Depending on where you live, travelling to work via commuter rails can indeed be a tedious experience. Imagine you just hopped on a morning train and there is nowhere to stand without bumping into each other, let alone sit. Overcrowded trains is a problem that goes hand in hand with the trend of moving to urban areas, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Apart from all the people boarded on a train, the interior design — particularly the seats which take too much space — is a major contributor to the crammed nature of trains.
To tackle this issue, designers from PriestmanGoode developed two seating solutions to not only give passengers more breathing space — increasing the car capacity up to 30% — but also improve the overall comfort and travelling experience on public transport networks. Redesigned in the image of bar stools, these seats encourage a more upright posture that frees up space.
“If you have people sort of sitting in the old traditional way with legs sitting out in front, it takes up a lot of space. In some networks they take seats out, so it’s like cattle trucks. But someone could be on these for three hours, so you need seats. Therefore as designers, we need to innovate to help alleviate the problem and improve passenger experience.” says Paul Priestman, a head designer and co-founder of design firm PriestmanGoode.
The first design is called the Horizon. These benches sit slightly higher than your typical train car seat, creating more space underneath for luggage. Their staggered seat design offsets the riders on each bench by a few inches, to keep their shoulders from bumping. Individual seats are furnished with bag hooks for personal belongings, eliminating the need for luggage racks. With foot rests to accommodate passengers of different heights, USB charging bars and tables for tablets and mobile devices to boot, Horizon seats could increase commuter car capacity by 20 to 30 percent.
By comparison, the Island Bay is an adaptable seating solution projected to increase the car capacity by just 15-20 percent. It sports a double seat layout — folded up, the seats offer accommodation during high density peak time. During off-peak, they can be folded down and serve as traditional seats. There is also a double purpose table/window seat mounted on the wall between the two facing seats, ready to accommodate another potential passenger. On top of that, affixed to the aisle-facing side of each bench is another elevated seat gives previously standing passengers a more comfortable position.
Horizon and Island Bay can be installed on new or existing trains and trams, meaning that it could be just a year away from hitting the market. It is likely that train operators would choose to include a combination of these seats alongside regular seats, to ensure that all passengers are comfortably catered for. All in all, boarding a train resembling a bar inside could foreshadow much more pleasant commuting times on the horizon.