Public transport systems in cities all around the world comes in many different shapes and sizes. However there seems to be one thing universal to them all, the locals who use them daily always think they can be better. There are systems in some cities that we would dream to have in Auckland but it doesn’t make them perfect. One of the great things about the Internet is it lets people share their ideas for improvement. In New York one designer is trying to improve things with some suggestions. Here is a description of what he is doing.
For the next 100 Days, I will propose various improvements to the New York City Subway, which in 2012 had 1.6 billion riders, and should be seen as the best subway in the country, if not the world. I’ll be exploring various ideas, from UX, Environmental, Co-Branding, Audio/Visual, and more, including potential interviews with MTA employees, all in an attempt to create discussion.
As you would expect not all of his ideas would apply to Auckland and positively a number of them have, or are being addressed already as part of electrification. He is currently up to #60 so I thought I would share my favourites so far.
This one probably doesn’t need too much explanation (although not that many stations actually have toilets – which they should have).
14. Bathroom Door Opener
So opening a bathroom door has always been a gross thing. It’s even worse in the current station bathrooms…why not just use a pedal system that can be connected to the door’s internal mechanism, to pop the door open when you’re done?
It would be nice just to have set dwell times
24. Subway Timers
One of the biggest problems the subway has are people attempting to squeeze into the car as the doors are closing. This is attributed to a number of reasons, one of them being that the riders don’t know how much time is left before the doors close, which cause them to hurry to a train, endangering themselves, fellow riders, and potentially causing time delays on the entire system.
Timers located near the doors could help alleviate this problem. Start them at 30 seconds, and countdown. At zero, doors close. This way, if someone sees the train with 5 seconds left, and they’re 20 seconds away, they’ll second guess about trying to run for the doors.
I would find this one more useful than the real time system we have now
25. Train Positions
“Ahh crap, I just missed the R train…where’s the next one? Oh, 28th street! Awesome!”
This would be far more useful than the pitiful excuse we call passenger displays currently
30. Info Panels
It’d be great to have panels streaming live data about the system and the city. Seeing the weather outside can help me prepare accordingly, seeing a live feed of the tunnels will let me know if I’ll deal with any delays, and some live entertainment can either show off local television, or display info about local businesses to help break the monotony of the trip.
We are starting to see some of these pop up but could do with more
36. Neighborhood Guides
What kind of things are in a neighborhood? Where are they? Interactive kiosks in tourist heavy areas could answer these questions, and display helpful videos about important New York landmarks, like the World Trade Center. Users could use the interactive map to find restaurants & other local businesses. A camera attached to each kiosk helps dissuade vandalism.
This one may take a bit of work but would certainly be useful during the peak periods. Of course our new trains also allow access between the carriages which should help with spreading the load.
38. Car density
It’s a real pain when you’re standing on the platform, and the car you always get on is full. So then you have to run to the next car, not knowing if it’s going to be full or not. And sometimes, you miss the train, causing even more tension & anger.
Live tracking, based on the weight of the cars, could determine this info. When you get to the platform, you can check the screen, and figure out where to stand. This results in better distribution of riders.
We have been told we are getting wifi on our new electric trains so I have left that off but this one could be useful, nothing worse than using your phone/tablet to kill some time in the process draining the battery.
47. USB Power
With newer trains, the subway will utilize the kinetic energy created by braking. USB power stations could borrow some of this energy, so that riders with low batteries can charge up for 50 cents, all by tapping your RFID Metrocard.
Another little thing that would help with directions for new users
58. System Diagrams on Platforms
Inspired by the subways in Barcalona, there should be a revised system in how the subway diagram is shown. Make it big, make it obvious. This way, travelers know where they’re going.
Those are some of my favourites, any others you think would be appropriate. Also what suggestions would you make for Auckland?