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Fewer seats on the LRT

03/17/07 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri, Calgary

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2007/02/27/lrt-transit.html?ref=rss

One of the issues that's hit Calgary what with all the growth an' all is that the public transit system is overloaded. In particular, the LRT is horrible for hours around rush hour due to incredible density of usage.

I'm lucky as I have a bus ride to and from work which while crowded tends not to be so full I cannot get on. The LRT on the other hand? Egads. Recently I took it from downtown to pick up my car from the garage and got a seat near the entrance. As the train filled up the standing room reached Japanese bullet-train state where people were crushed in. It took an entire stop for me to move from where I was to near the exit -- maybe four feet -- and even then I still had to ask passengers near the door to get out so that I could squeeze through.

Thus, when I heard about the plans to reduce seating in order to make more room for standing passengers, I though "Great!" Anyone who rides the C Train at rush hour knows that the current 2x2 seating takes up far more room than is helpful and significantly impedes the ability of people to get on and off the train. The London Underground (which I rode for many years) serves a similar purpose to the C Train. It has sideways seating and by leaving a wide aisle handles heavy traffic (and light traffic) well. It was therefore with great surprise that I started reading comments like these from the CBC article:

He said the problem with fewer seats is that it will be standing room only, even when it's not busy. "The seats will be out all the time, I gather. People who travel off peak hours, like me, might not have a seat."

and

She doesn't like the thought of standing every time she takes the C-Train. She says the only solution to overcrowding is to add an additional car to the train.

The article does note that a fourth car isn't an option due to the size of platforms and city blocks. To the "I don't want to stand" all I can really say is "Poor diddums". Seriously, it's not like all the seats are gone. There are people who do need to sit -- pregnant women, people with infirmities, older people, anyone escorting small children -- and they should get the available seating but for everyone else, it's just not necessary. If you're healthy and can't stand for a half hour ride, boy, that's sad.

 

1 comment

Comment from: Nimble [Member]  

For underground transit, I can understand having fewer seats.

For Calgary Transit, the surface parts of the journey … or perhaps it’s just the vehicle and/or driver … turn standing into a full-on hazard with the screeching halts from traffic lights and other concerns.

As for me… well, I get most of the reading I ever do done on the LRT :)

Now, they could go ahead with a proposal, really. I’d like to see the practicalities of it. We can’t be the first city to run up against this. Is Ric McIver’s assertion that 50 more people could fit in a car reasonable? Is it seasonal? (e.g. were the studies done in areas where bulkier clothing is the rule in winter?) Is it with bags and backpacks, or without? How much more room is there, truly, considering where people have to stand in order to grasp something?

We do have some cars that have 2 x 2 at the ends, but sideways seating in the middle 50%. The savings in space will of course not be as much converting from this configuration.

Actually, based on just the layout of the sideways seating, you often get 3 people in the same sideways space as 4 people sideways, which seems to belie the seating complaints, but those 3 peoples’ legs intrude a lot into the corridor (sometimes just from putting belongings underneath and out of the way), and there’s a dearth of arm-level poles to grip - even I have more of a hate than a love relationship with those vinyl hoops.

c.f. A New York Subway Car of a New York subway car. How much corridor room is there?

It might be justifiable, mind you, if there’s any proof that it lets people get off the LRT more easily, because that seems to be a big problem… at the first few stops into downtown in the morning, and pretty much everywhere except the last stop or two out of downtown.

So sure, consider things like sideways seating, but they better back it up with something before we end up back at the drawing board somehow only having managed an inadequate 5-person increase in car capacity :)

03/17/07 @ 22:38
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