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voony

It is interesting that in the meantimes, Washington D.C. is exploring the implementation of a streetcar network considered as a "premium service" where the frequency seems not considered:
http://voony.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/building-a-streetcar-mythology/

Peter Parker

Jarrett, a great article.

However I found the first paragraph (about holding the elevator) inconsistent with the theme about frequency and wider issues of efficiency.

For I regard the elevator as a form of public transport. Although it combines the unusual feature of being both frequent and demand responsive.

It the elevator ran only hourly then holding it is (on balance) a good thing. Those on it would be delayed only a few seconds while the person getting on would save a 59 min wait - so a net time saving.

Whereas in real life the elevator is as frequent (if not more so) than a metro. So the same principles should apply. Metros should not wait for people coming down the steps otherwise they would never depart. They can catch the next service, which arrives in a couple of minutes (ie little time penalty).

In this frequent service model, waiting for stragglers does everyone a disservice - it increases cycle time and thus harms frequency and capacity. If you want to slash elevator waiting times and capacity, you never hold doors open.

What is widely thought of as compassion (with regards to holding doors open) is actually counter-productive as it reduces the efficiency of the system and is most definitely not compassionate to those un-seen and yet to catch the lift.

Although it is a human characteristic to show compassion to those close at hand and those seen, and not think so much about the distant and unseen (which is why people in western countries are often more concerned about animal cruelty at home than human starvation abroad).

Sorry for the off-topic rant, but I do think that elevators and people's behaviour around them can illustrate some points of public transport planning.

Max Power

I was thinking the same thing as Mr. Parker.
We are constantly reminded on the subway that it's bad to hold the doors, since it delays the entire train for a late passenger or 2; yet somehow we should hold the door for a service that is even more frequent.
Besides the comment reeks of narcissism. She assumes her time is so important that she should leave with little margin for delays, and that other people's activity is less important than hers, so they should wait for her. She doesn't seem to consider that her neighbor may be rushing to meet a transit schedule as well.

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the firm

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