lady who is completely blind (and anxious) across London during rush hour. It involved using numerous escalators on the Underground. Having to stand beside her on the escalator meant no-one could get passed! I could feel the tension building up behind us but then had the idea of holding the white cane above our heads so that the queue of people could see why there was a hold up. No more mutterings or expletives were heard again.



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  12. The studies are interesting and there sure are lots of people that need to move from here to there. Sometimes when I am driving the freeway, in long endless lanes of cars, and see the same numbers going the other way, I think what if everyone going the other way, just stayed where they were and lived there and the same for the other direction.

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  13. Grace, I used to and I know I still should but....

    Marie, interesting. I just thought of standing behind the lady or in front and it is just not going to make her feel secure, is it. As you say, people were fine once they knew.

    Strayer, I yell at them, 'go home. Half of you don't need to be on the roads'.

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