Reading and Riding

Transport for London escalators now feature ads that can follow you. Exterion Media photo

Hundreds of HD screens have been installed across five different high-traffic tube stations in London. According to a report from The Drum, Exterion Media and Transport for London are doing this as a part of a “network-wide digital, out-of-home upgrade.”

The Waterloo and Oxford Street stations now have full-motion “Digital Ribbons” installed along the escalators. According to the article, the ribbons let ad campaigns flow along the length of the escalators without any breaks.

In addition to the ribbons, the first Digital Gateway superscreen was installed at Bank Station above the escalators. This screen can reportedly update with real-time data like weather or the economy.

“With our new Digital Ribbons screens, Digital Gateway at London Bridge and DEPs, we’re offering big impact for brands in an environment where commuters are very receptive to advertisements and are looking to be engaged and entertained,” Nigel Clarkson, chief revenue officer of Exerion Media said in the article. “The dynamic capabilities of these full-motion formats offer advertisers a stand-out creative canvas that will engage London commuters on a whole new scale.”

Deep Thinking

Escalator illustration; Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The designers of Chongqing, China’s subway system were deep thinkers when it came to the Hongtudi station, and commuters there should know: It takes a five-minute ride on six escalators to reach the Line 10 platform, some 308 ft below street level – a depth equivalent to the height of an approximately 31-story building. The Daily Mail reports that when the station opened in 2016 as part of subway system’s Line 6, it was, at 196 ft below ground level, the deepest transit station in China. That record was broken a year later, when the station was connected to Line 10. Why so deep? China’s CCTV says it was necessary to avoid damaging air-raid shelters and the foundations of nearby buildings. While it takes a little time to reach the platform, the escalators likely are the most popular way to go: the alternative is a stairway with 354 steps. To get an idea of what the ride down is like, check out the video.

The Case for Redundant Escalators

Sound Transit
“Sound Transit University of Washington Station, 2018 winner of The American Institute of Architects Awards “Interior Architecture” (not “Ample Escalators”) category

The Stranger‘s David Cole isn’t too happy with Seattle’s Sound Transit System’s design that didn’t account for redundant escalators. It posits that if one escalator stops working, half the station is essentially inaccessible. Cole continued, citing an incident covered in The Seattle Times, “If more than one escalator fails, the entire station is functionally crippled, resulting in scenes like this past August, when more than 200 people were trapped inside the UW station waiting to exit.”

Cole brings up some good reasons for more escalators, which we already know are good investments when manufactured well and installed in the proper locations. He also identifies another safety issues prevalent in transit stations: emergency stairs that are “somewhat hidden.” The pic below is of the London Underground’s Canary Wharf, where one can find a good example of escalator redundancy.

The London Underground (unlike Seattle’s light rail system) has redundant escalators, as you can see in this photo of the Canary Wharf station.