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Blog » Addressing Ped. Capacity Issues at Santiago Metro Transfer Station.mp4

Addressing Ped. Capacity Issues at Santiago Metro Transfer Station.mp4

Created Dec 16 2013, 11:15 AM by Samuel Zimmerman
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“Pedestrian Traffic Engineering” to Increase Capacity of Critical Santiago Metro Transfer Station

Both bus and urban rail systems in developing and developed countries are suffering from the paradox of rising ridership in a tight economic environment where resources to meet increasing demands are scarce and getting scarcer.  There are few systems in the World where this is more the case than the metro in Santiago de Chile.  With over 2.3 million daily trips on a system comprised of only 103 Km of line and only 108 stations, Santiago’s metro is one of the most densely utilized and hence crowded in the World.  Nowhere is this more apparent than at one of the system’s busiest stations, Tobalaba, in which over 30,000 passengers arrive from the south in Line 4 in the single am peak hour. A large majority of these passengers are transferring from Line 4 which terminates at the station to Line 1 in the morning peak period; 60% continue their trips to the core of the city while 40% transfer eastbound to reach the  Las Condes area. 


Severe crowding on the platform at Tobalaba made it difficult for passengers to leave the platform and therefore alight from trains, increasing dwell times at the station and reducing the over-all capacity of Line 4 by a minimum of 10% as well as slowing up passenger travel.    Physical constraints made it impossible to either expand the station platform or add additional passages and stairways to/from it.


After an in-depth analysis of physical, operational and other aspects of the situation, Metro de Santiago implemented  a simple “pedestrian traffic engineering” change on the station platform that effectively solved the problem, increasing over-all system capacity and reducing passenger travel times at almost no cost.

A video describing the previous situation and the solution can be either downloaded from this site or watched at:




The video was produced by the Catholic University of Chile and narrated by Professor Juan Carlos Munoz (tweet,  @JuanCaMunozA).  It provides an additional example of how rigorous, step-by-step analysis can be used to maximize the benefits of urban transport facilities and infrastructure with only modest investment.    The website provides access to other excellent presentations and videos done by professors at the University and other people from the Volvo  BRT “Center of Excellence) of which it is a key member.


  • Thanks for the note Sam. I suffered this situation a couple of times and it was not nice. It reminded me of my morning commute in Tokyo!


    It's encouraging to see that intelligent solutions do actually get implemented sometimes!

  • This is a great case study Sam, thanks a lot for sharing it!


    @Ivan Jaques Goldenberg - I actually lived in Tokyo as well, so I can attest to the madness of the morning commute! Where did you live, and which line did you commute on?