A sign at JT Tokyo Station Photo: YouTube
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JR East encouraging commuters to stop walking on escalators

53 Comments

East Japan Railway Company (JR East) has begun a campaign to encourage commuters to stand still on escalators. The campaign began at Tokyo Station on Monday.

It is common in Tokyo and other cities (though not as much as in the Kansai) for people to form a line on the left side of escalators while the other side is for those who want to rush up or down the escalator.

JR East said it wants to establish the norm of having commuters stand still on escalators as walking on moving steps can lead to accidents such as falling down or being knocked down by someone who loses their balance, Fuji TV reported.

There are also dangers for those with disability or injuries. For example, a person whose body is disabled on their left side would need to stand on the right side of an escalator if they want to hold on to the handrail. Furthermore, according to research, 30 percent more people will be able to use escalators if people line up on both sides instead of letting people walk on one side.

Despite station attendants making efforts on Monday and Tuesday, many commuters still kept using the right side to walk up escalators.

The campaign at Tokyo Station will continue until Feb 1 next year.

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53 Comments
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Missing in this report is how many accident per year on escalator due to walking

25 ( +26 / -1 )

Someone was hit by a walker and fell over, they were saying.

Two solid lines of standing-still people is 'quicker' they said, and gets more people moving through than one line on the left for standing and one for walking. Seen from the station's point of view this is true.

For the individual passenger in a hurry, however, it is infinitely slower, when those train doors could be closing above.

Seems a good enough reason on the face of it, but JR East will be going against established practice here and throughout the world with this. Angry people, rushing to catch a train and pushing through, and unaware overseas visitors, especially with the Olympics, will surely cause even more of such knockdowns.

Even having heard the explanation of the new system individually, surely many will deliberately choose to ignore the request.

Anyone else see confusion ahead?

16 ( +17 / -1 )

30 percent more people will be able to use escalators if people line up on both sides

Does NOT compensate for the lost time spent standing instead of walking. Besides, it will increase the number of people using the stairs by a lot. The stairs are already overloaded!

This will not take in Tokyo where life is a rush and there are big consequences for being late!

Imagine patiently standing on an escalator when your trains leaves in one minute!

11 ( +12 / -1 )

"Please do not walk on the escalator" might encourage some jokers to ask how to get onto it without walking, or to run instead of 'walking'.

Surely something along the lines of "Please stand still on both sides of this elevator, in consideration for the safety of others. "

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This should work about as well as the "don't walk while looking at your smartphone" announcements.

25 ( +25 / -0 )

I once saw a drunk (I hope) young man at the bottom of the down escalator, trying to walkup it. It was funny snd sad at the same time, and went on for minutes. When I tried to help him, he got mad and pushed me away and kept trying.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you read the manufacturer safety manual it says to stand, not walk on escalators. That should be good enough.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

It is common in Japan for people to form a line on the left side of escalators while the other side is for those who want to rush up or down the escalator.

In most of Japan--not in Osaka/Kobe. And boy do some of us get heated when a Kanto visitor blocks the fast lane. I almost always use the stairs, 2 at a time, and arrive at the top well ahead of the standers.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Good luck getting people to follow that! They already have signs and announcements encouraging people not to run and charge into the closing doors of the train and they still do it all the time.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I don't agree with this campaign at all. What I would agree with is if they started a campaign to discourage able bodied people hogging up the lifts, forcing people who really need them to wait longer.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Furthermore, according to research, 30 percent more people will be able to use escalators if people line up on both sides instead of letting people walk on one side. 

This is the real reason - there is no evidence of people being injured while a walker brushes past them.

However, the fact that it is faster to stand suggests too many people choose to stand rather than walk and are queuing up to get in the slow lane. If more people chose to walk it would reduce this gap and also be better for fitness etc.

It was trialled in London a couple of years ago at Holborn tube and while did have positive results it was largely ignored by commuters and not repeated.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Norms are established by consensus, not by fiat. Walkers gonna walk...

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Anyone else see confusion ahead?

I see people just ignoring it.

In Nagoya the subway system has been promoting this "don't walk on the escalator" rule for years to no effect. Everyone still stands on the left, walks on the right.

The safety arguments in favor of it are unconvincing: no data have been presented to show this is an unsafe activity and intuitively it is indistinguishable from walking up and down stairs.

The idea that it will move people quicker also seems problematic since it assumes that people will stand shoulder to shoulder on both sides. Asking people to do that is a bit like asking them to invade personal space in an area where they don't do so now. Keeping to the left also lets everyone have their own step and people are going to be reluctant to invade that space, so they would at best stagger themselves which is going to eliminate a lot of that efficiency.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I agree with what most people are saying but makers usually recommend standing in the middle and holding onto the hand rail. They always do that for liability purposes.

But like most say here, not gonna happen.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

They tried exactly the same on the London Underground. Lots of staff yelling at passengers to stand on both sides and not walk, posters and videos with celebrities to educate; it barely worked for a couple of hours...

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Please do not walk up the escalator steps

Or please stand stationery on the escalator steps

Might be clearer English

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I think those who walk on escalators think the move of the escalators plus their walk on them make them reach to the upper floor twice faster. Let them run up stairs. I walk on escalators at the airports. They are too slow.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

30 percent more people will be able to use escalators if people line up on both sides

I'm not convinced.

Anyway, if someone does not feel comfortable walking on escalators, there is nothing preventing them from standing still. Those who want to "risk it" should be allowed to walk.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

please stand stationery on the escalator steps

Might be clearer English

Not clear at all. What good would come from standing writing materials on the escalator steps when people are in a hurry to get their train?

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Nasubi, try 'stationary', otherwise you will be trying to stand your letter-writing kit  (Bunbogu) upright on the escalator steps. ;-)

I like your suggestions.

Or, "Just stand still. Please do not take out your frustrations on station staff who are only following the orders of some idealist up top."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I worked for a company about 20 years back and we installed and repaired Elevators/Escalators, the thing is, when everyone stands to one side and a few people go up or down the other, the side that everyone stands on gets extra wear and tear, and leads to breakdowns and sometimes accidents!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I see people rushing to get on the Yamanote Line in the morning when there is another one due in about 2 minutes.

I can understand people wanting to get to work early or on time and clocking out on the dot.

Oh, hang on...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Come to think of it, JR East are probably keeping themsleves free from litigation. If an accident happens, they can claim they tried but some individual did not listen. This is very common in Japan, protecting your rear end against some future possibility; the reasons given for the new rules are casually decorative and less than convincing.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Um, easy solution: on the spot fines for people walking looking at smartphones in stations, except on escalators.

Good earner for JR East, Tokyo Met Govt, whoever.

Otherwise can't see anything changing one bit.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Why????

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Bertie

JR East said it wants to establish the norm of having commuters stand still on escalators as walking on moving steps can lead to accidents such as falling down or being knocked down by someone who loses their balance, Fuji TV reported.

I hear this could be a thing in Tokyo, come 2020. The transport mandarins would want to bring it in sooner, rather than later, in order for Tokyoites to get used to the change. Bringing it in come the Olympics will cause more accidents, I reckons.

I'm not as fast as I once was, so it doesn't bother me. I've sort of disengaged from the hurry mode so prevalent in the big cities and as a result, life is a little bit more tolerable when it comes to the hustle and bustle in the metropolis.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This system works and is not broken. Do not try to "fix" it because one person was injured. More silly stats. How about the 99.9999999% of people who either stand or walk without becoming a statistic.

I was in Tokyo station this afternoon. Everyone normal. No double standing lines.

Forget this one, JR. Everything is fine.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Do not try to "fix" it because one person was injured. More silly stats.

One person?

A total of 3,865 people were admitted to hospitals after accidents on escalators between 2011 and 2013, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/11824562/Japan-rewrites-the-rules-on-using-escalators-and-urges-people-to-stop-walking-up.html

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Middleoftheroad, from your experience would it help distribute the wear if people stood on the left Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and on the right on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for example?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Best way seems escalators should be dismantled, so everyone walk on stairs. Physically disable persons only can use special elevator that takes more time to go up/down.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

They can ask me seriously they day they move the escalators so that they Don't block the stairs (or rather, the lazy lines of people who form to ride them and block the stairs). Heck, some of the busiest stations in the city have ONLY escalators in some parts with stairs further away. And have you ever had a train coming and people stand blocking the escalator and/or carrying giant bags? Sorry, but I will walk if I want to.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@ middle-of-the-road:

Nail - head.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think I'll continue to walk.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And have you ever had a train coming and people stand blocking the escalator and/or carrying giant bags?

Ever got old and not quite able to leap tall buildings in one bound anymore?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

In Osaka these past few days they've been blaring this announcement constantly in all the JR stations. NO ONE paid any attention to it.

Last week they had "escalator monitors" wearing orange hats and vests who lined up on both sides of the escalator so no one could walk past them.

In other places they waited just past the escalators and confronted all those who walked up or down escalators and lectured them on the dangers of it.

Japan is starting to feel like a nanny state and all these numerous and extraneous announcements are friggin noise pollution, not to mention annoying as hell.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

That’s a lost cause. But I’m sure one person will use this to stand on the right and block everyone else.

Being Japan they will probably hire a person to ride every escalator all day long while standing on the right.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@cleo, nandakandamanda

Not clear at all. What good would come from standing writing materials on the escalator steps when people are in a hurry to get their train?

That would be dangerous. Fell into that one. Haha

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wouldn't want people to have more than one choice on the escalator. They might start asking the Big Questions.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

ok, so if you have to stand still on the escalators, then the platforms are going to rapidly become dangerous places, with people being shoved around simply to offload the trains whilst most wait for the escalators... stupid idea.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I like the system of standing on the right and hustling up the left. In Japan you gotta hustle.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Standing on both sides of the escalator is a good idea. If people are in a hurry or want exercise, use the stairs. The escalators should be for those that need a break or some help with their mobility. Well done JR on trying to do this.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Need Fast escalators (50kph) and slow escalators (15 kph)...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

JR Kawasaki Station has had similar signs for years now. The two or three times I've seen someone trying to stand on the right side, they get ushered along or move to the left when people come up behind them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This really does go against every social convention in society pretty much all over the world. On the road, sidewalks, and escalators, we have slow lane and fast lane. Its that simple. Its been like that for probably a couple hundred years, before even cars existed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

nandakandamanda

Nah, that would be tedious. How about odd months stand to the left, even months to the right.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is starting to feel like a nanny state and all these numerous and extraneous announcements are friggin noise pollution, not to mention annoying as hell.

When has Japan not been a nanny state? Jomon Period?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I think holding the handrail is the important message, be it escalator or stair.

So stairs should have more handrails going down the centre.

So the open width is two people, same as on an escalator.

That is how you reduce the fall rate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@nandakandamanda

Weight distribution should always be the same, two people standing next to each other or one person in the middle when by themselves, standing on one side one day and the other side the next still causes parts to wear faster. Some stations have single person escalators, that seems to be the best way to go, but, only if they have elevators for the people who can't use escalators. In any place you go in the world, old habits are hard to break!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, if this "encouragement" is adhered to as rigorously as the requirement to offer your seat for elderly, disabled or pregnant passengers, I can't see it being too arduous a change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Next they'll make a sign asking people not to crowd the trains, but wait for the next one. Haha. In any case, honestly, if it's honestly such a security and safety issue, just put in "single-lane" escalators. Then there's no choice.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I get up and leave home in plenty of time so I don’t have to push by people, walk up or down escalators etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was at an amusement park (I can't remember which one) that had slightly wider escalators than the one's in stations and dept stores. It was about a half foot wider but made all the difference in the world.

You could easily walk up one side without coming close to touching the people standing on the side. For future escalators this may be one thing to think about.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Stupid, now if they make an escalator that’s a bit more faster, I get it, but this is just ridiculous. Hope that ridiculous trend doesn’t start in Kyushu.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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