Queuing Safely for Elevator Systems Amidst a Pandemic
25 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2020 Last revised: 18 Feb 2021
Date Written: December 21, 2020
The requirement of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges for high-rise buildings, which heavily rely on elevators for vertical transportation. In particular, the need for social distancing has reduced elevator capacity by by at least half and as much as two-thirds the normal amount. This reduction is a serious concern, as reduced elevator capacities cause large queues to build up in lobbies, which makes social distancing a challenge. The objective of this study was to propose simple interventions for safely managing the elevator queues that drastically reduce the waiting time and length of lobby queues. We use mathematical modeling, epidemiological principles, and simulation to design and evaluate our interventions. The key idea is to explicitly or implicitly group passengers that are going to the same floor into the same elevator as much as possible. In the Cohorting intervention, we attempt to find passengers going to the same floor as the first person in the queue. In the Queue Splitting intervention, we create a different queue for different groups of floors. Based on simulation studies, Cohorting and Queue Splitting can significantly reduce queue length and wait time, while also maintaining safety from viral transmission in otherwise crowded elevators, building lobbies, and entrances. The interventions we propose do not require programming the elevators, and rely on using signage and/or a queue manager to guide passengers.
Keywords: elevator systems, COVID-19, queues, vertical transportation, simulation, transportation engineering
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