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Station Circulation

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I thought I would start this thread after requesting we add the number of entrances, fare gates and fare machines to the "Station Facts". 

When my partner and I went to BC last September, we noticed that many Skytrain stations (particularly the Canada Line) were quite congested due to the lack of entrances and fare gates. Over the Holidays, I found DailyHive Vanocuver articles listing the number of fare gates per station and thought it would be great for O-Train Fans. 


I find that the O-Train network has plenty of fare gates and fare machines at all stations. This is one aspect that was very well done IMO. 

Another great aspect that I have yet to see anywhere else (I confess that I haven't traveled much in my life) is the double elevators everywhere that does not have other redundancy built in (such as the ramp at uOttawa), other than the "historic" elevator at Blair. 

In terms of entrances and vertical circulation, it all seems pretty adequate thus far as far as I can tell. The only exception might be Parliament's two elevators down from street level to the concourse. An additional two would be beneficial. 


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I'd argue the eastbound platform at uOttawa is maybe the "worst" in terms of flow on the network. If you are coming from the west-end (Barrhaven, Kanata, etc.), Rideau Centre and other places west, you have only one, tight staircase to get off the platform, facing traffic in the other direction too. Then, you have to go through the gates, back up the ramp or stairs outside the station and access wherever you want to go on Campus.

The number of fare gates seems adequate for uOttawa station as a whole, but getting on the east platform can be awful, especially at busier time. Ironically, the emergency exit underpass on the south end of the platform would be the perfect way to offset some of those difficulties, but it seems like it will never be used as such. I think the staircase is limited by the actual configuration and space available at uOttawa, but can probably help explain why a good part of the door issues happen at this station.

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uOttawa is one of only two stations I haven’t visited since Line 1 opened. The other being Cyrville, and I doubt there are any circulation issues over there 😄.

uOttawa, being one of the busiest stations, circulation issues on the eastbound platform should have been a reasonably predictable issue. I understand that with the budget and space available, configuration options were limited however, one thing that could have been done within a similar budget is a second underpass at the south end of the platform connecting to Marion.

As you’ve suggested, opening up the emergency exit, either as an exit only (hard to control) or with three faregates on the south end of each platform, could help with the congestion issues.

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I find most stations have good flow through. Parliament Station empties quite easily when trains arrive and disembark passengers.

I do find that the elevators being located away from the main entrances is a bit of a two edged sword. I can understand that creating a shaft straight down from street level to concourse may have presented issues with underground utilities, garages and so forth. However I have seen enough people at the stair / escalator only entrances looking confused as to how to get down (with strollers, wheelchairs or mobility aids) that having had the elevators positioned in the regular entrances would have prevented. Look at Lyon Station, the regular entrances also integrate the elevators.

Rideau Station (Rideau Centre and Rideau/Sussex entrance) is also in the same boat. Again, based on the layout that even the escalators don't travel in a straight line from mall or surface to the concourse shows that a straight down shaft would have been very difficult.

Just look at Montreal's Metro. They have been escalator/stair only for many years. Recently they have been adding elevators but it is an engineering nightmare, and in many cases, requires several elevators to get down from street to mid-level, then another from the mid-level to the concourse, then another to the platforms.

Some stations with elevators don't even have elevators to the surface. For example, Bonaventure has elevators between the concourse to the platform, but none to the surface. Berri-UQAM has elevators from concourse, to Orange Line and I believe now to the Green Line. Nothing to the Yellow Line so far, which would likely require 2-3 elevators to reach, from the green platforms. If you look at it in more depth, to get from street level at Berri-UQAM to the Yellow line platform, it could take potentially 4-5 elevators to reach.

We are lucky that despite location, and engineering challenges, all our underground stations have complete elevator access from street to platform. It may not be the prettiest solutions but this stuff is rarely pretty when building in existing locations.

To further the discussion, I agree that Rideau (Rideau Centre entrance) and Parliament Stations should have had more elevators from concourse to the street exits. Two doesn't quite cut it at the busiest times, and i would have rather seen 4. Lyon Station is sufficient with 2 elevators per entrance.

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Lyon station's integration of double elevators on either end of the spacious, designed-for-the-future mezzanine level works very well. Like Lyon Station, Rideau station has double elevators from the street (Rideau Centre entrance and ScotiaBank pavilion), however, breaking the mezzanine into easterly and westerly components with a large break in between (which allows for the cathedral-like vaulted look of the central part of the station), means that vertical circulation can't work as well as at Lyon. For example, even though both east and west platforms at Rideau station each have two elevators, breaking the mezzanine level into two sections means that if an elevator is broken on one side of the station, say eastbound from the Rideau Centre access, the only way for a mobility-challenged individual to reach the platform is to descend by elevator to the westbound platform, then ascend via the second easterly elevator on the westbound platform, and, hopefully, descend again to the eastbound platform via the easterly elevator to that platform.

Parliament station is different. Though planners identified it as likely to be the busiest station on the line, only two elevators from the street to the mezzanine level were constructed (a point noted with some consternation by many Twitter posters). This is interesting because (I've done the actual measurements myself) the Parliament station train platforms are the only ones of the three underground station platforms to already have been built fully out; by my measurements the current finished station platforms are ever so slightly longer than 120m/400f. Though it takes a bit of calculation (as Parliament station's mezzanine does not extend as far east or west as the train platforms beneath it and the eastern, unused, part of the platform is partly enclosed by a staff area) I've also measured  how far the train platforms extend in an easterly direction from underneath the eastern side of the vault housing the long escalator/stairs that run between the mezzanine level and the lower level of Heritage Place. I might stand corrected but the currently completed train platforms extend far enough to the east, past the World Exchange Centre's parking ramps, to have allowed for a second set of two elevators to be placed on the south side of Queen Street, east of O'Connor and in front of World Exchange Plaza. This didn't happen, however, and one also can find 2012 reference to five Memorandums of Understanding among the City and property owners adjacent to the DOTT. These Memorandums are not public documents, however, and so it's pretty much impossible to know (I'm speculating a bit) what was in the Memorandum between the City and World Exchange Plaza. Doubtless money plays a key role in what looks to have been a change of plans at some point during the construction process. Online press references from 2012 also mention the second major street exit from Parliament station as located in front of World Exchange Plaza, in a similar configuration to the elevators now in place on the west side of O'Connor. The current exit, through Heritage Place, is listed in 2012 as a "potential" third exit. The end result is only two elevators to the street at the busiest station on the line. Vertical access between the mezzanine and train platforms, however, is equal to Lyon station and superior to Rideau station.

I've visited over 40 subway/metro/LRT systems around the world. Despite all the teething difficulties the Confederation Line continues to experience (and which I believe will be pretty much fully resolved in time) it's still the metro with the best overall vertical access I've seen. There could be more down escalators (and that was the intention as is evident in early architectural renderings of system stations such as Hurdman--the potential to convert several double-wide staircases into a down escalator and still plenty wide staircase exists) but all-in-all the Confederation line, when all systems are working, is the most accessible metro I've been on.


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