What's the point of single train operation?

Wednesday, October 4, 2006 10:33 PM
One thing that drives me nuts about parks is when they are insistent on running one train unless there are "X" amount of people in line.

For years and years, I've wondered why? What is the purpose of making people wait.

Even Holiday World, one of the most beloved parks by people on this board, is currently running one train on The Voyage, one of, if not the worlds best wooden rollercoaster.

People come to amusement parks to have fun. Waiting in line isn't fun. Why do parks make us wait extra? As far as I'm concerned there should be multiple train operation at ALL times unless there are absolutely no people in the station and trains are being sent out with barely anyone in them or there are maintenance issues.

It seems like it would only benefit the park to have multiple train operation at all times. People in lines does not make money. You want to have people enjoying the rides, but also spending money on the midway. The slightly extra maintenance cost of running all the trains I think will be tiny in comparison to the money people would be spending when they aren't standing in a line.

Some people say "oh it wasn't THAT busy, so one train operation is acceptable" But what's the point, does it really cost parks that much to run multiple trains? One thing I love about Cedar Point is their obsession with capacity, allowing you to get alot of rides in, thus having a better time. Even at Darien Lake, a full station with one train on Superman means at least a 20 minute wait, versus a 10 or less minute wait with 2 trains.

Is what I'm saying completely wrong, or is there something that I'm missing considering parks nationwide have a habit of utilizing their transfer tracks a bit too much? *** Edited 10/5/2006 2:37:17 AM UTC by Ride of Steel***

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Wednesday, October 4, 2006 11:00 PM
Well, yes, lines are bad, and yes, it costs more to operate mulitple trains.

First you need more staff, and traditionally, dry-ride operations are poor at managing their labor budgets, with foreign help being promised a set amount of hours, plus the ability of trying to give a good amount of hours to the total help, and the added duties of ensuring the ride looks great, keeping the q area clean, vehicles waxed, etc.

Only a handful of parks can manage their payroll, such as Cedar Point, Kennywood, Knoebels, etc. Cedar Point hs it down to a science when to add both staff and trains. They never open or close with full capacity, with the exception of MF on a weekend. If you come back in the am, maintenence has pulled and rotated the trains.

Next is your costs to run the rides. One train ops means only one train is hitting the brake runs at a time, less opening and closing of air q gates, etc. As for the train, well, less run time is better for the life of wheels, lap bars, and brake fins. The dollar figurers all add up. A nylon road wheel from an Arrow train can run $300-600, just to be recovered. New wheels will run at least $1000 each. Add them up. Its like a passeneger jet's age being judged on 'airtime' vs age.

The trains on the Gemini are 28 years old, yet they are rotated to a science, so run time may be about 19 years each. Huge difference. Plus, mechanics get to return to a large ride like the Gemini and work on the trains in the transfer tracks after the park has opened and inspections are finished. All labor management.

Can parks do what it takes to run full capacity? Absolutely. Will a seasonal park every run open to close full tilt? Never. There are exceptions, for popular rides like MForce, etc.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2006 11:02 PM
I've often asked myself the same questions while standing in line for certain coasters. Most parks that stick to 1 train operation I would assume do it because of maintenance issues with "wear and tear" on multiple trains instead of just one. It does make perfect business sense to not have guests standing in lines when they could spend their time and money at other attractions by buying more souveniers, on-ride photos, food, etc.

Once again a lesson to be learned from Roller Coaster Tycoon... Angry guest says: "I've been standing in line for Rollercoaster1 for ages."

-twiSter

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Wednesday, October 4, 2006 11:08 PM
$
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Wednesday, October 4, 2006 11:22 PM

Agent Johnson said:
less opening and closing of air q gates
Wrong. The air queue gates open and close depending on how many people enter the ride, and train operation has no effect on the amount of people in line.

But the rest of your points are good.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2006 11:45 PM
For every train that comes through, the air gates must be opened and closed. Put two trains on and you're opening them twice as often.

-Nate

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Thursday, October 5, 2006 12:03 AM
While at Holiday World on Sunday, I did experience the 1-train Voyage wait. Even with one train, the wait was only about 20-30 minutes throughout the day. But honestly, I don't think the general public of an amusement park in the middle of nowhere care if there is one train, two trains, or three trains running. Everyone is there to have a good time, and they probably don't even notice the ride's operations.
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Thursday, October 5, 2006 12:06 AM
I think the GP realizes it often. With Steel Force running 2 trains and the 3rd on the transfer track people point to it and make a comment about the 3rd train. On Laser, which never runs 2 trains, while in line I sometimes hear people questioning why only 1 train is running and they come up with their own conclusions such as thinking it must be broken (I heard that comment last week)

I hate single train operation unless the single train isn't even full every trip or the wait is less than 2 trains.

I see it as the park saying they don't care about the guest and want you to spend a certain amount of time in line and use it as a way to make the lines long on slower days. The exceptions to this are rides that of course cannot run more than 1 train or where the ride is so short or loading takes so long that a 2nd train wouldn't really help the line.

Rolling Thunder at Great Adventure is an example of where I think single train operation is a disgrace. It seems that 1 side of the ride is always closed, which is bad enough but then only 1 train on the one open side means the ride is running at 1/4 of it's capacity and a line that shouldn't be more than 5 or 10 minutes can easily be a half hour or more due to 1 train. *** Edited 10/5/2006 4:12:37 AM UTC by YoshiFan*** *** Edited 10/5/2006 4:13:14 AM UTC by YoshiFan***

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Thursday, October 5, 2006 12:16 AM

I see it as the park saying they don't care about the guest and want you to spend a certain amount of time in line and use it as a way to make the lines long on slower days

Completely untrue. The more time a guest spends in line, the less time he or she is out on the midway spending more money on games, arcades, souvenirs, food, drinks, etc.

The main reason why coasters will operating a single train is due to money, which has been stated over and over in the posts above.

Running multiple trains will require more staff than is needed for one train operation, which the park has to pay on an hourly basis. Running multiple trains means more wear and tear on trains (thus more money spent on replacing VERY EXPENSIVE parts) that otherwise could be put out of service allowing for a "train rotation" schedule.

And on occasion, certain coasters with two trains at most will go down to one trainn operation because one of the trains may have certain mechanical safety issues that need to be addressed, and are pulled off circuit.

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Thursday, October 5, 2006 12:19 AM
I've only seen one train operation on a couple of occasions, but all of them were understandable. Cedar Point is always very good at having all their coasters running all the trains available even on the days the park is completely dead. The only times they don't run all the trains is only for short maintenance checks, or there aren't enough people in line to full the trains.

I've heard very bad things about SFMM over this topic.

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Thursday, October 5, 2006 12:27 AM

coasterdude318 said:
For every train that comes through, the air gates must be opened and closed. Put two trains on and you're opening them twice as often.
Sigh. Again wrong:

If there is a coaster that seats 30 people, and there are 300 people in line, there are going to be 10 train dispatches. That means the air gates must open and close 10 times. If there are two trains running, they must open and close 10 times, and if there is just one train running, they must open and close 10 times.

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Thursday, October 5, 2006 12:36 AM
Except we're talking about days that are dead, and which (I'm assuming) there are empty seats being sent out. In those cases, it is more beneficial for the park to run one train because they're not dispatching trains with empty seats, and thus they're sending out less trains. And thus they're opening the air gates less.

On top of that, say that you're operating the ride efficiently and dispatching with one minute load times on a ride with a two minute cycle. If you're running one train, then you're making 20 dispatches per hour (three minute cycles). If you're running two trains, you're dispatching twice as many trains (40 dispatches per hour). For a park that's open ten hours, that's 200 more dispatches just having that second train! Your argument rests on the assumption that just as many people will ride regardless of how many trains are on the track. That's simply not true in the real world. With one train, there's a finite number of dispatches that can occur, no matter how many people *want* to ride. With two trains, that number doubles. Lines keep replenishing themselves. It's not as simple as "there are 300 people in line, so..."

But thanks for playing!

-Nate
*** Edited 10/5/2006 4:40:55 AM UTC by coasterdude318***

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Thursday, October 5, 2006 12:42 AM
and if the line is short, those 300 people are going to ride at least two times, so now you've doubled the amount of dispatches.
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Thursday, October 5, 2006 1:05 AM
What is all this talk about the operating costs of air gates? Am I missing something? Are they nuclear powered? I really think someone needs to waste their time on figuring the average cost of opening a gate.
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Thursday, October 5, 2006 1:08 AM
on the silver comet there were many times when I was asked to "slow down" on the dispatches, and "take my time" because boss didn't want the ride to run so much -- I was sending out trains "too fast"...

the ride only has 1 train and almost always had at least a fully train load...

... sorry for being efficent!
*** Edited 10/5/2006 5:10:20 AM UTC by SFDL_Dude***

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Thursday, October 5, 2006 2:23 AM

coasterdude318 said:
Your argument rests on the assumption that just as many people will ride regardless of how many trains are on the track.
And your argument rests on the assumption that people will want to ride more times with more trains, which also may not be true.
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Thursday, October 5, 2006 2:47 AM
But it has to be true in this case - that's the point of the discussion. Why do parks choose to kill capacity?

Your argument says that less trains doesn't mean less riders. So you're saying one train operations don't increase wait times.

Granted, that's true on super-dead days when partially empty trains are running, but the original question was more along the lines of why parks run one train and let a line build when they could easily run two and reduce the wait. No one complains about one-train operations when no line exists.

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Thursday, October 5, 2006 3:24 AM

SFoGswim said:
If there is a coaster that seats 30 people, and there are 300 people in line, there are going to be 10 train dispatches. That means the air gates must open and close 10 times. If there are two trains running, they must open and close 10 times, and if there is just one train running, they must open and close 10 times.

Still, the airgates will open twice as many times with 2 trains, in any time peroid, than with 1 train.

Unless no one enters the station after those 300 people.

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Thursday, October 5, 2006 5:55 AM
I think on a boomerang its pretty obvious!! :)
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Thursday, October 5, 2006 7:36 AM
^ Da dum CHA!

I love it when the kiddies fight with someone who runs a park for a living and tells them they're wrong :)

Plus, the lines are part of the "atmosphere" of a park. We all enjoy no lines because we can jump from ride to ride and get in as much as possible. We aren't most folks. Most folks need a break from time to time, plus will get bored with a ride after one or two circuits (for the most part). That wait time in line increases hunger and thirst (on a hot day), it gives people a needed break, if gives people a chance to socialize (because, *gasp*, a difficult concept for some enthusiasts to grasp, most folks are not at the park JUST to ride rides!), and it's just part of the experience.

Geez, did you learn NOTHING from Cartman's amusement park?

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