Friday, 23 May 2014

Design flaws and "common sense"

Sometimes I wonder how things end up the way they are. It's usually little, simple things. Well they seem simple to me, but evidently they are complex. News of France's blunder with their TFT's (too fat trains) set me thinking again this week.

You'd think you'd check something like the width of trains before you spend lots of money. They've got to fit! Some might even say that doing so is common sense.

This term "common sense" is one that I wrestle with. I actually think it must be a myth. If it was common we wouldn't end up with these kinds of errors. Would we?

On my regular travels through Flinders Street Station in Melbourne I am regularly struck by a piece of poor design. Here's a picture:

Display screens for platform 12 and 13 at Flinders Street Station
© 2014 divacultura
This screen is at the entry end of platforms 12 and 13 at Flinders Street Station. Everytime I see it it sets my teeth on edge.

The first thing you might notice is that it doesn't read in numerical order from left to right. Then you might think that's because platform 13 is on the left and platform 12 is on the right.

This is not the case. Platform 12 is on the left of this screen and platform is on the right of the screen.

If you're not familiar with the layout of the platforms it would be easy to go to the right hand platform to catch the Williamstown train and go left for Sandringham.

The only thing I can think is that they put them in alphabetical order. That's a valid order, but not usually how train stations are laid out.

Would common sense say they should be the other way around?

That's before we even look at the gap between services during peak time.

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