15 votes

Seoul’s solution to ‘hell train’ commutes? Standing room only subway carriages

9 comments

  1. [3]
    unkz
    Link
    So what is the normal available area in square meters, or what is the new capacity in terms of people? Arrrgh.

    Seoul Metro, which operates the network, said Nov. 1 it will remove seats on two compartments on subway lines 4 and 7 each starting in January during rush hour, freeing up 12.6 square meters (136 square feet) of space. The normal capacity of a carriage is 160 people, it said.

    So what is the normal available area in square meters, or what is the new capacity in terms of people? Arrrgh.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      scroll_lock
      Link Parent
      Unscientifically, you can expect three to five people to safely fit in a square meter. It depends on their size and whether they're carrying anything. In Seoul at rush hour, it's probably closer...

      Unscientifically, you can expect three to five people to safely fit in a square meter. It depends on their size and whether they're carrying anything. In Seoul at rush hour, it's probably closer to five.

      Across 12.6 meters, that's a capacity increase of about 63 people per car. Making this change on two cars per trainset increases capacity by about 126 per train. Seoul runs 7-car trains on line 7 and 10-car trains on line 4, so if they were to do this on every car, they could add approximately 441–663 more passengers per train.

      A more elegant solution may be flip-up seats (as in the Paris metro) and a social expectation to stand, if you can, when the car starts to fill up. Some people need to sit, including some rush hour commuters.

      Long-term, the solution to subway overcrowding is to run more trains. I am not particularly familiar with Seoul's system but I imagine their headway is already maxed out. In that case the solution is either longer trains, which requires longer platforms; or more lines, which requires more stations.

      12 votes
      1. mieum
        Link Parent
        I am not sure about line 7, but I believe the headway is maxed out on line 4 at peak hours. If not completely maxed out, then nearly---trains come one after another at rush hour. I don't think...

        Long-term, the solution to subway overcrowding is to run more trains. I am not particularly familiar with Seoul's system but I imagine their headway is already maxed out. In that case the solution is either longer trains, which requires longer platforms; or more lines, which requires more stations.

        I am not sure about line 7, but I believe the headway is maxed out on line 4 at peak hours. If not completely maxed out, then nearly---trains come one after another at rush hour. I don't think extending the platforms for either of these lines is very feasible. They are both older lines with under- and above-ground stations, and with lots of other infrastructure built around them. They both service commuters to and from large cities outside Seoul, and currently there are two major developments that will eventually make commuting easier for people in those regions. Line 7 is being extended to connect it to other routes to and through Incheon. There is another line being built to service Ansan (and Suwon by transfer), which is where all the line 4 commuters are coming/going.

        The way it is now, line 4 is such a massive bottle neck. I used to commute on that line to Ansan every day for years, and I learned how to do it well, but looking back, I am so glad I don't have to do that anymore! Within Seoul, line 4 kind of runs perpendicular to other routes and intersects many other lines, so there is a lot of on-and-off traffic. For this reason there are trains that run only to Sadang (the last Seoul stop on the way to Ansan). But it is the only line that runs directly from Seoul to Ansan (there are technically other routes, but they are not sensible commutes!). This new line will connect Ansan to the west side of Seoul, hopefully alleviating line 4 to some extent, and making it more convenient to get across Seoul.

        In my opinion, the seat-free cars are helpful. Line 4 has had cars that are partially seat-free for a long time. Some trains will have cars without seats on the far end so that people can bring their bikes on and secure them while in transit. It is kind of a half-baked design, especially considering bikes are only allowed on during the weekend, but when I was doing my line 4 commute for all those years, it was much more comfortable when I was lucky enough to catch one of these cars. The trouble with those, however, is because they are intended for bikes, there weren't enough handles to grab onto etc.

        5 votes
  2. [6]
    JCPhoenix
    Link
    Is removing seats really going to help, or will it allow for more overcrowding? I feel the solution isn't so much removing seats, but rather controlling the number of riders per car so that it's...

    According to an opposition lawmaker, 151 safety accidents occurred on the Gimpo line between the end of September 2019 and the end of March this year. More than 40% of these accidents were related to overcrowding, including dizziness, fainting while standing and difficulty breathing.

    Is removing seats really going to help, or will it allow for more overcrowding? I feel the solution isn't so much removing seats, but rather controlling the number of riders per car so that it's safe. Not that that's necessarily easy and/or time efficient. I've never ridden the Seoul Metro, but my experience with many other subways around the world is that no one counts how many people are on each car. If there appears to be room, you get on. If not...Well you might still see if you can squeeze in.

    5 votes
    1. Pioneer
      Link Parent
      Anecdataly, the trains near me have just upgraded and opened up large areas to stand and they feel so much more comfortable now. It's not a tube, but it does seem to work when you give more...

      Anecdataly, the trains near me have just upgraded and opened up large areas to stand and they feel so much more comfortable now.

      It's not a tube, but it does seem to work when you give more standing room.

      5 votes
    2. unkz
      Link Parent
      I’ve been on Tokyo trains where the white gloved staff literally shoved my ass into the train.

      I’ve been on Tokyo trains where the white gloved staff literally shoved my ass into the train.

      4 votes
    3. mieum
      Link Parent
      I think the problem of overcrowding is partly a logistics problem and partly a cultural problem. These lines are inundated with long and short fare passengers at rush hour, so a little extra space...

      Is removing seats really going to help, or will it allow for more overcrowding? I feel the solution isn't so much removing seats, but rather controlling the number of riders per car so that it's safe.

      I think the problem of overcrowding is partly a logistics problem and partly a cultural problem. These lines are inundated with long and short fare passengers at rush hour, so a little extra space is a sensible strategy to increase capacity until other routes can be opened etc. When the train gets crowded the space nearest the doors is where the trouble is because people are constantly getting on and off at the same time. On busy trains, I try to stand in the middle of the car where the seating is, because there is not this "through traffic." In my experience, the extra space on seatless trains helps reduce this strain on the doorway areas because it is not as much of a funnel then.

      That being said, people are pushy. When I see that the train is crowded, I wait for the next one, but most people don't! At some stations here, there are people who stand along the platform to make sure people don't cram in, but they don't have any real power or authority, so many people ignore them. Even on uncrowded trains, many people shove their way onto the train before others have exited; which is very obnoxious, but a big part of the crowding problem, I think. In Korea, there is a self-proclaimed stereotype (if we can call it that) of Koreans being pushy and impatient. Almost exactly one year ago there was the incident in Itaewon where a bunch of people died by getting crushed and smothered in a crowded alleyway on a Saturday night. This is a rather extreme example, but I think many people here understand how these are related. I don't know what it would take to get people to settle down.

      2 votes
    4. ComicSans72
      Link Parent
      151 accidents across 5 years seems pretty miniscule give how many people use them. Holding people off the trains risks over crowding on the platforms which seems like it might be more dangerous....

      151 accidents across 5 years seems pretty miniscule give how many people use them. Holding people off the trains risks over crowding on the platforms which seems like it might be more dangerous.

      The trains and boats here in Bangkok are pretty full too (the boats dangerously ao and I've heard stories of everyone dying when a dock collapsed once). We have these seatless cars too. I don't think they really helped mich, but I don't think people complain about the over crowding much either.

      1 vote
    5. ignorabimus
      Link Parent
      It's an easy way to increase capacity in the system. I would imagine that with fewer people sitting down it probably reduces boarding/alighting times as well which makes it possible to run more...

      It's an easy way to increase capacity in the system. I would imagine that with fewer people sitting down it probably reduces boarding/alighting times as well which makes it possible to run more trains.

      Would be great if anyone knows of any modelling/simulation of this.

      1 vote