Washington DC metro tries ways to smooth station stops
- Helping Riders Pick Up the Pace
Metro to Test New Doorway Voice, Signs to Keep Passengers Moving
By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 2, 2005; Page A01
Losing Sandy Carroll's mellow voice is the first step of several
Metro decided yesterday that it will try to smooth the flow of
humanity through the country's second-busiest subway system, behind
New York's. In a transit system bulging with a record 707,885 riders
a day, the movement of people in downtown stations is not orderly. It
is not calm. It is not pretty.
Crowds are gumming up the works. Clashing armies of commuters block
each other from reaching trains or escalators. Passengers waiting to
board rail cars smash into those trying to leave. Most horrifying to
Metro officials, these chaotic dances delay the trains.
After pondering the problems for five years, the Metro board of
directors approved several pilot projects that will start in
February, aiming to move people on and off trains and escalators with
speed, grace and, maybe, civility.
"We're trying to move as many trains through the system as we can,"
said Jim Hughes, Metro's acting assistant general manager for
operations. "Part of that is cutting the amount of time in the
stations and getting people on and off as quickly as we can."
Many train delays are caused by riders dashing into cars at the last
second. "The message and the door chime have become a little like the
yellow signal on a traffic light," Hughes said. "The purpose of the
chime is to tell people to step back, that doors are closing. But our
customers hear that, and they run to get on a train. . . . It's got
to be a different voice, something that sounds different, because
right now it's background noise."
The engineers who designed Metro counted on trains spending about 15
seconds in each station to let riders get on and off before moving
on. That worked when Metro opened in 1976, and ridership was low.
But now, trains are spending 30 seconds to 35 seconds in the busiest
downtown stations, Hughes said. Any longer, and Metro's ability to
run the maximum number of trains during the peak hour will start to
be hampered, he said. Several months ago, Hughes dispatched an
internal team of architects, engineers, station managers, train
supervisors and escalator experts to videotape the way people move
around stations and find low-cost improvements.
To help smooth the emptying and loading of trains, Metro will test
platform markers at Union Station, Gallery Place-Chinatown and Metro
Center. The markers will indicate where to line up with rail-car
doors once a train pulls into a station. The idea is to get people
ready to board before the train arrives and out of the way of exiting
passengers. Although most riders wait at the sides of the doors to
give passengers room to exit, plenty of people plant themselves
directly in front of the doors. A brazen few try to muscle their way
on while people are getting off.
The rest of the article is at this URL:
I can attest from two years' personal experience, to how often the
initial "Doors closing" message changes to "Please stand clear of the
doors", repeated over and over again for as long as a minute or more
at times, while the doors reopen then re-close, reopen and re-close,
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