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A streetcar undesired : investigating ergonomics and human factors issues in the driver–cab interface of Australian trams
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Anjum NaweedAnjum Naweed, H Moody
Australia is home to the biggest light rail network and the industry is currently undergoing a renaissance. However, there is little research to indicate the extent to which well-informed human factors and ergonomics practises are being incorporated into tram cab design. A lack of standardised features may create transfer conflicts between cabs, as well as operational issues and concerns for occupational health. The aim of this paper is to improve our understanding of the socio-technical complexity of light rail and to enhance how design standards are informed in this domain. Various human factors methods were used, including observational cab rides, objective force assessments, interviews, and focus groups. Data were collected across two sites and analysed thematically. Analysis of data suggested a substandard level human factors and ergonomics input in the design of the cab and driver interface that violated many key tenets of established design guidelines. These were particularly concerned with the usability of the master controller (i.e. throttle lever) and various issues in the design of the tram driver workspace. Findings also revealed a number of subtle yet significant features associated with delivery of service that created safety-performance conflicts. In conclusion, very little human factors input of tram driving, and the ergonomics considerations of the driver’s workplace in general, appear to be going into the design of tram cabs. This may be related to the practice of using non-specific standards for developing trams and/or poorly integrating human factors and ergonomics into their specification processes. Some considerations for future work are given.