Question for Ride Operators

Monday, March 24, 2003 9:16 AM
I am doing some personal research into roller coaster capacity with regard to change over times (i.e., loading/unloading of guests). I was wondering how many ride operators are needed (minimal/ideal) to operate a coaster running one train versus two trains versus three trains. Also, did you receive any training in ways of reducing change over times or did you just learn on the job?

Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated!

- Rob

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Monday, March 24, 2003 9:33 AM
At SFH, we use a skeleton crew (being an operator and an attendant) for all coasters except for Goliath. This ride will have a 2 person crew on slow days (1 train), 3 persons on medium days (1 or 2 trains) and 4 to 6 persons on busy days (2 trains).

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Dutch Coastin' :: European coasters, thrills and theming!

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Monday, March 24, 2003 9:42 AM
The number of trains does not really determine how many crew members you need...Need determines that. A skeleton crew can operate as many trains as can operate on the track. However, the more complicated the loading/unloading procedures (restraints etc.), the more folks you need to keep any additional trains from stacking. Nothing special.
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"Know thyself!"
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Monday, March 24, 2003 10:27 AM
Millennium Force has 3 positions with controls. :) It typicaly has 7 people dealing with the actual ride itself.

The ride determines the capacity, the operators determine the safety when combined with the demands of the rides. A more complex faster pace ride needs more operators for safe operation.

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Monday, March 24, 2003 1:23 PM
At Georgia Cyclone at SFoG they only need 1 operator and one attendant for 2-train operation. But they need a total of 3 employees, the thirdd working the lo-q line.

A-Rod

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Monday, March 24, 2003 1:49 PM
Although I have run two trains with two people, the usual is three persons on the dock in case something happened where both trains stopped out of the station (i.e. one on lift, one in the main brakes) so the operator could send an attendant to talk to both trains about the situation and to tell them to sit tight, while the operator stays at the panel waiting on further instructions by maintenance, supervisors, and to talk to the guests on the dock.

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"Press down, pull up, and enjoy the rest of your day here at Six Flags over Georgia as we celebrate 30 years of operation at the Great American Scream Machine."

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Monday, March 24, 2003 1:50 PM
Number of trains does not really dictate the number of crew members needed. Afterall, with one train, you want to get it out as quickly as possible, so you might even want more people during a one train op.

Magnum will pretty much always run with three trains throughout the day from June through August. Ideal staffing on the ride at once is eight people in the following positions: entrance, turnstyles, load 1 (spiels), load 2, load 3 (co-dispatch), unload 1, unload 2, and controls. During rotation or if running shorthanded, there will only be two people on the load side and load 2 will do the jobs of load 2 and load 3. You'll rarely see less than four people on the train at once Also, during times when the park is very empty, the entrance person can be cut and the turnstyles person moved to the bottom of the steps so they can check heights and stuff before people get to the top of the stairs. We ran the ride with one person on each side and someone on spiels for a few hour here and there and with the right people, it's still possible to hit interval every time - but it definitely is not the ideal thing to be doing.

This year, there might be an extra person to man the Freeway merge point although I'm not sure how they'll work it yet.

It's also worth noting that during the high part of the day, the crew grows to ten or 11 people (sometimes more on Saturday) so that two or three ops can be on break. Someone can be doing a trackwalk or cleaning sometimes as well.

As far as training, capacity is stressed at Cedar Point during Park Operations training. The manual that they give you has various capacity examples and lists things that you can do to improve capacity on coasters and flat rides. For example: "Begin loading new guests as the other ones are exiting. DO NOT wait for the platform to clear - it only wastes time." Inverval is very important on all coasters and depending on how much the crew wants to have high numbers, they'll try to pack every train by filling empty seats with single riders.

-Matt
2001 Magnum Crew
2003 Magnum Crew

*** This post was edited by MDOmnis 3/24/2003 6:56:03 PM ***

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Monday, March 24, 2003 2:14 PM

MDOmnis said:

For example: "Begin loading new guests as the other ones are exiting. DO NOT wait for the platform to clear - it only wastes time."


Why other parks don't figure this out I don't have a clue.

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I don't wanna be your Saddam Hussein baby!

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Monday, March 24, 2003 4:18 PM
Thanks for the information and the correction, everyone!

I really appreciate the detail, Matt. It is no wonder that Cedar Point has such a great reputation for capacity.

A few follow-up questions, if anyone cares to answer...

Do you think the new virtual queueing techniques will make it more difficult to avoid stacking? It sounds like the FreeWay users will merge with the regular queue upstream of the loading step. I imagine that will be easier to manage than if there is a totally separate queue leading to the loading platform. What kind of approach does SFoG use for Lo-Q users?

Is it better or worse to have the loading and unloading steps separated, such as with Millennium Force, to hit intervals (or is it irrelevant?).

And finally one lingo question, just to be sure I understand it correctly. Does the term "hitting the intervals" mean that you are not stacking your trains?

Thanks again for the help and putting up with my version of 20 questions...

- Rob

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Monday, March 24, 2003 4:52 PM
If needed, yes at SFoG, the operators check lap bars...

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"Press down, pull up, and enjoy the rest of your day here at Six Flags over Georgia as we celebrate 30 years of operation at the Great American Scream Machine."

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Monday, March 24, 2003 7:38 PM
Freeway (CP's implementation of a virtual queue) has no bearing on a ride's capacity because the freeway people merge with the regular line just before the station like you said. This is nice because it allows platform operation of the ride to remain identical and also allows people to choose to wait for a specific seat. It does require an extra worker to work the merge point to keep fights from starting! :)

Unload stations don't necessarily help capacity, but in certain cases such as Millennium Force where the timing of the ride is set up so the train is sitting still for long enough to unload, you might as well let people out. MF's issues were discussed recently in this thread.

Hitting interval generally does mean not stacking your trains. Sometimes in a three train operation, a train will stop for a few seconds behind the station as the other one is being dispatched. Stacking really shouldn't occur on most coasters with two trains. Magnum's three train dispatch point is when the previous train reaches the top of the second hill or about 1:15. With two trains, the dispatch point is the point where the previous train straightens out for the bunny hops (Soak City Cirve) or about 1:50. Basically, some parks seem to think that a two train inverval means dispatch one when the previous train returns, but it should really be gone before that.

As for control operators checking lapbars - it never happens on coasters at Cedar Point and honestly I'm surprised its allowed anywhere. I think this is a huge safety issue because anyone could come up the exit, walk into the booth and possibly dispatch the train before it is ready. Also, there might be other trains on the course which might require you to take action in case of an emergency. Say your lift makes an awful sound - you might want to stop the lift. On flat rides where operators check the restraints, they take the key with them when they do so to avoid someone else starting the ride. Are they powering down and taking the key at SFOG on coasters also?

-Matt
2001 Magnum Crew
2003 Magnum Crew

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Monday, March 24, 2003 7:41 PM
I have saw John Jay operate Timbers at MIA along with check restraints quite a few times all while running two trains. Of course the interval on Timbers is huge but still.

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I don't wanna be your Saddam Hussein baby!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2003 8:22 AM
I have been reading the thread on why most parks don't always run all trains, all day. The most logical argument I read was that you needed more staff to run more trains. This thread blows a hole in that theory.

I guess the only explanation is either: maintenance costs or lazy management...

- Rob

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Tuesday, March 25, 2003 8:52 AM
Well, if we at SFH don't run at maximum capacity that's either because the queues aren't long enough, we don't have enough staff to do so, or we don't have enough trains ready for operation. There have numerous defects to coaster trains, not allowing us to operate at maximum (2 train) capacity.

It is normal procedure for an operator to double as an attendant with 1 train operation. With 2 train operation, the attendant simply checks both sides of the train.

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Dutch Coastin' :: European coasters, thrills and theming!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2003 9:45 AM
Well, most of our rides don't have booths for the panels. If its a ride where the panel is away from the ride (booth, Special area) they do not check seats, but if its on the dock, then we do.

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"Press down, pull up, and enjoy the rest of your day here at Six Flags over Georgia as we celebrate 30 years of operation at the Great American Scream Machine."

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Tuesday, March 25, 2003 11:19 AM
A lot of it has to do with bugdet also. A few years ago, we needed a panel operator and 5 attendants to operate Ninja with 3 trains. Now, all we need is 4 and that includes the panel op checking restraints. Unfortunately, it does cause unwanted stacking of the trains.

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St. Louis Blues hockey RULES!!!

Greatest theme park ride: Steam train

May the Tommy G. Robertson live forever.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2003 3:21 PM
If we only have 2 attendants and one operator at Georgia Cyclone, 1 attendant will be at lo-q while the operator and other attendant both check seats. One morning we only had three people so it was me and the ride op checking seats with 2-train operation. We had to move real fast and get people who didn't know how to open the restraints and the ones who got stuck in the restraints. I know at Scorcher you need at least 4 people because the panel operator has to unlock seats for readjustment. But we stay busy at Cyclone though. This one small boy got stuck in the seat and we had to call the mechanic. Oh yeah Lo-q doesn't cause stacking because we just let them in through the entrance platform. So they only have to wait 2 or 3 trains once getting in.

A-Rod

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