LONDON Underground is controversially discarding decades of tradition in a new trial at a busy station where passengers will no longer be asked to 'stand on the right' when using two escalators.
Instead, they will be invited to stand, willy-nilly, on both sides on the Central line escalators at Holborn. Previous tests, under publicised and dubious in outcome, were conducted last November and December, but, some bright spark has suggested that capacity could possibly be increased by up to 30 per cent IF everyone is stationary and allows the machinery to do the work. Quite frankly, it’s overwhelmingly ludicrous.
We Londoners are fans of slick new speakeasies and rooftop shuffle board matches, but, on one aspect of the Londoner way is an unspoken formality and ritual to our daily commute. We know which door opens where at our tube stop and how best to weave our way through the throng of other mission orientated peers. It works. We have our ways and we like them.
It is sure to been a daunting prospect, changing the habits of a lifetime and breached the boundaries that Underground users have settled into, when the six-month trial starts 18 April 2017. Transport for London, demonstrating a clear understanding of the daily turmoil that they are proposing, have assembled a crack team of the leading behavioural scientists from the London School of Economics to develop tailored and innovative messages to ease the transition, my particular favourite is the installation of ‘light’ messages that play on words about standing.
Other institution-shaking communications include using a talking projection of a staff member, electronic versions of the triangular ‘stand on the right’ signs that passengers pass as they travel up the escalator, signs on the floors, footprints on the escalator steps, handprints on the handrails and station announcements.
LU operations director Peter McNaught said: “It may not seem right that you can go quicker by standing still, but our experiments at Holborn have proved that it can be true. This new pilot will help us find out if we can influence customers to stand on both sides in the long term, using just signage and information. Anyone who wants to walk on the other escalators will be free to do so, but we hope that with record numbers using the Tube, customers will enjoy being part of this experiment to find the most efficient ways of getting around.”
Personally, I am most certainly NOT on board.