Customer Seat Preferences and Standards for Rail Transit Vehicle Layout Design
I. Research Problem Statement
Much research had been carried out in passenger responses to crowded conditions, customer preferences for railcar amenities, and the safety impact of seating hardware and plans. However, there are no adopted industry design standards on seating layouts for rail rapid transit cars used in different types of service. Also, it is not well known how the seating layout interacts with seat utilization, customer comfort, and customer seating preferences. The work will focus on conducting new research (and synthesizing available existing research) in various aspects of seating layouts as they relate to basic system design parameters: (a) relationship between seats, doors, and other railcar interior fixtures such as system maps, poles, emergency communication devices, rescue access, partitions, heaters, etc.; (b) seating versus standee room as it relates to expected crowding, dwell time, duty cycle (short versus long station spacing), and other ridership demographics related factors; (c) seating configuration such as transverse versus longitudinal seating as it relates to railcar duty cycle and required interior equipment; (d) seating layout as it relates to engineering constrants such as railcar weight, location of support beams, etc.; (e) seat layout as it relates to personal safety and security; (f) seating layout as it relates to customer preferences and comfort. As part of this work it is expected that a set of functional design criteria or checklist for car interior design will be generated that could be adopted to local parameters as new cars are designed.
II. Research Objective The research would seek to answer the following questions:
- What drives customer seat choice within a rapid transit railcar?
- What are the trade-offs, constraints, and freedom in design choices in designing an interior layout plan for a rapid transit railcar?
- What are the functional variables that must be considered when specifying railcar interior layouts?
- Can a standard guidebook for railcar seating design be produced? If so, what should it look like?
- What other accessories (and their locations) should be considered when designing a seat layout?
III. Estimate of Problem Funding and Research Period
$250,000 and 24 months
IV. Urgency, Payoff Potential, and Implementation
Railcar interior layouts have been designed mostly from a structural and safety point of view. Certain public transit agencies have conducted local and specific surveys to determine customer preferences when ordering new railcars, but the practice is far from universal and it is not clear that there is an accepted industry standard or norm. As public transit agencies continue to upgrade their service for the amenity-conscious customers of today, research is needed at this time to understand the driving factors behind customer seat preferences, and how seating layouts could be designed for maximum customer comfort and enjoyment within the constraints imposed by engineering and functional requirements.
Index Terms: Rail Vehicle, Train Car, Seating, Customer Behavior, Amenities, Customer Preferences