Canadian Consulting Engineer

TRANSPORTATION: Station Lighting and Wayfinding Systems

Transit facilities are often congested spaces where passenger arrival and departure movements are compressed into short periods of extremely intense and noisy activity. In these situations, effective ...

March 1, 2002  By Steve Campbell

Transit facilities are often congested spaces where passenger arrival and departure movements are compressed into short periods of extremely intense and noisy activity. In these situations, effective wayfinding systems, involving a combination of visual, audio and tactile elements, become critical to managing heavy volumes of traffic flow and reducing congestion.

Working with consulting structural engineers Fast + Epp of Vancouver, who were responsible for the wayfinding element support structures in the 12-station SkyTrain Millennium Line, Ledalite Architectural Products of Langley, B.C. implemented an integrated systems model of lighting/passenger communications for the platform components. Ledalite developed the original B.C. SkyTrain station lighting, and similar systems for Los Angeles and Tren Urbano in Puerto Rico.

In the Millennium Line, all the passenger communications systems — signage, closed-circuit TV cameras, dynamic LED messaging and public address systems — are integrated within the basic platform lighting “Wayfarer” structure. This integrated system reduces the visual clutter (exposed electrical conduits, speaker boxes, CCTV camera brackets, etc.) and makes the systems less vulnerable to vandalism.

In addition, all the wire and cable runs that service platform levels at each station are housed within the Wayfarer chaseway. Services include 347V power wiring, network cables for LED units, video signal cables, emergency communications wiring, and PA signal wiring. Acoustical sensors in the public address system detect the mounting noise of trains as they approach the station, and the system’s volume rises or falls automatically in response. Basically, this means a PA system passengers can actually hear.

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Each station makes full use of daylight by featuring lots of glass and open architecture. Daylight sensors help reduce energy costs by turning the fluorescent lights down by 75% whenever sufficient ambient light reaches the platform. A typical 80-metre platform is illuminated by 16 five-metre modules mounted end to end using four-foot T8 lamps at 4100k, and giving 20 foot candles minimum light level at the platform edge.

The structural supports for the wayfinding system had to mesh with the unique architectural design of each of the 12 stations, which were designed independently by separate architectural teams. Another aspect of the structural engineering collaboration was the analysis of internal assemblies of Wayfarer modules to ensure that appropriate component shapes, wall thicknesses and attachments were used to counteract static and dynamic loads at mid-span of the typical five-metre units.

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