Analyzing Escalator Infrastructures: A Pilot Study in Santiago Metro


The Santiago Metro is an underground transportation system that connects 32 boroughs in Santiago, Chile. It has 7 operational lines and 136 stations, with a network spanning approximately 140 km. In 2019, this extensive system transported a maximum of 695 million passengers.

Infrastructures such as escalators are intended to speed up the evacuation process of passengers. However, these infrastructures may lose their efficiency when a high agglomeration of passengers is reached at the base of the escalator.

The behavior of passengers in urban railway stations (i.e., metro stations) is dependent on environmental, cultural, and temporal factors. This affects how escalator infrastructures are used, with some passengers standing on one side of the steps to allow others to walk and, in other cases, others standing or walking on both sides of the steps.

Simulation model

In this research, escalator infrastructures were studied to better understand the relationship between various conditions and passenger behaviors. The method employed video cameras, passenger detection techniques, and a simulation framework.

Based on Universidad de Chile station, a simulation model was developed using AnyLogic Cloud. The goal was to simulate different escalator configuration scenarios to improve the efficiency of usage of the escalator. The simulation scenarios considered the following variables that affect the behavior of passengers:

  • The location of the passengers on the escalator (e.g., right or left of each step).
  • The way passengers reach the escalator (e.g., from the front or from the side).
  • The number of lines of flow of passengers when boarding the escalator.
  • The number of passengers (e.g., density).

In the simulation, three scenarios were tested:

  • Scenario A: Passengers do not walk and they stand on both sides of the steps.
  • Scenario B: Passengers walk from the left side and stand on the right side of the steps.
  • Scenario C: Passengers walk on both sides of the steps.

The model below shows the density of passengers, with the blue representing the lowest density and the red representing the highest density on the escalator.

Density on the escalators using the simulation framework
Density on the escalators using the simulation framework

Travel time using the simulation framework
Travel time using the simulation framework

In addition, the visualization of the model is presented below, where passengers are represented as agents who are walking or standing on the escalator. The left escalator is Scenario A, the escalator in the middle represents Scenario B, and the right escalator is Scenario C.

Visualization of the model in AnyLogic Cloud
Visualization of the model in AnyLogic Cloud


The results indicated that passenger behavior can affect escalator infrastructure as it varies significantly depending on the time of day, type of station, local culture, and other environmental factors.

Therefore, to improve the usage and efficiency of the infrastructure, it was recommended to allow passengers to walk along the escalator and request passengers to stand to the right.

The use of a simulation framework has allowed researchers to understand the relationship between different conditions and the behavior of passengers, considering specific environmental and cultural conditions.

The simulation model is available online so that other researchers, practitioners, and students can use it.