Guangzhou subway operator tells commuters to stop 'Keep Right' rule on escalators

In China, commuters are typically encouraged to stand on the right side of escalators while leaving the left side clear for others to pass through.
In China, commuters are typically encouraged to stand on the right side of escalators while leaving the left side clear for others to pass through. PHOTO: REUTERS

Commuters in one more Chinese city will no longer be encouraged to stand on the right side of escalators in subway stations.

The subway operator of Guangzhou said this is because maintenance reports have shown that such a practice has led to increased wear and tear on the escalators.

In China, commuters are typically encouraged to stand on the right side of escalators while leaving the left side clear for others to pass through.

However, subway operator Guangzhou Metro said it has found that 95 per cent of escalators were more damaged and worn on the right side than the left.

This resulted in the escalators malfunctioning more often, and ultimately, shortened the lifespan of the escalator, reported The Beijing News on April 25.

The subway operator also added that commuters should avoid walking on the escalator as they could easily trip over.

Instead, it encouraged commuters to simply stand still while on the escalator, and to ensure that only two people are on each step at once.

If commuters are in a rush, the operator suggested that they should take the stairs instead.

Guangzhou Metro is not the first operator to abandon the practice.

In January last year, subway system authorities in Nanjing city, capital of China's eastern Jiangsu province, discouraged commuters from standing on the right of escalators and walking on the left.

Operators in Beijing and Shanghai have also stopped encouraging commuters to stand on one side of the escalator in recent years, according to the South China Morning Post.

In Singapore, train commuters have been encouraged to keep to the left on escalators as early as 2002 by operator SMRT.

In 2016, a letter to The Straits Times Forum said people should not "overburden" escalators by walking on them. The writer also suggested that the keep-left rule in Singapore's MRT network was the reason behind the escalators' frequent breakdowns.

However, engineers interviewed by The Straits Times said that this was unlikely.

Lift and escalator engineer Kok Peng Koon said the main concern with walking on escalators was not damage to the machines, but safety. "For their own safety, people should just stand on the steps and hold on to the handrail."

The Building and Construction Authority told ST that regular maintenance and replacement of parts could help address wear and tear.