In semester one I researched into Subway design and train stations; the cultural, environmental issues, general security and atmosphere placed around these public transports. The sources for my research were primarily surveys and journals which observed railway stations and links to crime.
How the general public found using stations everyday was my main concern, however after finding results of this I also started to question this service in other cultures, mainly Japan as their country is run by the Subway system. Gaining a greater knowledge of how to improve general public transport is important as everyone uses it and so everyone should be provided with a safe public service to use.
From my secondary research in semester one, I found a relevant Journal of information: ‘The International Journal of Transport Management 1 (2003) 121-132: Managing Crime and Fear of Crime at Railway Stations - a case study of South Wales.’ Which brings forward evidence that the general publics perception of personal crime in the station and in the vicinity of railway stations are much higher than statistics show, discouraging them from using trains. In this journal there is a specific type of research method used in finding this evidence: a Virtual Reality Interaction Programme (CPTED, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design). This provided a walk-through panoramic view of a particular station, with a constructed questionnaire then completed candidates (three males, three females); results were then used in finding needs for improvisations of the railway stations.
Using this method to find out how the public viewed these stations (a total of six in six different locations) gathered some interesting results. Mainly that the stations should have better lighting, followed by increased staff and cleaning to improve customer safety. The interesting part is that all of these screen shots of stations were taking during the day, yet people noticed that more lighting was needed at night. This tells me that by using CPTED people were really paying attention because of the visual aspect of the survey; this may not have been noticed just through a series of questions.
‘Learning from the Japanese City; West Meets East in Urban Design’ Shelton B.1999; gave me an overview of Japanese Culture; why cities look the way they do, and a comparison to the Western world. In relation to my subject this source informed an idea of ‘content’ in Japan rather than ‘context‘(in the West). The locations of rail stations (according to source 1) are usually in deprived areas in Britain. Why? This made me consider how cities are laid out. I questioned the influence of other cultures on our society and how we could learn from Eastern countries to look at Design from a different point of view to perhaps improve on our public transport.
If I were to investigate this topic further with Primary research I would choose to interview the public and also use visual aids such as photographs. I believe that asking the general public is important, as you would gain a good knowledge of who uses the train, how often, what do they think of the service, any bad experiences using the train? My target group to ask would be adults younger and older who pass through the station at rush hour, travelling in and out to work every day. I’m likely to get informed answers from more frequent users. Five main questions would be enough to ask initially then I could ask more from their responses, it would be sensible to keep it under 10 minutes long, as I would hopefully get more than yes/no answers.
Interviewing combines observation; as you interview you tend to analyse their reactions especially from your own questions, so I would use the skills I have learned from my previous assignment ‘Design Safari’.
Even though I would be combining this with an interview and would mainly be observing the person I’m talking to, I could take note of the ‘type’ of person they are; businessman, traveller, etc. Paying attention to whether the interviewee seems calm or stressed when asking them about the trains with the kind of questions I ask. Current issues are important so I would ask about past experiences but mainly stick to up to date questions which would give me fresh answers.
Showing candidates three photos of three different stations and asking them to analyse the image, would help me gather a lot more information rather than just relying on my own observations, they may notice things I don’t with their interpretations.
Problems caused conducting these interviews would be the environment in which I’m interviewing; people who are rushing about for trains may either give me very short answers or not want to partake at all. However I would then ask people in cafes or sitting waiting on trains as they are more likely to be relaxed. There is a possibility of contradiction, I would have to structure my questions carefully so as not to gain an answer that the person might think I’d want to expect or hear. In-direct questions are key essentials. Some of the public may find the interviews invasive, which would then make the situation daunting for myself, questioning more people may prove difficult. The interview participation sheets would clearly state that they may stop being interviewed at any time if they feel uncomfortable and no personal information (name, age etc) will be used in the research or posted on the internet unless consent is given. I have to take into account that the answers given will be opinions, not facts, so when using the interviews for further research I must also look at other sources by other researchers.
My personal safety would be at risk as I would be asking strangers questions so during the day and at rush hours would be my target times. There may also be the risk of station staff questioning my interviewing on the premises, so I would explain my research with the use of a participation sheet. If still unacceptable I would ask in the centre of a city, as most of the public would use this public transport to get to work.
To conclude, I would make use of interviews to research further into the need to improve railway stations and subway design, including using images of different stations and asking people to analyse them. I think this will give me accurate up to date information of the general public’s opinion on the needs and improvements of stations. Also whether they feel safe, the atmosphere and everyday issues of using the train. I will do this by interviewing candidates in stations in a quieter area such as a café, and around five main questions with sub-questions thereafter. Each candidate will be given a participation sheet and consent form to read and sign. Gaining non-bias information from the public will improve my research further and help towards looking at other sources to back-up my findings.
Cozens.P, Neale.R, Whitakers.J (2003) ‘International Journal of Transport Management 1’ Wales: Elsevier LTD
Shelton.B (1999) ‘Learning From the Japanese City: West Meets East in Urban Design.’ London: New York. Taylor and Routledge.