Managing overcrowding on trains
With the release today of the MP’s report declaring that overcrowding on trains will only get worse attention will surely turn to how design and human behaviour can help.
On the BBC website today one expert declares that it is all about creating and maintaining flow. This may well be true but it seems to us to deny many of the basic motivations that govern human behaviour in this situation – in an overcrowded train, with potentially a long journey ahead, you want a seat or at least a good place to stand. Mass transit is a de-personalised experience – as evidenced everyday by the impersonal behaviour that everyone exhibits on the Tube. So selfish acts become easier and everyone wants to be first never mind keeping the “flow”.
So the real need seems to be to look at how design can address the challenge but accepting the way that people will behave. Obviously the easy solution is to avoid the overcrowding in the first place but there seems to be limited appetite to spend enough to increase capacity as the MPs highlighted. So can you change the design of the doors or the vestibule area? Can you change the way the passengers are managed at the station and on the platform?
At CCD we have certainly worked on station and rolling stock projects that have attempted to address some of these issues. Projects that have sought to understand the human behavior better, or where we have worked with the designers and engineers to improve the interior of the carriage. All of these projects have been successful but it seems that the challenges are only increasing and perhaps now is the time for more innovative thinking.