“Please stand behind the yellow line, and do not cross it.” At 6:20 p.m., on July 15, the Sihui station on the Batong Line was filled with passengers waiting for trains. A security guard, standing in the waiting area that had been installed with buffer posts, loudly asked passengers to be careful. However, there were still many passengers leaning against the buffer posts and standing within the yellow line.
A buffer post is a post painted yellow and black that is about 1.5 meters high and 60cm in diameter. One side of the arch faces the waiting area, and the straight side is close to the yellow line with a gap about half a meter away from the edge of the platform. When the train pulls in, the column is right in the middle of where the train door opens, and occupies nearly half of the space in front of the door. According to an official from Beijing Subway, the buffer posts were established after listening to suggestions from the employees at Sihui station. Because the buffer posts are being tested, the Sihui Station only reported the establishment of the buffer posts to the second branch company of Beijing Subway Operation Company.
Officials from the Beijing Subway explained that because there are heavy passenger flows at Sihui Station, passengers always get hurt or quarrel with each other for seats. Buffer posts were installed to direct passengers to form two lines before getting on the train. Because passengers have to get on the train from either gap on each side of the door, the number of incidents such as falls and bruises is expected to be reduced and the passenger flow will be better controlled.
During the evening rush hour on July 15, the reporter waited for the train in front of the door with a buffer post in between. After the train stopped, the heavy passenger flow forced the reporter to lean against the stainless steel column, and the reporter stumbled as soon as he lost his grip on his “crutch.” “Previously, the force was even, and we could get on the train if we went along with the flow of passengers. Now we have to avoid the buffer post, and as a result, we easily lose our center of gravity and collide with passengers beside us. Both my workmates and I do not like using the doors with the buffer posts,” a passenger named Zhang Xiao told the reporter.
Jin Zhanliang, a lawyer who pays great attention to safety on the subway, said that subway platforms, transfer hallways and stairs are accident-prone areas. The buffer posts installed on the platform occupy prime space where passengers can move. In event of emergencies during the morning and evening peak periods, the speed that passengers will be able to be evacuated will be greatly reduced, thus resulting in a latent hazard. Jin suggested, “Before installing any trial equipment on the subway, authorities should take into account passengers’ suggestions apart from the safety evaluations and tests conducted by experts.”