The lifts of the cruise ship I was on earlier this year were very slow when responding to calls.
I wondered if it was the software? Have they deliberately made the lifts less than optimally responsive to hails so as to encourage passengers to use the stairs instead? (God knows we needed to, given the amount of food available on board...)
Assuming the lifts were not loaded with cynical software, it must be human behaviour that is impeding their responsiveness. Here are some of the behaviours I observed.
- Pressing all the buttons regardless of the desired travel direction. This called more cars than was needed, and increased the chance of users getting into a car going the wrong way with the resultant further delays down the track.)
- Not noticing a car has arrived, and continuing to press the call button. The design of some of the lift lobbies made it hard to see whether a car has arrived or not. This unnecessary waiting set off stall loops - where the car waited for the user who in turn waited for it.
- Getting into a car regardless of where it was going. Or getting out without checking which floor the car was on. These simple and understandable lapses of awareness quickly propagated delays across the system in a crowded ship.
- Mobbing the doors onside the car and at the lift lobbies, so as to be complete gridlock. The lack of awareness was fascinating to watch. Perhaps in crowded situations people simply shut down and retreat into their own little private worlds?
- Leaning against the control panel causing the doors to stay open, or unintentionally selecting multiple floors. The slow response of the system encouraged people to pile into the cars, which further exacerbated this problem. Sometimes you cannot control what your backside does when you can't move.
- Overloading the car which caused the system to stop and tell people to get off. There were loads of generously proportioned passengers on board so it didn't take the rated maximum number of (supposedly average weighted) passengers to overload a car!
- Taking the stairs up or down one floor, so as to call the lift from a different floor. It didn't take too many passengers with this bright idea to cause the lifts to stop on consecutive floors; often after the "genius" has moved on anyway.
It would be interesting to interview these passengers to understand what they were thinking (or not as may be the case.)
There may well be simple mechanisms the designers can implement to reduce the impact of these behaviours, or provide diversions to reduce these behaviours.
It is also interesting to note how these behaviours interact with each other to compound and amplify the problem.Image: Image courtesy Shutterstock.