No straps to hold onto / Standing in the doorways is easiest
Connex has a proposal to reduce the number of seats in some trains, as well as other internal carriage changes, including changing the doorways, and putting in more handholds.
Almost six years ago, I took my newly purchased Canon A70 digital camera out to the mean streets of Fitzroy, to take pictures of John C holding a foldable chair at a tram stop, for a PTUA brochure entitled “Yarra Trams – BYO Seat“, protesting over the removal of seats from B-class trams, which also featured an image of “Yarra Sardines”.
Apollo tram bum rack seats / Modified Comeng train layout (pic: Channel 9)
So, what’s different about the new Connex proposal to remove seats from trains?
1. It’s less seats removed. The “Apollo” tram layout saw 28 out of the 74 seats came out — around 38%. This time it’s 44 out of 268 (per 3 carriages) — about 16%.
2. The removal of seats from trams was about squeezing more people in, when a better solution would have been to put on more trams. This time, it’s also about better using the existing space down the aisles, and getting people away from the doors, to speed up loading/unloading “dwell” times so that more trains can run. This is particularly a problem at CBD stations in rush hour, when the theoretical dwell time is 30 seconds, but reality can be three or four times that much because the last lot of refurbishments led to a really hopelessly inefficient design that encourages people to block the doors. Quicker loading = more trains can run = less crowding (and probably no overall reduction in seating).
3. The change is being accompanied by lots more rails/poles, largely solving the current problem of having almost nothing to hold onto when standing in some spots.
4. This time around, they actually mentioned it to people before doing it, and explained why, and are keen to have people see it on a demonstration train, and discuss the changes, rather than presenting it as a fait accompli.
It’ll be interesting to see what people think when they see it. I’ve already heard a range of opinions, varying from “outrageous, they shouldn’t take away any seats” to “why don’t they take out all the seats”? I suspect there’s a balance to be found somewhere there.
And it’ll be interesting to see how effective it is at reducing dwell times.