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Fascinating - also interesting to see that all seats are facing sideways. What are your general thoughts on number of seats vs. amount of standing area? BART is having this debate with the new railcar order.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

Perimeter seating is generally best for shorter-distance services, more seating for longer-distance.  But it's definitely a subtle debate.  


What would you say the time value of sitting vs standing is? For example, if a vehicle is not full, but there are no seats left, will the added cost of a bigger bus or longer train draw enough additional riders to make it worthwhile?

Eric O

I've always found perimeter seating suggestive of social intercourse, but always anything but. Awkward space. Seems there oughta be more reward for that seat if you're gonna compete that hard for it.

If you think about it, that space is not far from a bar - another place where one is allowed, nay expected, to take the open seat so close to complete strangers. Yet, while the butts may be just as far apart, how different the social obligations.

Andre Lot

@francis: my bet is that there passengers respond with different sensibilities depending on the operational profile of the line.

Cases in which lack of seats is more problematic are those in which a large share of all traffic if -in or -outbound a single station at or near one of its terminus, the commuter railway essentially.

I think that once people realize their chances for a seat are slim if they hop on the train when its seats are often full throughout the journey and are likely to stay so, they are more put off from using it first place than if the "seat availability game" is more unpredictable.

Jack Horner

@Eric D
I would also be interested to know any good references on the time value of sitting vs standing, as this relates to one of my current interests, which is the pros and cons of double deck cars for mixed urban/commuter rail systems like Sydney's

david vartanoff

I am reminded of riders who board reverse commute trains a couple of stops to get seats in their desired direction. This is very common for instance on BART in SF.


@david -
I used to do that when I lived by the 2nd to last station on a BART line, about 40 minutes from downtown. Going in was great - not only was there always a seat, but there was a group of four of us who always took the same four seats and would talk among ourselves on the way in.

Coming back it was guaranteed standing for 25-30 minutes of the ride since I boarded at the last of 4 downtown stations. So I would often reverse back 1 stop if there was a long time until my once every 15-minutes train was coming.

Now I live midway down a different line with 7-minute rush hour headways, and no longer do the reversing.

Dexter Wong

This reminds me of the debate currently going on over the seating capacity of the rail cars being designed for the Honolulu system. One side says it will never work because there aren't enough seats and most people will have to stand. The other side says there are enough seats because a good many people will ride only part of the way.

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