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Fun on Friday: Transit door chimes around the world

Whoever made this video compilation of "doors closing" chimes from metro lines around the world is a transit geek after my own heart.

After watching the video, I have a fresh appreciation for WMATA's comparatively pleasant choice.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post


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That DC one was clearly edited; the doors didn't reopen halfway through closing.

by LowHeadways on Jun 20, 2014 1:33 pm • linkreport

WMATA's original "swing low" chime was much better than the current one. (The video includes a couple of inferior versions of it from other cities, using harsher tones.)

I didn't hear anything on there as annoying as the C20 stock in Stockholm:

by TimK65 on Jun 20, 2014 1:46 pm • linkreport

That announcement is played whenever the operator presses the doors close button and then in quick succession presses the doors open button and then close again. The doors don't actually have to start closing.

The video is sorely lacking Chicago's chimes.

by Matt' Johnson on Jun 20, 2014 2:00 pm • linkreport

I like the Boston Blue line's chime, but really dislike the London Jubilee line. It would get pretty annoying stop after stop. The London Midland was the worst.

by JDC on Jun 20, 2014 2:00 pm • linkreport

There is far too much talking on DC Metro train speakers. The doors are talking, the driver announcing stations and doors, drivers talking to the passengers on the platform, the safety and security announcements in stations and trains.

It's like crying wolf. We eventually just tune everything out and don't hear what's important. Get rid of the door announcement, have the stations be announced automatically so they are understood and consistent, and then when the driver does say something important relating to delays or incidents, people will pay attention.

by jyindc on Jun 20, 2014 2:13 pm • linkreport

If there were an award here, the subway would win it.

by tmm on Jun 20, 2014 2:32 pm • linkreport

Kyoto subway, the Kyoto subway would win it

by tmm on Jun 20, 2014 2:33 pm • linkreport

@tmm - that is actually a bit too much announcing for me. But maybe I agree w/ jyindc that there is too much announcing on DC's Metro, too.

by JDC on Jun 20, 2014 2:36 pm • linkreport

I wish Metro would go back to "stand clear" I can't tell you how many times I nearly stepped back INTO the door. I've watched others do it too. "Stand clear" was clear.

by PamC on Jun 20, 2014 9:04 pm • linkreport

My favorite sounds are on the oldest subway line in Budapest Hungary. It sounds just like a video game, yes?!

by James on Jun 20, 2014 10:25 pm • linkreport

Love the Budapest sounds!
What I love even more about Budapest is that the doors open immediately as you roll into the station. That makes the entire operation so much better! Why WMATA has that interminable pause at every stop is beyond me.

Here's one from the Montreal metro.

Two things we noticed when we were up there this winter:
1) The doors start to open before the train actually stops! (Easier to see in person than on the video)
2) The door chimes are the same noise that the electrical unit on the train makes as it accelerates away from the stop. Kinda cool.

by Joe in SS on Jun 21, 2014 12:31 am • linkreport

From my travels:

Paris (1982) - horn on train (pitch = E) sounds for 10-15 seconds, audible throughout station. This means that everyone comes running when the horn sounds.

Hong Kong (1995) - bilingual announcements, English and Cantonese. "Doors closing" in English; Cantonese announcement sounded like "Thank you from standing" (to my non-Chinese speaking ears).

Rome (2006) - External folding doors sounded like thunderclap when closing.

by Frank IBC on Jun 21, 2014 2:30 am • linkreport

At least in the US, I can see the reason doors only open once the train is completely stopped is a safety feature. We sue a lot more in the US than they do overseas. Also the DC system is newer, so the laws were likely much more safety-focused. And, at least post Americans with Disabilities Act, I cannot imagine having doors opening while train is still somewhat moving.

That said, when I was in Paris last fall I loved that you manually opened the door and that whoever was first in line to exit would hold the switch in the 'open' position until whatever controls the doors allowed that switch to actually open the door. There were times that the doors opened and the train wasn't completely stopped it seemed.

by JDC on Jun 21, 2014 9:07 pm • linkreport

Wow, the London tones are horrible.

by dcseain on Jun 21, 2014 9:24 pm • linkreport

I like how the first London example has both inner and outer doors. A quick Google image search shows that the inner doors are the train doors and the outer doors are part of a wall on the platform to prevent people from tossing their lunch onto the tracks:

Very nice!

by Not Michael Hamilton on Jun 21, 2014 9:29 pm • linkreport

Many modern metro/subway systems have platform doors (as on the Jubilee line) -- this is a feature of metro systems constructed since the 1990s/2000s.

by James on Jun 21, 2014 9:36 pm • linkreport

Thanks! Presumably the real Michael Hamilton would have known that.

by Not Michael Hamilton on Jun 21, 2014 9:38 pm • linkreport

Missing the greatest 'doors closing' announcement of them all: the Prague Metro.

"Ukončete prosím výstup a nástup, dveře se zavírají"

by Dizzy on Jun 22, 2014 11:55 pm • linkreport

The best chime is still New Mexico's Rail Runner: the "Meep Meep" sound from the Road Runner cartoons.

by Christof Spieler on Jul 12, 2014 10:17 am • linkreport

My favourite chime is the Toronto Subway, especially in the older H-5 and H-6 cars (now retired). They had mechanical chimes that would often be a little out of tune. It gives it personality.

The door chimes give the system a lasting character. Every system's should be unique, and consistently applied so that when you hear that chime, you know you're home.

by Alan Robinson on Jul 21, 2014 6:48 pm • linkreport

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