How to make elevators less crowded


Ever get stuck in an elevator where a bunch of passengers are going up one floor or down two floors? It’s not hard to see how this puts an extra strain on the elevator system, which is arguably optimized to ferry people all the way from the lobby to their desired floor, and back again. Are the one floor passengers just lazy, or is something else to blame?

I ran into a situation this week that may provide an answer. You see, I needed to go down one floor from where I started. I looked at the floor map, located the stairs, and stopped before even turning the door handle to the stairwell. It turns out that the stairwell only allowed re-entry in the lobby, and all the other floors were locked. Maybe there’s some security reason for this, but whatever the rationale, it made the elevator a necessity.

I wish the buildings who lock their stairways would reconsider. Leave every floor you can reach in the elevator open, and just lock the ones that are keycard-protected from the elevator. Then, put up some signage by the elevators to encourage people to use the stairs. For instance, you might say “Only going up or down a few floors? Try the stairs instead” — and put a little map next to the sign. If some of those one floor riders switched to using the stairs, they’d save time for themselves — and cut down on crowding and long waits for those who truly need to ride the elevator a longer distance.