London Underground hopes to keep people moving at King’s Cross tube station with new markings on the platform floor – but not everyone’s convinced
The Tube has a new idea to keep London Underground passengers in line: painting platforms green. Last month, London Underground laid down patches of bright green vinyl on the platform for the southbound Victoria line at King’s Cross. Posters and announcements inform passengers that they should not stop in the green lane, which forms a path along the length of the platform with boxes at the platform edge where the tube doors open.
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The idea is to encourage people to spread along the platform and not huddle near the platform entrance or next to the train doors, which can cause bottlenecks and make it difficult for passengers on the tube to disembark. They hope that the method could help ease congestion, particularly in the morning peak. “We’re trying to encourage platform users to maintain a consistent behaviour,” Transport for London spokesperson Ruben Govinden says. “What people are told at the moment is ‘please move down the platform’ – they’re used to being asked that, so what we’re doing is looking to see if we can add a visual cue to that as well.”
Before the trial started, London Underground put additional CCTV cameras on the platform to monitor passenger numbers and flow. They’ll then compare that with data collected with the green lanes in place. Dario Krpan, a behavioural scientist at London School of Economics, says visual cues can be useful tools to signal how people should behave, but he is not convinced that TfL has chosen the best colour for the floor markings. Research shows that people associate red and orange with things they should avoid, he says, while green and blue are usually considered inviting. The message not to stand on the green lanes could therefore be confusing. “It’s essentially a conflicted message,” he says.
He adds that the system would be clearer if a message were written on the green markings themselves, as people often don’t pay attention to things on the wall. But even so, passengers might be inclined to revolt. “Many people, when they’re told to do something, they actually rebel and they don’t want to do it,” he says. “People see themselves as paying customers; they are paying a ticket, they’re coming there, and they don’t necessarily want to be told where they can stand and where they cannot stand.”
Many passengers were less than impressed with a trial at Holborn station in 2016 that asked people to stand on both sides of the escalator rather than walking up on the left side. (The trial was deemed a limited success but The Tube decided not to break with tradition in the long-term).
Govinden says the point of the green lanes trial is to see if it works and to gather feedback, which could include reconsidering the choice of colour. Green was chosen, he says, because “green is for go” – and people are meant to walk on the green lanes, just not stand still on them.
The Underground plans to keep the green lanes in place until at least the end of September. The results may not be as initially expected, however, as Govinden says that, since the plan was put together, the number of trains running through the platform has increased from 32 an hour to 36, which will reduce congestion anyway. “The fact that there are another four trains an hour – quite a significant number – is obviously going to have an effect as well,” he says.
Are you convinced that Green for Go is a good idea on The Tube? Let’s have your comments.
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