Recently, Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center released a report, Hub and Spoke: Core Transit Congestion And The Future Of Transit And Development In Greater Boston, describing the problems the MBTA, and the T (the subway), face. I’ll be writing about that in future posts, but I found this section about train capacity to be interesting (boldface mine):
Passengers Per Car: There are three levels of capacity for a given transit vehicle: seated capacity, “service policy” capacity and “crush” capacity. Each type of vehicle in the MBTA fleet has a certain number of seats for passengers; the car’s total capacity is usually calculated as a multiple of the number of seated passengers. The Service Delivery Policy establishes vehicle load standards for each type of subway car, commuter rail vehicle and bus. These standards “establish the average maximum number of passengers allowed per vehicle to provide a safe and comfortable ride.” (MBTA 2010). This number is often referred to as the “service policy” capacity. More riders can, however, be jammed into the cars so a second, higher capacity measure is used — the “crush capacity” is calculated by calculating the number of seated passengers plus 1.5 square feet per standing passenger (2 square feet on buses).
During crush capacity, every standing passenger gets a 15 inch by 15 inch square. Who fits in a 1.5 square feet? I’m not that big a guy with a low BMI, and I don’t fit in that space. Needless to say, the people who show up with humongous backpacks take up much more than this with just their backpacks.
And, yes, the parts of the T I routinely use for commuting routinely experience crush capacity.