lunedì 26 febbraio 2007 Posted by Freddy at 13:53

Connolly Station Dublin - The days of uncommon stupidity.

After weeks from the installation and slightly over the deadline, the new "automatic ticketing system" (a total of 16 ticket gates) went finally(?) in operation at Connolly station on the 19th of February.

After one week of chaos I can conclude that there is no hope for the passengers and that the system is doomed by human stupidity, let's see why.

This station has a total of 7 platforms. Platforms 5 to 7 are the most used because they carry the DART traffic, they are situated on the far left of the station. A set of 6 automatic doors at the end of the station's hall allows passengers to go in and out.

Before the 19th of February the access to the DART platforms was controlled by three ticket gates placed on the left of the station, just in front of the automatic door #1 and a three meter opening, guarded by the station's personnel, was used to let people flow out of the station.

This was people's behavior:
  • People going to platforms 4-7, would enter from the door #1 on the left.
  • People going to platforms 1-3, would enter from the doors on the right.
  • People leaving the station would exit from the doors on the center.

Then the new system went operational, the above-mentioned ticket gates were removed and the new system was configured to let people in exclusively on the right.

The fact that the gate's configuration keeps changing every day (one day there were 14 gates to go out and only 2 to go in) to me is a clear indication that people working in the station don't have yet a clear idea of what to do with the new system and that no planning has been done in advance.

What does this means?

Simple: people going to the DART platforms are now forced to enter on the right, walk to the left in order to reach the path to their platforms and CLASH AGAINST PEOPLE leaving the station (people that by the way just came out of DART's trains).

As you can see from the arrows in the picture below, the two flows of people going in and out of the station are set to collide each damn day. If one week ago getting a train was difficult, now it is close to impossible.

Connolly Station

If the morning is about chaos, the evening is about experiments: in the evening all the gates are usually configured to let people go in or out without limitation (but some days ago there were no gates set up as exits...) . This should be helpful to understand the people's flows, but probably it is just a way to reduce the control personnel during off-peak hours.

Let's take a look at those late evening pictures: how many people want to enter on the left to catch the DART? A lot.

Connolly Station Connolly Station

How many people want to use the gates on the right to reach the same platforms? Nobody.

Connolly Station Connolly Station

Every time people can choose where to go, they stick to the old habits: left for platforms 4-7 right for platforms 1-3. And guess what? People leaving the station would not walk against people entering and would leave from the center gates.

Left, center, right.

Maybe it's too simple to understand.

I've been living in Milan, Italy where they have more than 700.000 people using the underground every day, and where the stations were built mainly in the seventies and I have some experience (I've been there for ten years) about how those problems are solved. In my humble opinion, the solution lies in those magic numbers:
  • 4 gates open on the left
  • 9 gates to go out in the center
  • 3 gates open on the right
Again left, center, right: simple and effective.

And to automatically separate the two flows of people:
  • Automatic door #1 should be set to open only from the outside, allowing people to enter and to go to the platforms
  • Automatic door #2 should be set to open only from the inside, allowing people to leave the station
But I really do not think that all of this will be done anytime soon.

I'm so upset because not only the ticket price has been increased to cover such kind of expenses, but the service is even worse than before: for now it is just a pain to use Connolly station.

Thanks God the new toll gates on the M50 will be run by the French and thanks God there is no nuclear power in Ireland.

Because if you are too stupid to manage a couple of ticket gates you can't have a nuclear power plant.

Well, you could. But let the French run it ok?


Lorenzino ha detto...

piu sfigato che mai, il tuo miglior post ad oggi. Ah dimmi una cosa, ma tu speri veramente che uno possa leggere piu di 5 righe di un post del genere?

Freddy ha detto...

Dipende dalla tua soglia di attenzione e da quanto riesci a capire di quanto c'e' scritto.

Ma 5 righe va gia' bene, la spiegazione del problema la leggi se ti interessa.

Se non usi Connolly station puoi benissimo accontentarti di sapere che il tutto e' gestito con il culo e passare avanti.

Magari dovrei mettere due disegni che mostrano la situazione prima e dopo, ma vorrebbe dire disegnare tutte le porte e i marciapiede.

Freddy ha detto...

I managed to speak with one of the supervisors, he said to me something like that (those are not the exact words used and I'm sure that the opinions expressed do not reflect the station's official point of view):

This is a new system, we are trying to understand a way to make it work better.
Plain English: we are so smart that we haven't done ANY simulation in advance, not even drawing something on a fucking napkin and this is the result.

This station is very old, so it has not been designed to separate flows of people easily.
Plain English: We do not understand how to set those damn gates, so we blame the station's layout.

There are more people leaving the station. The number of people going in is negligible.
Plain English: We do not care if you catch your train or not, we want the station emptied as fast as possible

We will shape in the future the space were the old ticket gates were in order to control the flow of people.
Plain English: maybe in the future we will do something to let you walk to your platform, but for now we like to play with the new system.

We are thinking about using the path to the "Belfast express" to let people reach in some way platforms 5-7.
Plain English: We just read about this Magellan guy and we think it could be cool to double the distance you need to walk today, and let you walk all around the station to catch your train tomorrow.

We cannot open gates on the left because people are coming out from there.
Plain English: We really do not understand that we cannot let people out of the left gates just because door #1 is in front of the gates themselves.

In the evening we will set all the gates in a free state, so that they can be used to enter or to exit.
Plain English: In the morning we create chaos, in the evening we play with the buttons (Friday at 7 pm there were NO GATES SET UP AS EXITS), but we do not really care where people will go.