Seoul Metro began its ‘Waiting in two lines on escalators’ campaign on Jan. 30, 2008 after examining escalators’ mechanical conditions and analyzing accidents that occurred on them. On February 6, 2009, the management at Ewha Womans University station decided to put up ‘two line’ signs on the ceiling above escalators so that passengers will notice them more easily.
The decision has special importance at Ewha Station since it has one of the longest escalators - 40.5 meters - in Seoul. And the station gets crowded when students come to or leave school, making accidents a high possibility.
Although people are aware of the campaign, they move quickly when they are trying to be on time or in the last moment before the subway cars shut their doors.
“The stairs are inconvenient and so long that people choose to use escalators even though the stairs have been remodeled for convenience,” said Lee Yeon-ju (Social Welfare, Graduate School).
The staff at Ewha Station points out that people who walk on escalators instead of standing in two lines only save 20 to 30 seconds. Lee Jin-bock, a stationmaster at Ewha Station said that it is dangerous to rush on the escalator because when one person in pushed, others can also tumble down.
“Once the emergency button is used, all passengers on the escalator would have to stagger for a few minutes because of the sudden stop,” said Lee Jin-bock, a stationmaster at Ewha Station.
There have been no casualties or complaints in 2009, but Lee emphasizes that even pushing somebody lightly on the escalator can cause a chain reaction that affects other users.
Those who stand and those who walk often have minor collisions. And while not many pay attention to the posted warnings, there are those who welcome the campaign.
“At first I doubted if people would conform because it just seemed inefficient and blocked. However, after I experienced being pushed several times by people walking fast, I changed my perspective,” said Nam Soo-jung (Media Studies, 1).
Experts at the Korea Elevator Safety Institute, which spearheads the campaign, suggest waiting in two lines is efficient in two ways. It is good for escalators because it evenly disperses the weight of passengers. People lining up on one side has been the main cause of mechanical problems. Standing in two lines also means more passengers can ride the escalator at once.
Ewha Station staffs are now considering further plans to keep people using the escalators safe. After observing whether there is any progress in March, they will post more placards asking people to use the stairs if they want to walk. Workers may also stand near the escalators to directly promote the campaign.