Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tokyo Trains

In a haiku format in honor of the Japanese form of poetry:
Ever efficient
Always on time for my trip
Please export this, please

I couldn't resist. More to come. Part of the reason the train sevice is so effective is that they run so frequently that the drivers don't have room for much variability. The lowest frequency I saw in a subway was 6 minutes. It was 15 minutes in the very off-peak on the light rail in some of the rural parts that I saw on Monday of my trip.
It was very hard to tell if the signs (this one pictured isn't real-time persay) were based on schedule or the actual information from the train because there was hardly any difference.
During the peak hours, I didn't observe any of the train packers that push you in towards the doors. That's not to say that they aren't out there, it's just that I didn't get a chance to go check them out.
That's something a guidebook should have is to identify where the busiest train lines are and then direct you to watch. I am sure that in this day and age of Mixed Martial Arts that someone would be interested in the carnage that is train boarding (ha!). I am pictured packed in a train pretty tightly. It's definitely a fond memory that brought new levels of the term personal space into my consciousness. It didn't bother me really, but then again I am not a woman that has to endure travelling with men. But the Tokyo rail folks have thought of that and they have women only rail cars that serve those that have been groped one too many times in a crowded rail car. With two girls at home, I sympathize with them and applaud the transit agency's efforts to provide for a secont of the population you might otherwise not have riding the subway. This is somewhat akin to Portland's efforts to organize bike rides for women, which Susan has used as a springboard to enjoying cycling much more than she ever would have if she was pedaling along a bunch of smelly guys like me.
The train station transfer areas sometimes lacked a little in the way of capacity, but in all were very sufficient for moving people. One of the success factors for queuing (just like with traffic signals) is to keep the time people (vehicles in the U.S.) have the ability to congregate to a minimum. Thus, by having a short headway between trains you can keep people moving through the stations and reduce the surge of people that get on or off at anyone location. It also helps to eliminate the passengers who want to save themselves the 10 or 15 minutes between trains that stick their hand into the door to get on this particular train. That happens more than it should in many systems I have experienced and it results in the problems with variability, etc that plague transit.
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