I F any discussion or controversy on passenger-vehicle entrances and exits
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be brought to the notice of the layman, his first reaction probably is to question why there should be any difference of opinion at all. That is easy to answer: The whole question affects the safety, convenience and comfort of the public traveller.
Further reactions of any person interested or uninterested relate to the detailed reasons why any one position or typeA of entrance or exit should be better than another. The whys and wherefores are demanded.
That is a matter requiring a more detailed and involved answer, which will be provided by drawing on the views of certain persons in authority.
The prima/ factor is the type of service upon which the vehicle is engaged. It will be obvious that there are important differences in passenger " management " between high-density town traffic and express services outside the urban boundaries.
That factor being assessed, others immediately intrude. Assuming that it has been decided whether to have a single entrance-exit or two separate ones, and whether, if single, it is to be at front or rear, should doors or mere openings be provided?
If there are to be doors, or a door, what type should be employed? Should it slide, or open and shut like a jack-knife? Then, with that matter settled, who is to operate it? Can the driver do it safely? Or should the conductor do it? Shall it be operated by some inge nious mechanism at the touch of a button, or shall the operative expend energy in wielding a system of handles and levers?
Such, in brief, is the nature of the problem. Once an operator's opinion is formed, he must in theory
standardize, for safety's sake. It must be admitted, however, that this is less likely to be possible at present than it was before war interfered with body production.
We have avoided " dragging " London Transport into this little conference on paper, because the problems of the Board are unique, being bound up with traffic density and fare collection to an extent never approached elsewhere.
Let our spokesmen now put forward their opinions, out of long practical operating experience.
J. Forster, General Manager, Trent Motor Traction Co., Ltd., says:— BEFORE deciding on the best system ri of entrances "and exits and the positions in which they should be placed, one must have regard to the passenger-carrying capacity of the vehicle, and the routes over which it is to be operated
In the case of large-capacity vehicles of the sixwheeled double-deck type operating internal services in towns, where the density oE traffic is great and stops are numerous, there should be separate entrances and exits. .1 regard this as being of vital importance, in order to secure speed of loading and unloading, especially at points along the route, where large numbers of passengers may wish to join and leave the vehicle simultaneously The entrance should be at the rear of the vehicle and the exit at the front. On such vehicles I do not consider there is need for a rear door, but there should be one at the front exit. It should be of the folding type, either single or double, and be manipulated by the driver. .
Where double-deck buses of the -normal fourwheeled type are employed on town routes in an ancillary capacity to internal services (on routes where the minimum fare is greater than that charged on the internal services), or on routes which are urban or rural in character, there is need, in my opinion, for only a combined entrance and exit at the rear.
So far, no satisfactory type of door appears to have been devised for a rear-entrance double-deck bus, but to exclude draughts and dust, especially on longer routes operated by this type of vehicle, a door of some sort is clearly desirable. It should be of the double-folding type and be manipulated by the driver.
In the case of single-deck buses on stage-carriage services along urban or rural routes, there is need for only one combined entrance and exit.
I have an open mind as to what is regarded as the best position for the door; both frontand rear-entrance buses have their respective merits and demerits, with neither having any clear advantage over the other. As single-deck• vehicles are generally used cin the longer stage-carriage services and on express services, they should be fitted with doors. Here, again, I prefer doors of the folding type, but in this case I am of the opinion that they should be manipulated by the conductor.
D. M. Sinclair, General Manager, Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Co., Ltd., says:— THE question of the best system of entrances and exits for public-service vehicles is rather a complex one, as it is, to a large extent, dependent on the type of service on which a vehicle is operating. For instance, if a double-deck vehicle be operating exclusively on city services, as is the case with most corporations, I think the rear-entrance double-decker without doors is probably the most suitable. On the other hand, if the vehicle, either double or single deck, be operating largely on country services, I think a 000r is, to say the least, highly desirable.
We ourselves are anxious to fit mechanically operated doors to our singleand double-deck vehicles. They may be operated either pneumatically or hydraulically, and controlled by both the driver and the conductor. A difficulty in providing such doors on rear-entrance double-deckers is to find an alternative position for he emergency door I dislike sliding doors, and would avoid them if at all possible. I think the folding type, either single. or double, to meet the particular body design, is much to be preferred.
0. P. Morrison, General Manager, Bournemouth Transport Department, says:— A S far as Bournemouth is concerned, we have r-Istandardized on the front-exit type for all doubledeck vehicles. The door is on the near side just behind the front bulkhead, facing the front staircase from the upper saloon. Passengers entering both the lower and upper decks board by the orthodox rear platform and staircase, and leave by the front exit door. Two staircases are fitted. The exit door is in the most convenient position possible for passengers leaving both upper and lower saloons.
This arrangement has proved highly successful, never more so than during the difficult years of war, when I am certain we could never have handled anything like the amount of traffic we did if buses of orthodox design had been operated.
I am aware of no other arrangement providing for orderly and regulated movement of passengers entering and leaving vehicles. With all other systems, at some part of the bus at least, there is two-way movement, which causes annoyance and delay. 'Entrance 'and gangways are thus always entirely free for intending pas sengers.
The one weakness in the Bournemouth arrangement is that introduced by the " awkward " type of passenger, who, apparently, cannot obey instructions. I refer to the person who will persist in trying to leave the vehicle by the rear platform, to the annoyance of intending passengers During the war this arrangement came into its own The awkward person was simply overwhelmed; iv was hopeless for him to attempt to infringe the regulations, for the simple reason that as soon as a vehicle arrived at a bus stop so many intending passengers immediately boarded the vehicle that he was compelled to move towards the front exit.
In preparing specifications for new vehicles recently, we gave careful thought to a suggested modification of the Bournemouth front staircase. The idea was that it would be an advantage to arrange for the staircase on the near side, instead of the off side, and, at the same time, reverse it. In doing so, use could be made of that portion of the cab (all our vehicles are full-fronted) on the left-hand side of the driver—a space on the bus which, up to the present, is -free.
Whilst it was possible to arrange for this without interfering with the driver's vision, taking every factor into account, it was considered that the Bournemouth arrangement was preferable.
On the front exit we fit a double folding door slung from the front bulkhead; its operation is controlled solely by the driver, Operation is either mechanical (hand lever), vacuum or air power.
R. T. Ebrey, General Manager, Western. Welsh Omnibus Co., Ltd., says.— OUR view is that the most suitable arrangement f‘x single-deck vehicles is a front entrance with rear emergency exit, the entrance being equipped with a jack-knife folding door. This view is based on the fact that a front entrance is easily observable by the driver without effort or the use of mirrors, and, therefore; there is greater safety for passengers boarding or alighting when the vehicle is in motion.
A rear emergency door is better than the off-side type, as no matter which way a vehicle turns over or is damaged, there is always one means for egress unhampered Further, this type is better constructionally, as it does not weaken the body structure. The folding jack-knife door is easy to manipulate and to maintain. It gives freedom from draughts and does not rattle A passenger leaning against it on the inside cannot possibly fall out by inadvertently operating the handle.
The only point 'against this type of door is a purely esthetic one, in that the passengers' view forward is spoiled by the framework of the door and by the conductor, who has to stand at the front of the vehicle.
We do not think that the entrance door should be controlled by the driver, as we consider that it is the conductor's duty to watch the safety of passengers. Drivers already have their attention fully occupied by their normal duties of driving. Permanent openings would be most unsuitable for our types of operation.
A. E. Cannon, Managing Director, Southdown Motor Services, Ltd., says:— \/E have always favoured the rear sliding type of "I entrance-exit door for single-deck buses and coaches, and, as far as I know, it has proved entirely satisfactory.. We have, however, a few vehicles of a small seating capacity, where the entrance-exit has of necessity been placed at the front. In the majority of cases the doors slide, but in others, where the vehicle is operated by one man, the door is of the double-folding type.
I think the main reason why we favour the rear entrance to single-deck vehicles is that it affords an unobstructed view for passengers occupying the front seats, coupled with the fact that there is possibly less draught for all concerned.
We are, however, having in the near future some vehicles with front entrance-exits—not from choice, but from necessity—and I shall be most interested to be able to obtain some comparative data. All our double-deck vehicles have a permanent opening at the rear.
G. C. Campbell Taylor says:— THE front entrance is convenient for busy urban ser vices, as the driver can assist operations. At the same time, it must be remembered that in London, where the short-journey traffic is very intense, neither the London General Omnibus Co. nor London Transport has operated many vehicles of this type. Also, .front doors are draughty on inter-urban services, and even if a door be provided, the present regrettable tendency of so many conductors is not to bother to operate it.
A further important argument against front doors is that the construction of the body is weakened at the point where extra strength is required.
Contrary to general belief, dust from the road does not easily enter the vehicle fitted with front doors.
The rear entrance, however, has the unfortunate habit of sucking in any dust that may be thrown up by the passage of the vehicle. With rear doors, the driver cannot see the passenger when alighting or boarding the vehicle, so that there is a tendency for a slight time lag with rear doors, which is not experienced with the front door.
From the point of view of the travelling public, there is usually a preference for the rear door for general comfort,. quite apart from other advantages. For a long journey, the rear door is certainly more desirable.
Dealing with the type of door that is used at the entrance-exit, the usual arrangement for coaches, luxury vehicles or long-distance services is for a sliding door tc be employed. Such a door should be carefully designed, however, and special attention should be given to the operating handle and gear, if it is to be operated by both the passenger and the conductor.
If no safety catch be used, the door will have a strong tendency to slam when the vehicle comes to rest because of inertia. Heavy sliding doors are not advis. able for busy urban services, as, owing to the effort required to open or close them, they are often left open.
The most convenient door for easy operation is a double-folding type which can be kept .open or closed by some kind of spring, but which should be easy both to open and shut. A folding door should preferably be placed at the top of the steps, and not at the bottom, as one so frequently finds. Thus, it can be more easily operated by the passenger or conductor.
As to whether the door should be operated by passenger and conductor, or by the driver, this partly depends on the type of vehicle. In a small bus, it is easy to arrange for the driver to operate the door by a handle, and thereby enable a one-man bus to be operated. For larger vehicles, however, the use of a handle by the driver is usually impossible Finally, the important point as to whether doors are necessary at all: obviously, for a heavy urban service in large cities they need not be supplied. The question as to whether permanent openings should be provided is. however, a difficult one for operators who run in both busy cities and in the country.
Inter-urban and country services are usually provided for by privately owned companies, which, even if they cater for a certain amount of town traffic, are well advised to have doors fitted to all their vehicles. The buses are then interchangeable over all routes—a very important point with large fleets.
W. Vane Morland, General Manager, Leeds City Transport Department, says:— WE have to deal with exceptionally heavy traffic con" ditions in this City, and thus far, for one reason or another, the rear entrance has been retained. Some years ago we carried out experiments with frontentrance buses with sliding doors, but this type proved unpopular with the passengers. It also introduced complications at loading points, which were designed for the rear-entrance pattern.
I should add that, as a single-deck type, I am very much attracted by the new Midland Red bus, in which, by reason of the fact that the engine is underslung, the front entrance is directly opposite the driver.