People Movers / 自动扶梯什么的

Some things are the same, no matter where you go in the world, no matter the language or culture. Escalators and moving sidewalks fall into this category.

Let’s get one thing straight: people movers are there to move people as fast as possible. These are machines which are meant to move people in potentially congested places, where time is of the essence. They’re used in airports, subway stations and train stations. In airports, there are thousands of people, going in every direction and covering long distances, sometimes with tight connections. You need to move them fast so they don’t miss their plane. Likewise in train stations. Subways are mass transit systems. In cities like Beijing they move hundreds of thousands of people per hour. You use escalators to get people in and out of the stations as fast as possible so that people don’t get delayed and trains don’t get backed up.

Here’s how they do it. They take a person’s walking speed, and they add to it by moving the surface (a staircase or sidewalk) on which you’re walking, so that your overall speed is faster than you could otherwise move on your own.

Let’s get another thing straight: people movers are not there so that you can be lazy. They’re not there so that you can stand around and do nothing while the floor or staircase magically moves under you. Escalators and moving sidewalks cannot achieve their goal of moving people faster if you are lazy. They need your help.

I think escalators and moving sidewalks are a brilliant idea, and their use in subway stations is particularly smart. But what I’ve learned through my travels is that nobody uses them correctly. The people mover is dead. It’s a great idea, but it’s impossible to get people to use it correctly, and as a result, I think the whole system winds up slowing down instead of speeding up. With people standing all over the place on the escalator or moving sidewalk, everyone is moving much slower than they would if they walked on a good old-fashioned non-moving surface. Those of us who do walk on the escalators are stymied by the others just standing around (nobody ever stands to one side, as they should), presumably to admire the lovely tiles on the wall of the subway tunnel. I say forget it. If people won’t use it correctly, then take them out and make people walk up the stairs themselves. The people mover is brilliant, but dead.

One more thing. If you do walk on the escalator, but then you stop at the end before stepping off, then you’re like the butterfly flapping it’s wings in Boston which causes a tornado in Texas. You force everyone walking behind you to slow down or stop and this has a ripple effect throughout the system. You are the reason for a train accident on the other side of the subway system. It’s true. It’s called Chaos Theory.



2 thoughts on “People Movers / 自动扶梯什么的

  1. desktraveler

    Haha! I love the photo of the guy SITTING on the escalator :)I share your strong feelings for escalator protocol. Surprisingly, Vancouver people seem to be getting better at it, and those left-side standers usually jump out of the way quickly if you come up behind them and say excuse me. Unless, of course, one person stands on the left and the next person behind them is too shy to say excuse me, and then from 10 people back it’s just not worth it to try to make people move. But definitely, if you start out walking on the left you had better keep walking right off the end of the escalator!!! Have you seen the YouTube video of the down escalator that sped up and caused a pile-up at the bottom?Now, I do also like the speed of the flat people-movers at airports, but I think they also play a role in just making it less work to move all the way through the huge airports. Not everyone can get a lift on those special golf carts, so I can’t really fault people for letting the mover do all the work. But they only get away with it if they remain courteous by staying to the right and not blocking the walkers! Otherwise, shame on them! Every pilot and flight attendant that I’ve seen at airports continues to walk quickly along the moving sidewalks, and you certainly don’t want to be responsible for holding them up and causing your flight to be late, do you?Lastly, the inclined mover. You didn’t talk about it but you have a photo of it…. These grip luggage carts so they can’t be moved, and pulling suitcases uphill is hard work, so this one is completely different in my mind. You kind of have to take a deep breath, find your inner source of patience, and enjoy the ride.

  2. Paul

    <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"> <html> <head> <meta content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" http-equiv="Content-Type"> </head> <body bgcolor="#ffffff" text="#000000"> I disagree. The inclined mover is just an alternative to the escalator. Keep to the right or keep moving. And as I said in one of my previous posts, <a href="">I don’t have any inner zen</a>. :)<br> <br></body></html>


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