Move QuietRide to Rear and/or Add Additional QuietRide CarNudging Up Customer Service: Near-Term Fix
Problem, Classification, and Idea
SEPTA’s QuietRide program has been a wild success with passengers. Unfortunately, the program has already begun to be a victim of its own success. Car overcrowding is a common occurrence and the location of the car leads to many operational issues. As a result, the QuietRide car should be moved to a different car and additional QuietRide cars should be added on longer trains.
There are a few notable issues with the QuietRide program. First, having the first car as the QuietRide car creates a problem with regard to customers boarding and exiting trains.
- On SLIV and Push-Pull trains, customers wishing to board/exit this in-demand car have only one point of egress as opposed to two. This is due to the fact that the front vestibule is used as the cab, forcing all QuietRide customers out of one exit (leading to crowding and delays, decreasing customer service).
- Customers wishing to board at outlying stations often must walk or run the length of the platform to reach the QuietRide car, leading to delays and safety concerns.
- Customers are often left to guess if a train is three or more cars in length, making it difficult to know if a train indeed has a QuietRide car.
- Customers in wheelchairs are often forced to use the QuietRide car, even if they wish to speak.
- Those traveling to stations with only two door opening locations are forced to use the QuietRide car for the sake of being able to exit the train in a timely manner.
To mitigate many of the problems, the QuietRide car should be re-designated as the THIRD car of all trains. In this case, not only are the above operational problems solved, but it also makes it easier for customers to identify if they are in a QuietRide car (as trains with two cars would clearly not have a QuietRide since that would be the third car). In addition, many customers seek peace and quiet on their train but also wish to have a seat. Expanding the QuietRide program to also include the rear car of ONLY Push-Pull trains (which are always 7 cars in length) would ensure many of the above issues are not encountered while also expanding quiet car capacity for those who want it. (Expanding on other trains is not recommended given the shorter train length.)
Notes & Graphics
In speaking with several conductors whose experience ranged from a few months to 25 years, various concerns were raised. According to their experience running Push-Pull trainsets, the QuietRide car is not as crowded as some of the other cars in the center of the train. As a result, adding a second QuietRide car to the push-pull trainsets was not viewed as worthwhile. In addition, moving the QuietRide was not believed to have any positive benefit to Push-Pull trains since the majority of the egress delay occurs when customers from the rear cars must walk forward to exit at a station. For conductors who work traditional SLIV equipment, however, the ideas were viewed favorably. According to one conductor, much of the delays encountered on three-car trains relate to crowding at the front doorset. Moving the QuietRide Car to the third car would reduce dwell time and make it easier for customers to know when the QuietRide rule is in effect, but would also make it more difficult for customers to identify the location of the third car on longer trainsets. Provided one could overcome customers’ learning curves in re-learning how to find and identify the QuietRide car, relocating the car was viewed moderately favorably.
Customer Comments (from VERITAS Tickets)
- 628632: Customer requests first car of all trains become quiet car since difficult to determine if a train has three or more open cars.
- 658646: As noted in response to customer concern, “some customers can only ride on [sic] the Quiet Car if they exit at a station that only uses the first car for access to the platform… therefore a customer may not have the ability to oblige the request [to comply with QuietRide rules].”
- Alternative 1: Run a pilot program on select express trains to see what people think. Create a survey for customers on such pilot trains to analyze the data.
- Alternative 2: Create a survey asking for customers thoughts about moving the QuietRide car.
- Execution: Create a massive campaign to alert people to the QuietRide change. Create QuietRide slide-in signage for the older SLIV and Push-Pull equipment, then create a new LED message “QuietRide – 3rd Car” that would display on all cars and all trains (to at least alert people to the change.