There be doors here

UPDATE (April 21): After being cancelled because the stickers peeled off, the STM has restarted the project.

The STM has begun a pilot project in an effort to reduce boarding problems at metro stations, particularly during rush hour. The idea is to mark where the doors open (they always open at the same place), and create a buffer zone so that people can exit the train safely while others wait off to the side to get on. Believe it or not, this is actually a problem: people are so desperate to get on that they crowd the doors and don’t leave any room for people to get off. Sometimes it can be like trying to get to the stage of a rock concert.

The project is in place at three platforms, each with a different design.

Berri UQAM station - toward Angrignon

Berri UQAM station - toward Angrignon

At Berri-UQAM, the design has three arrows. A large one shows the path people exiting should take. Two smaller ones show how people should wait – off to the side, not crossing this yellow line until everyone is out.

Berri-UQAM station (toward Côte-Vertu)

Berri-UQAM station (toward Côte-Vertu)

A level above, on the Côte-Vertu platform, the same design but without the small side arrows.

Lionel Groulx (toward Honoré-Beaugrand)

Lionel Groulx (toward Honoré-Beaugrand)

Finally, at Lionel-Groulx, a more abstract design that shows just a yellow chevron with no indication what it’s for (besides showing where the door is).

Secret doorway to forbidden donuts?

Secret doorway to forbidden donuts?

Which might be why one of them ended up in front of a wall of the Dunkin Donuts.

The idea makes sense in theory – effective human traffic control would make the trains go faster. And doing it as a pilot project makes even more sense, so that even if it’s the stupidest idea they’ve ever done it’s not a big deal.

I like the idea of marking the location of the doors (metro-savvy people judge their locations based on memory or by the wear pattern on the floor), but this system doesn’t rub me the right way for a few reasons:

First of all, it’s patronizing and condescending. Like those instructions in washrooms that tell you how to wash your hands, do we really need to be told how to stand in front of a train?

The second reason is more practical. Due to a mixture of uneven and dirty floors, plus the fact that people step on them, the stickers are already peeling away. On the Angrignon platform, more than half are already gone.

Finally, as Blork points out, this could easily have the opposite effect. By marking where the doors are, it encourages people to crowd around them. These people are more interested in getting to a seat before everyone else than they are being polite or letting everyone off the train. They want to squeeze by before everyone gets off so they can nab their plastic throne.

Of course, that’s just a guess. We’ll see once the pilot project is finished how well it did. In the meantime, the STM is asking people who have seen these things to fill out a survey online, asking which one they prefer (and whether they have any impact).

14 thoughts on “There be doors here

  1. MAB

    The symbols on the Angrignon platform are exactly the same as those at Gare St-Lazare on the Ligne 3 platform. I recall noticing that they didn’t seem to work at all in Paris and I’d be surprised to see that they were effective here.

  2. BruB

    “”First of all, it’s patronizing and condescending. Like those instructions in washrooms that tell you how to wash your hands, do we really need to be told how to stand in front of a train?””

    I agree with you that it’s patronizing, but yes you have to tell people these things. You know that you have to let people out, but look around you next morning, not everyone knows it or really not everyone cares like us, normal people, do. It’s obvious you have to put your blinker on when you change lane on the highway, yet…. it’s logical that you use the garbage can in the metro, but still…. it make sense you shouldn’t drink and drive but they still they pay millions of dollar to make sure people don’t.

    It’s sad but a few makes everyone looks bad. ALL taxi drivers don’t know how to drive….ALL young people are scums. Well it’s the same here, a few stupid people will make us pay more for our tickets because ther’re to dumb to figure out the fact that we are paying probably hundred of thounsands to have sticker made telling them the procedures.

    After all, there is a sticker in the door telling you not to open them while the metro is rolling!

  3. Marc

    The STM also needs to being in a proper door chime, like the TTC subway has. The current one is weak and gives 0.04 seconds of warning before the doors close.

  4. Jill

    I was at Berri on the weekend, and people were waiting for the train right in the middle of the stickers, like it was an invitation to block the doors.

  5. apestate

    it has the potential to provide an indication of the door position to people with visual impairment, if there’s enough of a texture difference between regular floor + sticker… but I seem to recall being told that at least one of the MAB’s strategies (when teaching ppl how to get around the metro) involves standing under the lights, because apparently that’s where the doors line up.
    Not everything is always totally without reason, Fagstein.
    ya know!

  6. Denis

    @Marc: What chime? I’ve only heard the annoying buzz when trains depart from the beginning of a track. There’s also a voice once in a while that says the doors will close. We need a loud stressful and annoying buzzer playing 2 to 3 tones to warn people that are running that it’s hopeless to keep running anymore…

    I think the stickers are great. People are well organized when waiting for a bus. There is no crowding. It’s so weird that we behave differently while using the subway… This type of design is used in other countries and where I’ve seen it, it worked very well.

    We should be smart enough to adapt to it… Next thing we need are trains with seats that can be folded during rush hour to let more people in + more doors. I’ve seen those in japan and I hope the STM went there and took notes. Considering the new card system they put in place, I guess they haven’t… Oh well..

  7. Marc

    Denis: On some of the MR-73 (Orange, Blue & Yellow lines) trains there is an experimental chime that sounds while the doors close. Absolutely pointless. The one implemented by the TTC a few years ago is well done. Look up a YouTube video if you want to see & hear it. It would also tell people to stop the 100m dash to the train. The voice is news to me.

  8. anonymous coward

    This reminds me of a New York subway moment I had back in 2000, trying to get off at some station, I politely tap the shoulder of the man in front of me and whimper “excuse me”, implying that I need to get out. He half turns at me, highly annoyed, in a heavy Puerto Rican New York accent says, “people tryin to get on da train wazz wrong witch you daaaaaaaymn ?!?!?” Being nonconfrontational (especially in New York) I waited till he let everyone in, and got out after him (almost didnt make it).

    Ok so it’s New York, but it does raise an interesting dilemma, who really has the right of way ? Allowing people to get off first implies that the driver is willing to wait for everyone waiting to get on, which I don’t think is always the case, not in Montreal anyway. It would make more sense to have designated entry/exit doors like on busses…of course I’ld rather they concentrate on resolving the whole-train-line-must-stop-everytime-a-couple-of-drops-of-condensation-lands-on-the-rail issue first.

  9. karine

    I’ve seen the ones in Lionel-Groulx, I thought it was a variation of the strip that runs along the edge of the platform at Sherbrooke (and recently added at LaSalle) to help the blind know where the metro doors are. And today we were kicked out of the metro at Berri (heading to Verdun) and I didn’t notice the stickers on the floors. Probably why a dude grumbled when I walked in to snag a seat…

  10. Marc

    When I grew up in Montreal and took the metro every day, this was never a problem. People just knew to stand clear of the doors and wait till those exiting were clear.

    This was 25 years ago however :-(

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