In Brief

Researchers suggest reevaluation of the layout of NYC trains based on the behaviors of riders.

Over the past 50 years or so, seating layouts on trains of the New York City subway system have not changed all that much. According to a recently released preliminary report compiled by the Transportation Research Board, there are several redesigns that could potentially be implemented in order to maximize space and improve the flow of riders getting on and off the train.

Over the course of three weeks, researchers collected data while riding in over 60 different subway cars. They observed a variety of behaviors with a specific focus on when and where riders chose to sit vs. stand, for how long, and how they behaved toward one another. They noted areas of congestion as well as areas of unutilized space and how all of these variables shifted as the train fills or empties. The researchers specifically focused on off-peak times of the day noting that rush hour completely changes the dynamic because riders have much fewer options regarding sitting and standing.

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