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Old 24.10.2009, 19:49
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[Lausanne public transport] Happy birthday, M2

On the 27th of October (next Tuesday) the M2 line of the Lausanne metro will celebrate its first birthday.

Soon after its inauguration I started reading about its teething problems, then it seemed to disappear from the news. Today the weekend edition of Le Temps has a long article about it, M2 an 1 as well as a short commentary about how it has bound Lausanne more closely to Ouchy: Enfin les pieds dans l'eau. Seems to be very successful.

I would love to hear more from those who either use it or see its effects.
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Old 25.10.2009, 07:16
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Re: [Lausanne public transport] Happy birthday, M2

The M2 is great if you are just taking the M2. If you need to connect to or from it with other buses, then it is not so good. A major problem is the lack of a schedule. Most of the day, the trains just run "every 7 minutes", but at no specific times. This means that it MIGHT be faster to transfer onto the M2 from another bus line, but if you're unlucky with the timing then you may regret the decision.

The bus stops and Metro stations are also not well connected to each other. For instance, in Ripponne the Metro station is quite a distance from the bus stops, making the transfer between them much more lengthy than it needs to be. At the train station, you cannot even access the main station without first climbing out of the underground metro station, waiting to cross the busy street, and then descending back underneath the tracks to get to the track that you need. This is only true for metro trains going in one direction, in the other direction you can access the tracks without making this above-ground detour, but this should be possible from BOTH sides.

The other way in which they are not well integrated into the bus system is that the boards by the bus stops telling when the next bus will arrive for each bus line, does not include the times for the Metro. This information is also not displayed anywhere very visible at the Metro stations themselves. You have to go all the way down onto the platforms before you can see the board that says when the next train will arrive. My main reason for not using the Metro much is that I don't know when the next train will leave, they could easily improve this by adding this information in more convenient places (or try to use an actual schedule).

The automatic timing for closing the doors is also not ideal. If there are too many people waiting to get off an on, then the doors can close and the train leave when only half of the people who are waiting have had time to get on. There is no way to hold the doors open, and people sometimes have the doors close on them when they are half-way into the train; it is then almost impossible for people to assist them in getting out of the crushing doors! Since there is no driver, you would think that someone in the control center would be watching the load/unload area whenever a train is in the station, and could re-open the doors when necessary, or delay their closing if there are people still waiting to board, but this doesn't seem to happen.

One more thing, the trains started off nice and quiet. Now that they are one year old, and have been going up and down the hill all that time, the brakes are quite worn. Every month the squealing brakes get louder, hopefully they will be replacing them soon.

So, overall, the M2 can sometimes be convenient, but the randomness of how good the connection time will be is very off-putting. If you live on the line, then it is great, if you need to connect to/from it then it is pretty rubbish, but could easily be improved significantly.
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Last edited by ChrisW; 25.10.2009 at 16:18.
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Old 25.10.2009, 10:19
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Re: [Lausanne public transport] Happy birthday, M2

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If you need to connect to or from it with other buses, then it is not so good. A major problem is the lack of a schedule. Most of the day, the trains just run "every 7 minutes", but at no specific times. This means that it MIGHT be faster to transfer onto the M2 from another bus line, but if you're unlucky with the timing then you may regret the decision.
Thanks for this interesting insight! It strikes me as a major problem. One of the best things about the Swiss transport system is that, by and large, it is integrated. Postal buses usually start near the train station, and their timetables are well integrated with the rail ones.

Is there a reason for this "every 7 minutes" non-schedule?
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Old 25.10.2009, 16:31
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Re: [Lausanne public transport] Happy birthday, M2

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Thanks for this interesting insight! It strikes me as a major problem. One of the best things about the Swiss transport system is that, by and large, it is integrated. Postal buses usually start near the train station, and their timetables are well integrated with the rail ones.

Is there a reason for this "every 7 minutes" non-schedule?
At peak periods (morning and evening rush hours), in the middle section of the metro line, the schedule is every 3 minutes, and then there is no point trying to stick to any schedule. This may be why they decided to go with a similar system at other times of the day, and have the every 7 minutes non-schedule. However, since the trains are never affected by other traffic, and because the amount of time to stop in each station is perfectly controlled and adhered to (as I mentioned above). Therefore, it would seem to me that they could keep the metro to a specific schedule much more easily than they could any of the bus lines, most of which do have a schedule (although some of those also run on the "every 7 minutes" system in rush hours). So, I'm like you, I can't see a good reason for not having a real schedule.

Another amazing, and possibly related, thing is that despite all of the computerized control of the trains, the boards that tell you when the next train will arrive are amazingly inaccurate. The time until the next train can tick down steadily, and then when the display says that it is due in 2 minutes, the train suddenly arrives! I've seen this happen multiple times, but other times the predicted arrival times are accurate (and occasionally they are overly-optimistic). I'm always happy when the train is there earlier than I was expecting (which happens more often than it being later than expected), but it bemuses me as to why the predictions are not perfectly accurate - given the way that the trains are run, there should be almost no uncertainty in the timing. I think this might be related to why the trains don't use a real schedule, but I still don't understand the reason behind all of this.

One more thing that I'd like to change: Why not use the "every 3 minutes" schedule all day long? The trains are always busy, and often pretty full, all day long. The lack of a schedule wouldn't be a problem if the trains came every 3 minutes. They obviously have the rolling stock available and the track has the capacity, because they run this frequency at other times of days. There is not much need for much extra staff to run these trains because they are all driver-less and automated. It would obviously require more energy and more wear on the track and trains, but this would seem to be worthwhile given how popular the metro is, and it could be even more popular if they used the increased frequency throughout the day.
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Old 25.10.2009, 17:38
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Re: [Lausanne public transport] Happy birthday, M2

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...to run these trains because they are all driver-less and automated. It would obviously require more energy and more wear on the track and trains, but this would seem to be worthwhile given how popular the metro is, and it could be even more popular if they used the increased frequency throughout the day.
Chris,
Do they manage to keep the M2 stations clean and tag free?
Because of the M2, Lausanne is not in the Guinness book of records anymore for having the shortest subway in the world
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Old 26.10.2009, 06:55
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Re: [Lausanne public transport] Happy birthday, M2

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Chris,
Do they manage to keep the M2 stations clean and tag free?
I haven't noticed any problems in that regard.

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Because of the M2, Lausanne is not in the Guinness book of records anymore for having the shortest subway in the world
When the M2 was launched, they were celebrating now having a different title: being the smallest city in the world with a subway system (a title previously held by Rennes, France), Wikipedia reference-linkLausanne_Metro.
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