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Big solutions are not always best

This great video from Santiago shows that when dealing with issues the best solution doesn’t always have to be something massive and expensive but that sometimes quick, cheap and often counter-intuitive solutions can solve the problem.

It’s pretty impressive that blocking people a single gate on one platform (along with a┬áperson to operate it)┬ácan improve the passenger capacity of a station by 15% and enable increased train frequencies. At least in the near term, the place where we might needs to start getting serious how we move people on PT will on the buses. Perhaps a flow system where passengers embark by the front door and alight only by the back door might be required and it was one of the things suggested by a few different people in our recent ideas competition.

My guess the biggest barrier too many of these types of solutions is not always so much a technical one but political/public perception one.

10 comments to Big solutions are not always best

  • This works because the gate educates people about how people flow through the station and which car they need to be on for which staircase. Other systems have done similar things just with signage. That may not be possible here because the station is small for the number of people who use it.

  • Nick R

    I’ve wondered if we could do board at the front door and exit at the rear door only on our buses. Could make things flow a lot better, and the driver can observe boarders to make sure they are tagging on (whether they tag off or not is their own concern). I guess the issue would be having rear doors that are wide enough for everyone to get off on, including those in wheelchairs or with prams or luggage. Might be some operational issues too.

    • I think the current situation works fairly well, people judge which door is quicker and go to that. Forcing all exists to be via the rear door will not work very well in some situations

      1. When the bus has people standing, somebody at the front of the bus will have to push though many people to get to the back door.

      2. Many stops have few or know people getting on the bus, in these cases exits are twice as fast when both doors can be used.

      However:

      I do notice that peopel are very attracted towards the nearest door (and what direction they are goign after they exit), so at stops where are large number are getting off it is common for about 1/4 of the bus to go to the front door and 3/4 to exit via the rear one, even though some of those in front of the rear door would get off faster via the front door.

      • Luke C

        Don’t need to force people to use the back door to exit, some friendly signs will help people remember to be courteous and generally use the back door if practicable. Maybe even suggesting this helps the bus run on time would help too.

    • Mike

      Nick R: European systems do exactly the opposite on buses and trams, allowing boarding and alighting at any door, just like on trains. It works very well, reducing dwell times, with a proof-of payment ticketing system and little or no on-board sales, again just like trains, which should be an aim of the AT Hop card.

      • Nick R

        European buses and especially trams do have multiple double doors however, much like trains, and the ones I’ve used tend to have wider aisles and more standing and ciculation space. Our buses are a little different in that the front doors are often so narrow that only one person can move through in either direction while the back doors are always single file single direction. Take the City Link as an example, when it stops you must wait for every person to get completely off the bus first, then you can start moving through the front door to get on. Try it to early and all you can do is back out again. Getting some proper transit buses is probably the big solution, but with the single file doors and aisles we have a one way system might be an easy place to get some immediate gains.

        I agree with Simon it makes less sense when you have very peaky services to use both simultaneously, on peak runs or at terminii you are all either getting on or getting off but not both at the same time. Bit of a different story at the middle of a busy inner route however, again like the City Link, when you can end up with many people getting on and off at the same time all trying to get in and out the same narrow door, as per the Santiago situation.

  • Owen Thompson

    It is commonsense to only exit a bus at the rear. The front is for entry and if someone tries to exit they only hold others up.

  • Phil

    Dont assume everything in Europe is better. Plenty of the trains in the UK require you to manually open a window, stick your hand through the open window frame, and manually open the door using a car like handle…. hardly quick or efficient,
    Buses in Italy require you to buy a ticket from a tobacconist, not always located anywhere near a bus stop.

    • Nick R

      I don’t think anyone is referring to Britain when they cite European systems, more like Germany, Switzerland and the low countries.

      Yes I’ve experience the prepay system in Italy (same as Melbourne as it is), a bit of an inconvenience for the casual user but it does greatly speed up boarding dwell times and makes everyone’s trip faster and more reliable.

      I’d like to see much the same thing here where everything was based on HOP cards with only a few relatively expensive fare products available on board as a last resort.

      • Luke Christensen

        Once we have a much more streamlined CBD bus network would be great to see HOP only buses in the CBD, with ticket machines at all the stops.
        Machines could also sell $10-$15 daily PT passes on HOP type cards for the central zone.
        I like the London system where Oyster cards are easily refundable, bought an Oyster card even when I was there for a day and a half, got the 5 pounds deposit and the leftover money on it down to the last pence when I left at St Pancras.

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