Add Dots for Places to Stand on Trains

Nudging Up Customer Service: Medium-Length Projects

Problem, Classification, and Idea

Being SEPTA’s busiest line, it’s somewhat expected that overcrowding will occur. Despite this, much of the crowding on MFL trains is the result of the M4 equipment that the line uses. Due to the design of the cars, including the position of the windscreens, customers routinely stand in front of the doorways and leave empty space in the middle of the cars. Not only does this lead to severe crowding at doorways and increased dwell time, but it also leads the cars to be underutilized. In order to encourage customers to move in to the cars, subtle markers of increasing shades could be placed aboard trains.


As researched and modeled by Disney’s queuing department, people subtly prefer to stand on designated markers in designated waiting areas. As such, by placing these markers of increasing brightness on the trains, customers might be more inclined to move inward. Adding arrows could also potentially help encourage people to move into the car.

Implementation would be somewhat complex given the time required to add such markers to every single car. However, the cost and magnitude of this project is much less complex than the entire M4 Car Reconfiguration and Overhaul project set to be underway later this year. (This is not to say that this project would mitigate the need for windscreen replacement; rather, this would complement the key redesign aspects of the overhaul.) The best way to evaluate this project would likely be to conduct a pilot with the stickers on the floors in two cars; these would then be able to be evaluated for effectiveness prior to creating the final design for the newly-refurbished trains.


Next Steps

  • Conduct a pilot program with stickers on trains to see how people respond (evaluations being assessed through the use of the onboard security cameras).
  • Expand to include in the overhaul program if successful.