Elevators & Escalators

You press a button, and the elevator comes to you.
You press another button, and it takes you where you want to go.

An elevator is so simple, convenient and quick, but why can’t public transit be that way?

The truth is, an elevator is a type of public transit. Most people think of public transit as Bus and train, which travels from 2 points while making many  stops along the way. There are designated places where the bus stops to pick up or drop off passengers along the way. An elevator acts in a similar way; there is a stop on every floor, and it can pick up and drop off passengers along the way.

But why can’t transit act like an elevator, where it comes when you want it to, and goes where you want to go. The difference is the number of people that go on each service. In an elevator, there is usually less than 2 people (groups) waiting for it to come at one time. At train stations, there are many people at every stop, and they all have different destination. So, if the train only had 2 people on it at one time, then it could act like an elevator.

In fact, there is a type of train that acts like an elevator. It’s called Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), and it is used at airport parking lots where the demand is low. Like an elevator, people press a button to the train, and the person gets to decide where he wants the train to go to.


Escalators can also be considered a type of transit. Though it’s hard to imagine it, you can think of each step of the escalator as its own train; a train that fits 1 person. The steps come every second, and take you from point A to point B.

In reality, public transit cannot act like escalators because there are only 2 stations. The most similar example would be chairlifts and gondolas, but unlike escalators, you cannot walk up the stairs on a gondola.

As we continue down the “technological revolution”, where even toilets are being reinvented, we may see even more forms of public transit to arise.