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One Way Subway Rush Hour Service

  [vote for,

Usually, In medium-large cities, the commuter trains in the morning are full inbound to the downtown core while being empty outbound, vice-versa in the evening.

This idea is simply to close the outbound platforms during the morning rush, and the inbound platforms during the evening rush. The trains take the same route, however in the off-direction they don't stop for passengers.

Thus, at any given time, most of the trains will be on the rush side: system throughput potential should increase dramatically. At the very least it would make for less crowded trains.

Express buses, which stop only at major intersections, are used to transport the slightly-put-out commuters headed in the non-rush direction.

FlyingToaster, Mar 22 2012

Baked, after a fashion, on the Glasgow subway http://www.spt.co.uk/subway/
because whether you're inbound or outbound, you're also outbound or inbound. [calum, Mar 22 2012]


       I would love to visit the city centre train storage shed at lunchtime!
pocmloc, Mar 22 2012

       It's funny how this same efficiency idea has been proposed for various applications, from trains to highways to public bathrooms.
phundug, Mar 22 2012

       //storage shed at lunchtime// ... why ?   

       //same efficiency idea// ??   

       Only in respect of making a traffic pattern more efficient. For example there would be little advantage to applying this idea to a train route where the stations are miles apart. The highway idea is a non-sequitur, and I don''t really want to know how you think it's applicable to public washrooms.
FlyingToaster, Mar 22 2012

       I was reading the idea that in the morning, all trains head into the city. In the evening, they all head out into the suburbs and countryside. Hence imagining an enourmous 10-level train park buried beneath the city centre.   

       For the bathrooms, I imagine that everyone has to enter together, then pee together, then leave together.
pocmloc, Mar 22 2012

       That would be commuting trains, not commuter trains; you caused me to picture a bunch of subways sitting around playing cards waiting for the evening rush to start.   

       This'un, the trains travel the same as they would, but in the off-rush direction they don't carry, or stop for, passengers. I haven't figured out how to state that elegantly yet though.
FlyingToaster, Mar 22 2012

       I also thought you meant what [pocmloc] thought. In that version, the trains could be stored in a pit, FILO, like a spring-loaded cafeteria tray stack. A length of rail would be placed on each train, and the next one would drive onto that.
spidermother, Mar 22 2012

       You mean like a spring-fed magazine ? In which case, they could be belt-fed, with disintegrating-link belting; no need for the rails, then.   

       Asimov's "strips" (q.v.) do seem to address this problem more effectively ...
8th of 7, Mar 22 2012

       If you mean the moving sidewalks in Diaspora (the city under the stars) thousands of years from now, then repeat after me, "That's i-ma-gi-na-ry.", though considering it took us a week to figure out which novel/author it was from last time the subject of slidewalks came up, we may as well get some use out of it.   

       The amount of futurosity in this post is about a week: enough time to...
- inform the public and have signs printed for off-rush entrances
- schedule (here) say 20 more buses and drivers
- give the station fare-takers a new routine to do.
- increase scheduled maintenance on the subway cars.
FlyingToaster, Mar 22 2012

       Rather than scheduling busses, why not just have the reverse commuting trains carry passengers, but not stop at any station, or possibly a few select stations? The reverse commuters may have to go the wrong way for some amount of time, but at least they won't have to take the bus and be stuck in traffic. In some cities, there might be areas of downtown with a lot of housing fairly concentrated, so if a few stations that are left open, they can be chosen intelligently to minimize backtracking.   

       The amount of gain will depend on two main factors: how much faster the trains can go if they don't stop and how few people there are that need to ride in the "wrong" direction.   

       It's been a while since I've been on the subway, but I seem to remember that in Boston, the trains seemed to unload/load pretty quickly. In addition the tracks weren't that great, so it seemed like it usually only took ~10 seconds to get up to maximum speed, so skipping stops might only increase the average speed by 15%. On the other hand, in Washington DC, the trains could get going pretty fast, but they stayed at each station for a relatively long time and the acceleration/deceleration covered a good portion of the distance, so I wouldn't be surprised if the average speed would be more than twice as fast without stopping.   

       If the trip with reduced stops is twice as fast, then the total round trip time is reduced by 25%, so the time between trains is reduced by 25%. That gives up to a 33% increase in capacity and a reduced wait time between trains on the trains traveling the normal direction without buying any additional cars or hiring additional drivers. It might be about energy neutral as well. The total gain in capacity would be reduced by the number of people having to take the train in the wrong direction to be able to get to/from the station they need. In this case if 25% of the total passengers go the opposite direction, the gains start getting very small and depend on reverse commuters getting on at stops after some of the commuters have gotten off, or only traveling a few stops to get to one of the stations that is open for reverse traffic. Considering the confusion and annoyance to a significant minority of people, you'd only want to do it if there were significant gains.   

       There might even be a few situations where this system could increase the commute speed for most people traveling in the opposite direction as well. Those traveling only one or two stations in the wrong direction will always be slowed down and some might opt to take the bus.   

       So taking this a step further, if the traffic was analyzed, the normal commute direction trains might skip some stops to reduce the total trip time for most riders and the reverse train would skip other stops, with all stops being served by at least one and others being served by both. The pattern of skipped stations could change gradually over the course of the day with all the maps updating dynamically to help you get to your destination. The stations where both trains stop should be ones with the loading platform between the trains to avoid a long walk to switch directions which everyone will expect to do on a regular basis, but they won't care because they know that because of this they actually go there faster. Occasionally a poor tourist would be attempting to get somewhere and after going past the station in one direction, would spend too long looking at the maps so by the time he got back on the reverse train, the station he wanted would now be served by the other direction. On April fools day hackers would attempt to break in and randomize the system to make everyone go in circles..
scad mientist, Mar 23 2012

       The problem in London isn't lack of trains, it's too many people. So, increasing the number of available trains for the commuting peak wouldn't help, as there's a limit imposed by the signalling systems etc. on how close you can put two trains on a piece of track In London, the trains are already at that limit during rush hour and stopping at stations at the rate of one every 1-2 minutes.
hippo, Mar 23 2012

       There's a wide band of existing subway lines vs. city layout that it will work for: best is a simplistic suburb to downtown route, but of course there's some it won't:   

       - lines where the stations are miles apart (since the trains spend most of their time at full speed anyways, barreling through the stations won't decrease the overall time much)   

       - systems where the safety distance between trains is already maxed out (like hippo said)   

       Here there's an independent transit system that joins up with the system at one end of downtown, so that bit (about 10 stations) might have to be totally bi-directional to handle the traffic (though there's about 10 miles of underground walkways throughout the core, so maybe not)   

       The political circus-du-jour is whether the necessary(ish) increase in transit operations is going to be full-subway or light-rail lines... too bad there aren't people whose job it is to figure these things out >_<   

       I enjoy taking public transit wherever I am, schedule permitting, just for the experience/scenery (head out the window, tongue lolling in the wind, sort of thing), but some systems are so rat's-nested in so many different ways that I've had to request assistance from employees (I'm looking at you Philadelphia, but thankyou to the personnel).
FlyingToaster, Mar 23 2012


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