Monday, April 27, 2009

How to make Melbourne trains more livable..part 1

Why are Melbourne trains so generic? They get us from point A to B, sure, but that's about it. Like our homes, and workplaces, we spend much of our lives in trains, so it stands to reason that we should try to make these "spaces" more livable.

In livable, I mean mood enhancing cues and general usability. Suggesting that there should be more services, space to breath, is a given. It's my hope that these mood cues, can make the long commute home, or the sardine squeeze a little bit more bearable.

In my first brainstorm, I suggest 3 factors that can enhance our experience. They are lighting, colours, and standing support.

The current lighting regime consists of cool white fluro lights, on at all times of the day. What are the benefits and problems with this? A cool white light in the morning, can help us become more alert, it's useful for reading and enchances general visability. So far so good.... Until we reach the end of the day. How do we feel by the end of the day? A little bit tired? Those that want a little shuteye, would find it extremely hard to sleep with a cool white light. Suggestion 1. Have a set of warm white lights to offset cool white lights. These will turn on during sunset, to match the outside mood. Lights, will preferably dim, to relax us after a long days work.

Technology of trains also needs to keep up with this livability enhancement. Should we fall asleep, a system using GPS and our mobile phones should alert us upon us approaching a station. Much like an outlook alert, we should be able to set the alert for x stops ahead, or perhaps time the alert to x minutes before reaching the platform. A much need enhancement regardless, of the possiblity of falling asleep.

Aswell as the use of lighting to set our moods, we can also use colours for the same effect. The generic white used in our current cabins scream monotony. Suggestion 2: Use colours and artwork to break the monotony. With the right interior designers, and budding young artists, the train interior can be a canvas to inspire creativity. Do we need to go to a gallery to inspire ourselves? Or can it be with us everyday? The key to making this work, is freshness, so these interior canvasses must be updated regularly. Let's make it happen melbourne.

As being able to get a seat is becoming more and more a luxury during peak hours, measures that can make standing more bearable must be explored. Suggestion 3: Have designated leaning zones with cushioning. This suggestion, controversially includes taking a stand on livability and yes means taking away seats to give more space to those that are sitting. Lets banish those cramped 3 seater configurations forever!!

What I suggest is to do away with the 2 and 3 seater configurations and simply have 1 row of comfortably sized seats along both sides of the train. The centre shall contain a row of cushioned leaning zones made of extremely comfortable material (think croc shoes, and latex pillows). So if we sit, we should be able to sit comfortably, if we stand we should also be able to stand comfortably.

The days of the cattle class and thoughtless, bland design can come to an end if we choose to think rather than accept the status quo. Let's get some ideas out there, and improve this system!

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