Technology is transforming urban transport networks. For example Metro railway lines around the world are seeing unprecedented levels of service, typically allowing trains to run 100s apart. Main line railways are rapidly increasing the use of automation and high performance trains to squeeze capacity out of the network. But I worry that there’s a catch.
Dwelling in the future!
As more trains, buses and trams, arrive more often at stations or stops, capacity is constrained by how quickly passengers can get on and off – something we call ‘dwell time’. Think about what’s involved. A train, tram, bus arrives and comes to a stop. The doors open. Everyone who wants to get off has to make their way to the door, get through it, and find their way through all the people waiting to get on. Assuming that the usual almighty clash of humanity doesn’t occur, those getting on then have find somewhere to sit or stand, hopefully being safely installed before the train accelerates away.
How fast can you move?
Many of the population experience some form of limited mobility though and can’t get on and off quickly or move around easily. This can be because of anything from vision problems through to using wheelchairs. Many also find it difficult to travel in crowded, confined spaces. Equality, diversity and inclusion are increasingly important to many of us, and yet we’re in danger of developing systems that limit accessibility. Technology, and particularly information, has a role to play in supporting those who need help, identifying less crowded coaches or buses, suggesting alternative routes, getting staff to the right place at the right time. Behaviour also has a major role to play, with everyone recognising the needs of others, perhaps giving up seats to the less mobile, standing back from an arriving train or offering help.
Technology – and manners
Without the application of technology, and a good dose of common sense combined with good manners, our smart cities of the future will only be for the fittest.
The Evening Standard: “15,000 back petition against Thameslink guidance which ‘discriminates against disabled rail passengers’”
Siemens UK Mobility