The interior layout of a train car has a direct effect on capacity. Here is some interesting research on riders’ preferences and optimizing layouts.

This is an open thread.

53 Replies to “Sunday open thread: subway car layouts”

  1. New site design folks… still working out some kinks but do let me know what you think.

    1. I like it. I really appreciate the big comment box, with nice font contrast. The last iteration of comments was much harder to read. I think there will be fewer mistakes as a result.

      The shaded comments for new comments is intuitive.

      My only quibble is there might be a bit too much white space. The gap between comments seems especially excessive. But overall I think it is much nicer.

      1. Yep, I have gotten lots of feedback that it was hard to read the text in the old comment box.

    2. You can’t tell what’s been posted on page 2 without actually going to page 2 (or the quick look at latest main page articles, though that’s less of an issue), thus necessitating another pageload to find out if there’s even anything new there.

      No comments link at the bottom of frontpage articles (unless there’s further article after the jump), thus necessitating scrolling back up and mousing to the tiny link under the article title, which itself isn’t the best if you have motor control issues.

      The New Comment background is astoundingly faint for deuteranopic (red/green) colorblind people. It took 2 or 3 tries to figure out whether I could even see it, whereas before I could scroll very fast through the comments and the blue line would stick out very obviously that there was something new there. This could be improved with a less problematic color choice (think more in the blues, less in the cyans).

      The lack of any visual indicators of reply comments in the layout design forces readers to remeasure how far the next comment is from the one proceeding it to tell if it’s a reply or a brand-new comment every time.

      I personally think the reply UI is significantly oversized, but that might be a casualty to having a decent UI on mobile, which honestly I rarely use because navigating and typing on it is so difficult.

      Basically it’s a whole lot of design decisions that don’t work very well if you don’t have normative levels of motor skills or eye functionality, and offload a lot of site layout delineation onto the reader’s brain, which that might be fine for neurotypical people, I wouldn’t know, but it’s a big problem for those of us who have to manually process these things in our heads.

      1. Thank you Ness, this is very helpful. I’m committed to making it as accessible as I can. to everyone. A big driver of this redesign was feedback that the typography was too thin and light on the previous site for some people to read.

        Yes, I am trying to make the comment form work well on desktop and mobile. And I’ve added the Page 2 links back to the sidebar.

        Also – I am trying to bring back the blue side bar, right now it’s not cooperating but it is my intention to see if I can make it work.

    3. For some reason the way I previous formatted paragraph breaks, brkt-slash-P-brkt, now seems to remove the blank line between paragraphs. The only reason I put this in, the old comment format created a blank line with just a cariage return, was to improve readability with Real-time HTML Editor. I agree with others that really the biggest improvement would be a built in proof reader.

      1. Yep, I hit the Reply to Frank and (line test)

        It seems to have created a new thread.
        That will get old in a hurry. (more line/paragraph format testing)

      2. Carriage return is generating newlines for me, and two are producing the expected blank line between.

        Also test to see if this actually replies to Bernie’s comment.

      3. Yeah, the new system ignores html /p paragraph breaks as did the old system. I just put them in when using Real-time HTML Editor to preview my hand crafted HTML. The difference seems to be that the new system requires two carriage returns where the old one created a paragraph break with one as most software that has automatic word wrapping behaves.

        I’m having a hard time following the blue box post relationships. Also, it appears we’ve lost the ability to reply to a reply which on long threads was very useful.

    4. It looks more elegant than the previous layout. The only negative I’ve found is the large difference in font size between the article text and comment text. I had my browser set to 110% zoom for the previous layout, but that made the article text seem a bit large so I turned it down to 100%, but that makes the comment text tiny. The comment form font looks even larger than the article text. So I’d bring these font sizes closer together.

    5. I used to use the number of comments to a post (shown in a small blue box) as a guide to reread that post with comments. It’s currently not shown on the new home page (although it is listed on each post’s page). That’s important because once a post’s page is loaded, refreshing would remove the shading of new comments and that makes it harder to hone in on new comments.

      I also have problems seeing the light blue shading for new comments. It’s much harder in sunlight. I’m not a web site color expert so I can’t suggest a better shade, though.

      1. Oh! I see it under the title! I’m mistaken! It’s there — just not in a blue box!

    6. My comments on the new website (in order of importance)
      1) The font size while I’m typing a comment is too large, limiting the size of what I can see on the screen at a time, since the box is only so big. This makes it difficult to proofread, increasing the liklihood that I’ll discover typos only after hitting the “post” button.
      2) The marker indicating which comments I’ve seen since I last loaded the page is gone. I found this quite useful under the old website.
      3) The site still doesn’t remember my name and email when I post a comment, forcing me to retype it every time
      4) Please put back the link to page 2 posts from the main page.
      5) Some background pictures on the left and right, instead of just a plain white background would be nice.

      1. Thanks!

        2. should still be true. The comments have a light blue background now if they’re new.
        3. you can sign up for a Page 2 account and stay logged in if you like.

      2. |-em|The comments have a light blue background now if they’re new.|/-em|

        Thanks! I was having a hard time figuring out the blue. It’s helpful to have new comments marked. Although, I’m typically reading them via email notification anyway. What I’m missing from the old design is some way to identify threads be it indent, boxes, shading, etc. That seems to be a lost feature in the new interface and at least with my home browser (Firefox) I’m seeing the jumbled chronological order Ness mentioned. Tuesday I’ll have a chance at school to test it with Chrome.

    7. I think it’s too bright. The beige was a nice neutral tone while the white is a bit blinding. Also (unpopular opinion, apparently), I think the comments section on the old design was far superior. It’s much harder to tell threads apart now, which means it’s harder to follow a discussion. Also, it’s difficult to distinguish the shading for new comments (at least for me); the bar was much easier to see.

      1. After reading more, I find the text size for comments to be way too small. Now, I have to zoom out to read the article, then zoom in to read the comments. The comments’ quote style is also disproportionately big, drawing the reader’s eye to it rather than to the comment itself.

      2. I think it’s too bright.

        And you’re wearing sunglasses :=

        I’m not too bright. In fact I don’t even know how to dial a URL on my phone. But it’s nice to know I’m not the only one that finds it hard to distinguish threads with the new interface.

      3. “I think the comments section on the old design was far superior. It’s much harder to tell threads apart now,…”

        I totally agree on this particular point.

    8. I’m having trouble following the comments section without any lines or boxes to track indentation levels with.

      Also, “Floating” headers are a huge pet peeve of mine. When I scroll down, I don’t need the header following me, it just gets in the way. If I suddenly need to click the link to Page 2 while halfway through the comments section, I know where to find it. (I have a script for removing them on my laptop at home, but I usually read this blog at work.)

      Otherwise, looks nice!

  2. Nice video; interesting and informative. But good God, they need an editor. Twice they use the word “comfortability”. The word is comfort. Holy smokes, it reminds me of “conversate”. No, kid, you converse — you don’t “conversate”.

    It makes me feel old. Someone capable of making a nice, well produced video, with good historical information, yet they stumble over the phrase “built for speed, not comfort” and add a bunch of extra syllables to an otherwise pithy phrase .

  3. Kirkland’s RapidRide Should Connect to Redmond

    adopting route 250 as the preferred option for service north of Bellevue, with Kirkland-Redmond service substituted for the less useful Kirkland-Totem Lake segment.

    I’d like to dredge this up again. On whole I think it’s an ill conceived plan. For starters it is in no way a substitute for 234/235 service. Almost the only thing in commonis the lowest ridership portion of these two routes; S. Kirkland P&R to Kirkland TC via Lk Washington Blvd.
    From the north, it deletes 234 service between Kenmore and Kirkland. This is a well used segment with people using it to access Juanita and transferring at NE 124th to access Totem Lake. Similarly, deleting the 235 eliminates all service on 124 Ave between NE 85th and Totem Lake. Note that the “large development” touted on NE 85th actually fronts on NE 124th where it would be much more pleasant to catch a bus. The 255 effectively ends at the Flyer Stop. The so called Totem Lake Transit Center is little more than a turn around and layover space that manages to miss Evergreen Medical Center and the provides no connectivity to fastest developing area, the Totem Lake Mall site.
    At the southern end my grip is again that the reroute fails to provide like for like service. To move the route from 116th Ave to 120th is just brain dead. It leaves a significant and vulnerable population with no transit service. Further, It’s going to increase travel time (for no good reason) by lengthening the route and adding two more light cycles (3-4 when Spring Blvd opens).
    In short, this removes the only transit option for significant portions of north Kirkland, Juanita, Kenmore, Rose Hill and Totem Lake substituting in it’s place another option to transit rich DT Redmond. At the southern end it preserves the lowest ridership (albeit sole transit option) portion of the234/235 and for some inexplicable reason deletes all service along the Medical Mile.

    1. I’m not sure if the “ill-conceived plan” you’re referring to is Metro’s planned 2020 restructure or Dan Ryan’s proposal to make the new route 250 a RapidRide.

      But, taking a look at Metro’s 2020 proposal in more detail, today’s service on 124th Ave. between Kirkland and Totem Lake isn’t going anywhere. It’s just moved to another route (239) and doesn’t have a one-seat ride to Bellevue anymore.

      Finn Hill also still retains service, although it would go to Totem Lake instead of Kirkland Transit Center. Once I-405 BRT opens, it would likely ultimately get you to downtown Bellevue faster than the current 234; but for the interim period of a few years when the restructure has happened, but I-405 BRT isn’t there yet, it may get worse.

      “To move the route from 116th Ave to 120th is just brain dead.”

      I don’t think that was ever a real proposal, just someone on STB suggesting that it was something that could maybe be considered at some future date, if the Spring District becomes big enough to warrant it. I’m personally weary of adding any more twists, turns, and stoplights to a bus route than necessary.

      I agree that Totem Lake Transit Center is a mess, and it should be treated as a layover facility, not transit center. Buses that pass through the area and don’t end there should just serve regular bus stops on the street.

      1. Ah, I see the switch from 116th to 120th was in fact a proposal in the original post:

        It may be more useful to instead serve the developing activity center, and light rail station, at 120th Ave NE instead.

        I can’t see Metro going along with that. As far as Spring District development on 120th that’s pretty much done; well, currently under construction but not yet open. North of Spring Blvd is the new Audi dealer, OMF East, the relocated BMW deal, Bellevue Base and East Base that preclude any further development for the foreseeable future. And Bellevue School District has started leasing space for bus parking as the current lot is out of capacity and due to loose even more space to pending road construction. I’m more interested in how bus connections to Wilburton Station will work. Originally dubbed Hospital Station it doesn’t serve the hospitals very well. I believe you have to hoof it east two blocks from behind Whole Foods and north from NE 8th up to NE 10th to connect with Medical Mile service. NE 8th could be substituted for the the current NE10th east/west portion but that has other issues.

        The Finn Hill area loses it’s connection to DT Kirkland. The new 239 service wasn’t mentioned in the post. The one seat ride to DT Bellevue isn’t important since transfer options are likely faster. Hopefully the 239 will focus on serving “The Village @ Totem Lake” and the medical facilities up on the hill. And then continue to Kingsgate P&R because the so called Transit Center is just about useless.

      2. I agree, unless something drastically changes, the Kirkland->Bellevue bus should just stay on 116th. Which seems to be what Metro is thinking too. I think there is a lot of value in having service that runs in a coherent straight line, and designing routes that keep zig-zagging left and right in search of riders simply creates routes that are slow, unintelligible spaghetti.

        “I’m more interested in how bus connections to Wilburton Station will work.”
        I have a hard time imagining people waiting for a bus to go two blocks from Wilberton Station to Overlake Hospital. Most will walk, and those that can’t can switch to the existing Bellevue->Kirkland bus from Bellevue Transit Center. I’m not sure Wilberton station needs any special bus connections beyond what’s already there.

        “Hopefully the 239 will focus on serving “The Village @ Totem Lake” and the medical facilities up on the hill. And then continue to Kingsgate P&R because the so called Transit Center is just about useless.”

        Yes, that is indeed what it does. But, I’m not thrilled with the routing. Totem Lake Transit Center is useless, like you said, yet the bus still wastes everybody’s time by detouring into and out of it. Continuing to Kingsgate P&R also feels like an unnecessary detour for a route that continues north (taking over the current 255’s routing down 124th north of Totem Lake). The purpose of Kingsgate P&R is to be somewhere you can drive to to catch a bus. Nobody is going to drive to a P&R to catch a local route like the 239. People will drive to a P&R to catch an express to Seattle, or, possibly DT Bellevue. I’d prefer to see the 239 just keep going north down 120th to 132nd, then turn right, cut over to 124th, and not bother with Kingsgate P&R at all. There is the tradeoff of a 1,000-foot walk to the freeway station and associated bus connections. But, it’s flat and has good sidewalks…in short, that’s the price you have to pay for a bus that goes in a straight line. If you can’t handle the walk, you still have the option to stay on the 239 bus to the future station at I-405/85th and connect to the 405 bus there.

        I have mixed feelings about the decision to connect Finn Hill to Totem Lake instead of downtown Kirkland. I can understand it totally from the planners perspective, in that it would be redundant service to put yet another bus down Market St. But, I also can’t help be wondering if some existing riders of the 234 are going to be screwed over. If any of them work in DT Kirkland, the extra connection is going to add a lot of time. But, I guess they all have cars, or they wouldn’t be living out there in the first place, and if you lose two riders going to DT Kirkland and gain three riders going to DT Bellevue (because the connection to the 405 bus is faster than the long milk run), the system as a whole still comes out ahead.

      3. I have a hard time imagining people waiting for a bus to go two blocks from Wilberton Station to Overlake Hospital.

        Well, it’s more like 3-4 blocks depending on what part of Overlake you’re trying to get to. It’s not a horrible walk for someone that’s reasonably fit but after spending several weeks on crutches I can tell you it would be zero fun. There’s also the issue that hospital workers have odd shifts and during the winter it’s cold, wet and dark most of the time. But the main issue is people that are trying to go farther north on 116th. Childrens for example is north of 12th and then there’s the construction crane at the currently under construction Aegis senior living building. Sure people can get off Link or RR-B at the DT TC but that link connection is nothing to write home about either.

        the decision to connect Finn Hill to Totem Lake instead of downtown Kirkland.

        It’s not just DT Kirkland but the lost connection to Juanita as well which has become a mini-city in it’s own right. They still have the 255 and I think the 216 but this little “urban island” is doing the TOD dance but still losing serve to what, improve Kirkland to Redmond service? Yeah, you’re right that overall ridership numbers will probably be better on the new 250 route but I’m not as convinced that the net transit use will increase but rather existing riders will just get a more premium service. Maybe that’s OK. Or, as you pointed out, since most of the people losing service will revert to SOVs the Orca are the big losers. Usually I’m all about system efficiency so I guess in a way I’m playing devils advocate. I no longer work in Totem Lake so I’ve got no dog in the fight.

        I’d prefer to see the 239 just keep going north down 120th to 132nd… There is the tradeoff of a 1,000-foot walk to the freeway station

        Yeah, so I wasn’t really concerned with the connection to the P&R but rather the connection to the freeway station. A lot of health care workers get off there and unless the are catching a bus that crosses 405 it’s not pretty. I thought the 255 terminated at the TC but it may have changed since I was riding that route. And there were multiple flavors of the 255. Back then the hot tip, if you had an experienced driver that was hip, was to board one of the buses going “out of service” at Kirkland TC and hop a non-stop freeway ride NB in the morning to Totem Lake. With the development of Totem Lake Village (excuse me, “The Village @ Totem Lake”) and the explosive growth of DT Kirkland I can see this freeway route being a pretty popular option.

    2. Bernie, a couple of points about that “large development” (which I am quite familiar with and which is indeed large): 1) it does not front on 124th – it is located between 120th and 122nd; and 2) the primary pedestrian access is intended at 85th and 122nd – other pedestrian access to the site as a whole would be about halfway down the site on both 120th and 122nd where cars will also enter and these are not primary pedestrian access points, just a sidewalk next to the vehicle access. My guess is that some people will enter that way particularly on 120th if they are walking from the 405 BRT and/or going to one of the two buildings on the west side of the site but if they are accessing the retail areas or the east side from any bus service on 85th they will likely use the large terraced entry on 85th and 122nd. That entrance is what you see nearest to you on that rendering on the STB post you’ve linked.

      Were the east side of the project actually on 124th instead of 122nd (where I don’t believe there is any bus service) you would be correct, but it isn’t. The only people likely to use that route as a pedestrian are those in the NE building to the rear and walking to 124th for whatever reason.

      This isn’t meant to dispute your transit routing suggestions, just clarifying where this project is actually located.

      1. Ah, I was off by a couple of blocks. McDonalds is on the corner of 124th. The old Albertsons complex that is getting redeveloped ends at 122. I wonder how much of an issue cut through traffic to Costco is going to be? I’m really surprised the city let them site that store in that location without major traffic mitigation. The current EB stop on NE 85th is mid-block. Likely to minimize traffic impact of having it closer to the intersections. Crossing NE 85th is not going to be fun. But I’m guessing there’s plenty of parking provided for each unit.

  4. Ok Comments aren’t appearing in chronological order either, they’re all jumbled up…that’s a bit of a problem.

  5. Yesterday I went to IKEA and took the 906 from Southcenter at 3:20pm. The van was both larger and higher-ridership than I expected. I expected 10 seats and 0-1 other riders, but it actually had 32 seats and 7 other riders. If it gets 2 more people in the other half of the route, that would be 10 riders per hour. (The route is 30-40 minutes.) And 32 seats seems like a lot for “just a small van”; don’t the trolleybuses on the 2 have less than that?

    The IKEA stop is in the middle of the block, a 3-5 minute walk from the crosswalk. Two women got off with me and jaywalked. I didn’t want to cross the 5-lane stroad with cars whizzing by so I went to the crosswalk. At least the IKEA entrance is closer now, on the same street as the bus. Before when the building was on the adjacent lot you had to go around three sides of the superblock to get to it. And the sidewalks in the parking lot aren’t complete. It’s ironic that the company that’s so eco-friendly it has reusable dishware in the restaurant completely ignores pedestrian access and public transit. The 906 is hourly and doesn’t run at all on Sunday, yet IKEA located its store there.

    1. It’s an example of how even so-calledcoverage routes still get more riders per hour than taxis. I’ve had similar experiences. A couple weeks ago, I was riding the 221 from Eastgate P&R to Crossroads Mall, not because I had a burning desire to ride through Phantom Lake, but because the way the schedules happen to line up with westbound Trailhead Direct buses, I was able to hustle and catch the 221 with no wait, while wait time for the 245 would have been 25 minutes.

      I was expecting to pass by all of Phantom Lake without any ons and offs, given that it was a weekend. To my surprise, not just one person go on the bus there, but two. Two riders in 10 minutes translates to 12 riders per hour, right on par with what is typically expected for a coverage route.

  6. The video raises lots of curious observations:

    1. Car layout are more critical as trains get more crowded.
    2. Once in place, it’s hard to change the concepts.
    3. Open gangways are useful.
    4. Seats on the edges aren’t necessarily better than rows.
    5. The video does not discuss the extra things that people bring — luggage, strollers, bicycles, large shopping bags.
    6. Middle seats are panned. Link has some middle seats (an aspect of meeting ADA wheelchair space laws). The pop-up seat row is a good compromise and often I see them closed. Maybe a row should go?
    7. The shield walls next to Link doors seem to limit how people stand on a train. In particular, a rider will lean against them to stand by a door — blocking riders if they aren’t getting off the train at the next Station. Those shield walls need to be rethought.
    8. The current Link layout results in bicycles often blocking doors. Unless a redesign can resolve this, a design change is needed for times when cars are crowded. The TRB redesign may or may not work better for bicycles. The topic needs more discussion.

    1. HTML blockquote displays in an oversized italic font. IMHO that is a poor formatting choice and doesn’t appear to have any user control.

      Still having a hard time understanding the indent/blue box indication of threads.

      1. Last comment was a reply to asdf2 but it appears as though it was simply a new post? Donn know… maybe it’s just me. This BTW was a reply to my reply to see how that formats.

      2. I was surprised the blockquote was so large, but it does add an interesting variation.

        The commenter’s name in bold looks nice but it stands out a bit too much; the eye should be drawn to the comment text, not the commentator’s name. The name just has to be prominent enough so you can find it if you’re looking for it.

      3. “Last comment was a reply to asdf2 but it appears as though it was simply a new post?”

        It showed up in the right place for me, as did my reply.

      4. My top comment was to asdf2 “May 26, 2019 at 12:05 pm” which now appears before RossB “May 26, 2019 at 9:10 am”. Seems things are getting randomly jumbled.

    2. @Al S., point #8: Most cities world-wide who are serious about transit ban bicycles (except folding) at peak hours including such bike-friendly cities as Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Berlin. In all those cities you pay an additional bicycle fare and they have a car designated with a decent amount space for them; if there’s no space in that area you wait for the next train. They all require a separate bicycle fare as well, and again you cannot bring your non-folding bicycle on board during peak hours. In Stockholm and Paris bicycles are completely banned on the metro. On the London tube non-folded bikes are not allowed during peak hours and not allowed at all on basically anything inside the Circle line. Singapore – folding bikes only, and not during peak hours. Seoul – forbidden completely except Saturdays and holidays.

      The point here is that stricter rules need to be put in place if Seattle is actually going to be a transit city, or one who pays lip service to it. Someone standing with a bicycle takes up the room of at least 3 people; even hanging the bike takes up the room of at least 2 and blocks part of the ingress to the center section of the cars. We do need more space around the doors, and open gangways are a huge help (and the Kinkisharyos are horribly designed apart from being ugly), but the best-practice solution for actually moving people is to have a nice open area for several bikes in part of a car with an additional fare charged – and none allowed at all during peak hours except folding bikes.

      1. This reply function simply does not work. I replied to Al S. and the post ends up down the page and not beneath his post in a string at all. Ugh.

  7. STB feature request: I’d love it if we could use Markdown to format comments, instead of raw HTML.

  8. So – it looks like if we don’t get the third party funding, it will definitely a 14th and Market station for Ballard. And somehow no one really seems to care. What a debacle.

    1. Who doesn’t care? STB readers certainly care. If the powers that be don’t care, that’s just one of the many cases of them not understanding the rider experience or not prioritizing it.

      However, last I heard ST had not chosen 14th; the committee left a blank for the preferred station and first alternate so that the full board could decide.

      1. No, they’ve gone ahead and selected 14th elevated as the preferred. Check the amended document adopted by the Board on Thursday.

  9. I hope Brent doesn’t mind me telling everyone that a few years back he used to video his drives on highways and upload them to his YouTube channel.

    On this holiday weekend, enjoy his scenic drive from Mugu to Malibu on the PCH. Normally, I hate the music that’s added to videos, but this choice is quite relaxing, and blends nicely with the video.

    1. Like this? (Nighttime drive around Leeds, with electroswing music.)

      Or this? (Drive through Florianopolis, Brazil, with ambient music.)

      I like watching foreign city drives; their streets look so different. Leeds has all these roundabounts and signs on both sides and incomprehensible symbols. Florianopolis has signs with an E with a slash through it, which I guess means no parking (não estacimento?)

  10. Building Like Moses with Jacobs in Mind – Scott Larson

    If anyone has read this book, what did you think? The title is intriguing but I’m wondering if it explores actual urban design concepts or is more of just a history.

  11. The problem is not the layout of the seats in the train but the layout of the station platform. Go to Seattle Center monorail and see what a platform should look like: three platforms. Get on the train from the middle platform, get off the train on the outside platforms. All platforms are accessed by elevators, escalators and stairs (hence, no need to ‘cross the tracks’). This cuts your dwell time in half–or more. By cutting dwell time, it speeds up the train and then you don’t care so much about seating–though the monorail has some of the best seat configuration in all transit.

Comments are closed.